Bonsai Accelerator is pivoting to Knockout Capital so this is a great time for me to speak about pivoting and reasons for doing so. Joining or running an accelerator is very much a startup enterprise in itself. It was miraculous how Bonsai started and retroactively how we grew, from just Kiyoko, to a network of people passionate about venture. All of these ideas compiled lead me to my answer to my Peter Thiel question, the question, ” What is the one thing you are willing to do that is diametrically contrapuntal to the flow?
That is your identity.
The first reason why I decided to pivot was this accelerator being focused on consumer and had no true mission statement. It was simply too broad.
Seeing cool things in consumer is fun, but oft the sheer consumerism itself is a walking jail. Many of us carry around that jail as we walk through life, wanting to buy the next big thing, instead of thinking or doing the next big thing.
Hence our investment thesis is to find the next consumer Robotics and Foodtech startups that fuel the next generation: they might not be human. Our goal is to not only bridge the gaps between technology and humans, but to optimize human life so one can find more meaning in it. It was important not only to narrow our scope for meaning but to be able to truly understand the startups and KPIs within our niche to provide value to entrepreneurs and know where the industry was going.
If you are everything for everyone, you are no one.
The second reason why I decided to rebrand was the culture in partnership and of this firm: it should never ever be one of oppression and fear. This usually stems from one partner feeling more entitled.
If one person is taking half your company to be “the strategy guy,” that’s usually on vacation, who shows up for a meeting with a cup of coffee and spouting off a bunch of ideas, and the other guy is the executor, putting in 15 hour days bringing the thing to life, that’s not really a partnership.
In reality it’s not your degree, or your life experience that makes an entrepreneur: it is your conviction, dedication, hours put in with a vision of blood, sweat and tears, to pull off your passions, to create something out of nothing.
I’m pretty sure Elon, Jobs, and Zuck didn’t have much experience under their belt pulling this off, so you can too. They were in their early twenties.
While some founders do squabble and waste time over equity, there should be fairness in the equity and responsibility split; when founders take equity but have either ulterior motives or cannot feasibly contribute, it becomes an issue.
Furthermore “Bonsai” elucidated how culture of a startup wherein it is a culture of a broader race borders on exoticism: culture of culture in itself is not a brand. Bonsai is rebranded to Knockout Capital as while Japanese culture can give sci-fi and hip vibes to a venture firm, there comes a point where some members start exoticizing it with recommendations and ideas. Some were pronouncing Bonsai as Banzai due to accent and it can be offensive due to WWII Japanese culture. It was an active decision on my part to rebrand. While it still has cool Japanese cultural notes and sci-fi vibes, ahem, because we love anime, and me; yeah it just didn’t make sense in the venture world.
Going off of our sci-fi vibes, Knockout Capital ascertains to join the trend of tech-savvy venture firms to have a fundraising/ crowdfunding add-on for startups. Examples of what I mean are Wefunder or Funders Club which are larger scale. However as an incubator, it is fitting we partnered with Weclikd, as the basic unit cost of venture capital is not a startup, but a fomenting idea, not yet truly tested. Weclikd allows entrepreneurs to create content and test the validity of their ideas.
We actively invest in 3-5 seed-stage startups per year and are ran by scouts. We do this because we genuinely love what we do. However, we are more than happy due to our passion for venture to help any entrepreneurs we work with along their way with newsletters, events and (potential) intros; let’s make them great ones.
After the reflection of aformentioned points and culture, this is my answer to my Peter Thiel Question, and my defiance of the Silicon Valley Playbook: You do not need a (centralized) team.
We are a badass huge family of robots that are too smart for their own good, aliens eating weird things, and humans that embrace the similarities and celebrate the differences of the other. While we might have divergent ideas and backgrounds, we are all on a greater mission: to find the marriage of human relationships and culture in an ever tech-encompassing world.
We ascertain to be the best, largest VC Scout network and incubator in the consumer robotics and foodtech space. While Bonsai no longer exists, we still do. Kanpai.