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Building Sustainable Businesses with David Mount

Episode 188
Ian is joined by venture capitalist David Mount. They discuss how to build more sustainable businesses and why “dark nights of the soul” are important.

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Why is sustainability critical for every company?

In part two of this two-part interview, Ian (@ianfaison) is joined by venture capitalist David Mount (@dbmount). They discuss how to build more sustainable businesses and why “dark nights of the soul” are important for personal and business development.

(And for you basketball fans out there, be sure to listen to the end to hear some insider stories about Joe Lacob and the Warriors.)

Did you miss part 1 of this interview? Listen to it here.

Why Sustainability is Critical For Every Company – 1:00

  • “Disruption happens when you have a solution that is exceptionally better than nothing.” -Ian Faison paraphrasing Clayton Christensen.
  • “Sustainability means good business.” -David Mount
    • Businesses that focus on sustainability can build better products that are cheaper.
  • Mentioned by David: Kespry Drone Company
  • “You can build a cheaper product that can do better work and that is sustainable.” -David Mount
  • “These technologies may change the way people work but it’s not a replacement of the way that people work.” -David Mount
  • Mentioned by Ian: Deano Roberts from Slack interview on Future of Cities.
  • Sustainability is about eliminating waste, and so is business.
  • VMWare is a great example of a sustainable company. It made it possible to run several applications on a single server and increased energy efficiency.
  • “That’s how we try to think about sustainability, in terms of doing more with less, being more resource efficient, using technology to help drive that efficiency quickly in these industries that haven’t been thinking that way necessarily.” -David Mount

Dark Nights of the Soul (And Why They’re Important) – 9:10

  • Despite his success, we’ve still seen many times in Elon Musk’s career where he experiences ‘dark nights of the soul’ – times when people keep counting him out. This isn’t just an Elon thing, this a founder thing.
  • Examples David has seen in his career where people face dark nights of the soul and make it to the other side.
  • “Those dark nights of the soul, those struggle moments happen for everyone.” -David Mount
  • “Those moments happen, but you keep fighting. There is another side of the chasm. The dark night of the soul has a dawn.” -David Mount

How David Finds Great Startups and Founders – 12:53

  • Traditionally, it used to be inbound. You’d establish a presence at universities or companies and they would give you referrals. But that has changed dramatically. The venture industry is much more competitive. There’s been a dramatic shift to an outbound approach. David spends most of our time working on and investing in companies they’ve reached out to first.
  • “As series B and later investors, we are looking through the portfolios of other venture investors that are a little bit earlier stage, of some angel networks, of some influencers, and of seed investors that are making bets in companies that are in our target industries. We track those pretty methodically… if it’s a fit, we reach out.” -David Mount
  • David and his team also do searches at trade magazines and trade conferences because that is where potential costumers are. This gives them an idea of what kind of startups established companies are willing to work with.
  • “If a startup founder is feeling like they need to justify the existence of their business every time they meet with their investor, something’s really wrong. When a startup and a venture investor are totally aligned with the mission, then it’s about, ‘Okay, how do we help?’” -David Mount

Basketball Talk – 17:40

Final Thoughts 25:16

  • “There last few years, we’ve come back to a moment where there are some awesome companies getting built that are mission-driven, that are thinking about sustainability, that have carried that torch… and we are really excited to work with those companies… and to build an investment fund and a firm that committed to sustainability.” -David Mount
  • Check out G2VP (website | Twitter | LinkedIn). Head to Venture Loop for job postings.


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