Michael Gibson is a philosopher who left academia to write about technology and Danielle Strachman is an educator who moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to help young people drop out of college. And now they run a venture capital fund. Makes sense, right?
Michael & Danielle are the co-founders and general partners at 1517 Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund that supports companies started by young founders. Their investments include Fossa.io, Gifs.com, and Forge, among others and they are backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Before launching 1517 Fund, Michael and Danielle worked at the Thiel Foundation, where they were instrumental in the launching of the Thiel Fellowship, a two-year fellowship program which pays young people to pursue significant technological and creative ventures instead of sitting in a college classroom. The Thiel Fellowship has been called by Harvard President Larry Summers, “the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade,” a label Michael and Danielle wear with pride. Their fellows have gone on to found companies with a collective market cap of well over $1B.
In this short episode, we discuss what led Michael and Danielle to launch a venture capital fund (with particularly unorthodox backgrounds for venture capital), what they look for in their investments and advice they have for young people looking to pursue an idea today (whether you live in rural America or Silicon Valley).
Those interested in speaking with them can email firstname.lastname@example.org. They encourage pitches and ideas and would love to hear from you.
Also, 1517 Fund gets its name from the year Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church doors and started the Protestant reformation…and this episode was recorded on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the (traditionally) Catholic season of Lent. I did not realize this until we had finished recording but it is worth noting because I thought it was funny.
All episodes of Doers are produced by Lacey Peace.
Thumbnail image credit: Businessweek.