How to invest in overlooked ideas with Harlem Capital's John Henry
Feb. 19, 2020, 9:07 a.m.
In this episode they talk about...
How he got into entrepreneurship and how the expectations for today’s entrepreneurs have changed
“I think the world of business and entrepreneurship can seem pretty scary these days. There's so much at stake, you got to get it right, you got to raise money, you got to go public.“
John got his start as an entrepreneur through trying to help out his family when he was young, starting a dry cleaning service in New York. He says that he didn’t have big aspirations at the time and that he didn’t come to entrepreneurship with visions of a glamorous lifestyle in his future.
He says that these days entrepreneurship can seem very daunting and that rather than feeling the weight of the expectations that people have you should instead take the approach of doing something creative and fun and then see if you can sell it to folks.
“I have to be honest, if I were starting now versus a decade ago when I started I might feel like the weight of the the expectation might have crushed the seed of enthusiasm that I had to start.”
Why he says getting a regular job is riskier than starting a company
“There are a lot of macroeconomic changes and not only are older corporations cutting jobs but you also see it in new companies. For me taking a normal job felt riskier because your own income was not in your own hands.”
When John started working he realized that it would be better for him to put his time and effort into building a company instead of putting it into working for someone else at a conventional job. He says that although it can take years to get off the ground, it’s nevertheless better to work at something that you own entirely.
How he discovered financial literacy and how to be a “multi-dimensional earner”
“I’ve discovered this entirely new way of earning that I never would have known about when I was a doorman ten years ago because back then my best understanding of how to earn income was clocking in.”
John says that he is investing in assets rather than experiences these days. He says that through doing so he wants to “build something for your family that can’t be taken away.” He explains how he learned about how to effectively invest his money after coming from a disadvantaged background where he didn’t normally have much exposure to those types of concepts.
He also talks about how to find a good business idea for aspiring entrepreneurs and how he has diversified his income streams so that he’s not reliant on any one of them. He explains that he is making sure to “circulate” the funds that he earns so that he’s always re-investing and putting them to work instead of just stashing them away in a savings account.
“You have to meet the moment. For anyone who is listening who is curious for one reason or another what they can do to earn income, look around at the moment. There are a lot of changes that are specific to right now, to 2020.”
The history of VC and how they’re changing the flow of capital to underrepresented founders at Harlem Capital
John explains some of the ins-and-outs of venture capital and the history of the space including how it came to be that a “handful of zip codes and a handful of schools determine which companies go public.” He explains what kinds of barriers to entry exist for people who find themselves outside of the networks of privileged people with connections to the large institutions that normally contribute to venture capital funds (yes, venture capitalists have to fundraise too!).
He also talks about how he invests in personal development and talks about some of the products he’s loving right now.
Companies and Products Mentioned on This Episode
LED Ring Light — Beautifully lit photos and video calls.
Nespresso — The connected espresso machine.
Sodastream — Carbonated water, at home.