4 Key Things Every Startup Should Focus On

Written by Tom Fairey

9 March, 2022

Consilience Ventures CEO Kevin Monserrat’s Advice On Building A Solid Foundation For Your Startup

Kevin Monserrat is a venture capitalist who got his start in life as a French firefighter.

No, there’s not a linear progression that takes one from being a firefighter to being the head of a VC, but there are a surprising number of parallels between the two professions. After all, when you are a firefighter you:

  • Are genuinely trying to help people
  • Are working around the clock
  • Have to constantly learn
  • Have to be brave
  • Have to BE a firefighter — you can’t fake it.

Montserrat, who recently talked to me for an episode of my podcast, Back Yourself, translated his experience as a firefighter into a highly diverse career, which (so far) has included jobs as a purchaser, sales assistance, junior salesman for an American real estate company, online marketing consultant, and more. His career really took off in 2014, when he landed a role as head of business development and partnership at Ztudium and then became a VC relations and deal-flow manager for Microsoft.

Like So Many Before Him, Montserrat Found The Best Way To Learn About VC Was To Be In VC

The role at Microsoft was key, as it thrust Monserrat into the competitive world of VC. There, Montserrat built an ecosystem to accelerate startups and corporate innovation, working with more than 200 VCs globally. Along the way, he learned highly detailed intelligence about the workings of startups, what makes them succeed, and why they might fail.

In 2018, Montserrat left Microsoft to launch his own startup, PK2M, a U.K. FCA authorised fintech which is building a unique venture capital marketplace. That led, just a few months later, to the founding of another company, Consilience Ventures, which is a global data-driven VC economy using its own digital currency to invest in carefully selected B2B start-ups from pre-seed to Series A.

Why Would Anyone Leave The Security Of A Microsoft For The Insecurity Of A Startup?

When he went to Microsoft, he was not looking to pad his CV with flashy corporate logos. From his early days, when he went to the U.S. to learn English and wound up working for a real estate company, Montserrat has sought unique and oftentimes uncomforting experiences, which has set the stage for him to excel in the uncertain world of startups.

“I have been this way for a very long time,” he said. “I was not looking to work for a large company. I was not really looking for that level of certainty. I am much more excited by the journey rather than the actual object.”

With two startups under his belt, and more likely on the horizon, Montserrat is in a good position to offer advice about running a startup.

4 Key Details Every Startup Should Focus On

  1. Surround yourself with people who can support you. As Monserrat notes, much of the success of a startup is due to the startup owner’s support structure, which for him is his wife and a few close friends in London.
  2. Ask yourself how hard what you are going to do is. If it is not hard, it is probably not worth the effort. Easy is boring, and easy almost never works for startups. 
  3. Measure what kind of risk you are ready to take and be prepared for the worst.
  4. Make sure you enjoy your job and the people you are working with, because the startup journey will take you through difficult storms. If you are not surrounded by people you would like to go through a storm with, then there is no point in creating that company. If you are not enjoying every single second, then it is not worth it.

Don’t Be Fooled By Access To Capital

Monserrat has a warning for startups seeking capital: Getting capital does not validate your business idea, your model, or anything else that is really important. 

“Don’t be fooled by access to capital,” he said. “Raising money is never business model validation. It just means that people have some faith in you and what you are building. The only thing that validates a business model is the ability to get profit.”

The Takeaway

Kevin Monserrat marshaled a wildly diverse background into a career focused on VC and startups. Along the way, he learned the value of supportive partners, the false promise of access to capital, and details that every startup should focus on.

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