A year ago, soon after I started thinking about the concept of Upstart, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a genius lawyer named Mitch Zuklie, who coincidentally was just named chairman of Orrick (congrats Mitch!). When I explained to Mitch what I wanted to do with Upstart (which wasn't yet called Upstart), he paced around the room, stared at the ceiling, and thought about it for a minute.
Then he looked at me and said "if you're successful, you're going to have a lot of friends, because you're addressing three of the most fundamental challenges our country faces - student debt, job creation, and mentorship." I've carried that statement with me as a motivator ever since and it came back to me again today.
I'm about to fly home from Washington DC after attending the Reboot America conference. It was inspiring to hear from great leaders from both inside and outside government who want dearly to see entrepreneurship blossom in order to solve some of our country's biggest challenges. Senator Mark Warner from Virginia was incredibly down to earth and pragmatic (and non-partisan!) and AOL founder Steve Case sets the bar for how successful people can give back and make a difference.
I had an opportunity to deliver a keynote about Upstart. I shared our team's ultimate definition of long-term success for our company, which is to help in the creation of a million new businesses in the US over the next decade. It might sound wacky, but that's what we want to do. What struck me today, as I engaged in a lot of discussions about entrepreneurship, access to capital and mentors and other related topics, is what's truly unique about how we're aiming to do this.
In the next 10 years, we want to inject billions (gulp) of dollars of capital into the market in a way that it can have maximum positive impact on our economy. By creating a platform that uses data and analytics to drive hyper-efficient allocation of capital, we can direct those funds to individuals who have the talent, potential, and energy to put them to good use. And we can couple the dollars with the wisdom that comes from backers who have succeeded themselves. Getting this right can unlock the dreams and potential of millions.
Meanwhile, we're in the middle of getting our first couple dozen "upstarts" funded - maybe I'm getting (a little) ahead of myself?