How to approach a VC on LinkedIn

How to Approach a VC on LinkedIn


by Rafael Aldon and Yasanhalari Kharkongor


Approaching a VC can seem a little daunting at first, so here is our quick primer for entrepreneurs who are setting out to raise funds for a start-up business.

LinkedIn, Yes LinkedIn

Now owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is a treasure-trove for business opportunities and a platform to find investors. It boasts over 467 million members worldwide according to the stats from Statistica. It is the number one preferred channel for business connections. Simply put- it is a reservoir of potential investor contacts.


VCs are typically inundated with daily requests from start-up founders on LinkedIn, so quickly establishing trust and credibility is crucial when approaching them. A good profile goes a long way towards bringing you closer to your goal so make sure you have all the hygiene factors in place. For example, a professional looking headshot as a profile picture rather than your company logo, it sounds obvious but many people fail at this first simple hurdle.

Avoid using boastful statements in your profile that you can’t back up with evidence as this will send alarm bells ringing.  You want to appear confident rather than arrogant. Ask for some feedback on your profile from trusted contacts first before you go crazy with the connect button. It will pay off!

Purpose of pitching

First things first, remember the purpose of pitching your business to a VC is not just to get some M-O-N-E-Y. VC’s are of course looking for great businesses that will deliver exceptional returns but the process isn’t transactional. Professional investors build long-term relationships with Founders so, enter with the mindset of creating a fruitful journey together and a mutually beneficial partnership. Marriage is not something that should be entered into lightly and you will be (effectively) married to your investor, so choose wisely!  



Look for connections

Before you contact any VC, check if you have any second- or third-degree connections who work at VC firms and request them if they can introduce you to the VC you want to approach as this will get you to the next level, a lot quicker. An introduction through a mutual contact can certainly launch you to a preferred position on the email mud pile.

And if you’re not connected at all, don’t fret. You can still initiate a contact.

Have your Investor Facing Deck ready…

Things can sometimes move quickly, so make sure you have the docs ready to go that an investor will expect to see in order to understand your business:


  • One page teaser pdf– a high-level overview of the business outlining market opportunity and how you are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this. Ensure you outline how much you are raising and what you need it for and think about how you can get a VC excited to know more. VC’s are often visual orientated so think about how you can avoid large amounts of text and use charts etc effectively.


  • Investor Slide Deck – Approx 10-20 slides that provide all the details on your team, value proposition, business model, product secret-sauce and projected returns etc. There are some great examples out there so do some research and ensure your deck is polished.


  • Financial Projections – This excel document will be how you arrived at the revenue and profit projections in the Investor Deck and should show past performance by year along with 3-5 years of the forecast. A VC will likely want to dive into these numbers to test your assumptions and in doing so understand how realistic your forecast is.


HOLD YOUR FIRE– Do not bombard a VC with all these docs at once. The focus is on getting face time to build rapport but having these documents ready to go will prevent you having to stall while you rush to make them.

Know Your Target

Study the VC firm you are trying to reach and try to find out who the ‘right’ person you need to be in touch with.

Most VCs are active on LinkedIn, sharing their stories and insights so, take the time to scour their profiles, posts and portfolio companies to understand their investment approach. Since most VCs will outline their areas of investment interest like Fintech, Telecom, Retail, Tech etc, and the stage they invest (Seed, Series A etc) this helps in sifting through the options.

Every VC will have their own approach and investment thesis. Make sure you decide whether your pitch is data driven or concept focused. If it’s a data pitch (which means you have traction, customers, revenue etc) you’ll need to highlight the ‘good data’ and if it’s a concept one, be sure to highlight your ‘vision’ and how you plan to achieve it.

This wealth of information gives you the privileged access to knowledge that will enable you to engage with the right VC. Use this info wisely because we only get one chance to make a first impression.

Don’t be afraid to say HELLO

ALWAYS send a personalised connection request. A VC is likely to reject you if you don’t.  

Put in that extra effort to frame a personalised message, because when someone is swamped with requests every day, it is very easy to bypass messages that aren’t focused.  



Short and sweet

Never think for one second that longer is better. Remember that you’re not going to collect your venture-capital funding from your first message but it may land you a meeting or call. Hence, your first introductory message should be short but compelling enough to make way for the second stage. Once your connection is accepted a quick thank you and a well-worded intro with your one-page teaser doc should be enough.

Don’t be shy to follow-up

If your messages are met with radio silence, be sure that we’ve had our nose to the grindstone.

Follow-up if you haven’t received any response but do not send a follow-up email every day.  According to HubSpot, here are some suggested time frames for follow up emails based on various use cases:

1-2 Weeks

Follow up on a meeting request or after no response regarding a job offer.

Every 3 Months

To catch up with a connection.

Cultivate relationships

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, so are partnerships. Build relationships with VCs even if they didn’t invest. Don’t be disheartened instead, learn from every interaction.

Nurture the relationship and stay on their radar as it can potentially lead to something else like a referral to other potential investors because, remember, VCs have significant networks of influential industry leaders.


We, at VenturesOne, are always keen to hear from you and if there are specific topics you would like us to cover, please feel free to connect with us. If you find this useful, please share!


Three quick tips for entrepreneurs

Three Quick Tips For Entrepreneurs


by Yasanhalari


There’s no better way to learn than from those who’ve trudged up the track to success. So, here are a few tips from the cream of the crop


Oh, what fun advice!


Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group who is also known for his love for adventures and hate for ‘stuffy corporate culture’, said: “Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”


If most successful tycoons have strongly advised that you must have fun while you’re pursuing your vision, then you must take their advice onboard. Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder also supported the concept of fun: “Paul and I, we never thought that we would make much money out of the thing. We just loved writing software.”


Stay hungry stay foolish


Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. strongly believed in “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. Entrepreneurs are ones who make the big JUMP. It is their nature to go beyond when others don’t. Complacency is the biggest enemy of progress which will eventually cause you to FALL behind. Stay hungry is to remain curious to learn more, explore more and accomplish more.

As Leon C. Megginson said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”


Staying foolish is an attitude which is just as important as staying hungry. It is that extra nudge that helps you pursue your wildest aspiration with grit and fervour- even if the world thinks it’s foolish. The very attitude that landed Chesky at number #8 on the list of the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs under 40, according to Forbes. The attitude of pursuing his ambitions even though the world viewed air mattresses on living rooms to be the next hotel room as utterly foolish. This attitude of staying hungry and foolish is what an entrepreneur needs to leave a legacy behind.


Look for the best people


Reid Hoffman, co-founder and former CEO of LinkedIn, said, “The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.” We couldn’t agree with this more.
This is something which is easy to digest but hard to practise because surrounding yourself with a community that supports your vision is just as important as surrounding yourself with achievers. As the proverb goes: “Keep company with the wise and you will become wise.”

The entrepreneur’s voice

The Entrepreneur’s Voice

Chapter 2




Since its inception in 2011, NexAssure has grown from a two-person enterprise to an international one with multiple operations spreading across Europe and Asia. It has emerged to become the leading managing general agency for extended warranty in Asia. 

Being an ardent believer in the cross-pollination of ideas, NexAssure’s greatest strength springs from the combined expertise and knowledge of its diverse team which has evolved into a stronger one.

The group has served the Asia-Pacific market ever since, providing reinsurance capacity, consulting, underwriting, policy and claims administration for niche products across the insurance spectrum.

With Harj and Dermot leading the team from strength to strength, the group has cemented its firm place in the market. And Harj’s here to tell you briefly about his real-life experience and thoughts on some of the important lessons and motivating content on building the business.


What were the main changes or challenges that happened last year that you had to overcome?


We revised our mid-to-long term growth plans upwards seeing gaps emerge in the marketplace. To help us achieve our new aggressive plans, we hired well-experienced team members into our underwriting, actuarial and business development teams. Our main underwriter has over 37 years’ experience writing in excess of 46 countries.

We restructured our entire Group and set up an additional Managing General Agency company in London, to facilitate our growth into the European and Middle Eastern markets. In addition to ramping up our business flow and working across multiple territories, our challenges include getting ready for the potential the impact of Brexit.


‘HITs’ n ‘MISSes’ in your business for 2017

(What business tactics etc worked and what didn’t?)


During 2017, we became laser-focused on closing a few game-changing clients within a few select territories across Asia Pac. We were able to spend more quality time, providing more in-depth solutions for prospective clients to ensure successful execution.

We have been successful with this approach rather than focusing on the entire Asia Pac region with a large number of prospects. With this disciplined approach, our closing ratio dramatically improved.


What technology is changing your business?

(What’s made the biggest impact on your business?)


Our claims web portal, iNex, has allowed us to provide claims handling services from our Kuala Lumpur hub office to countries such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

iNex is designed to be a multilingual claims notification system for our clients whilst providing workflow processes and tools, that allow our claims technicians to process claims on behalf of insurance companies.

iNex together with our experienced multilingual claims team allow us to provide a one-stop solution for customers requiring product design, pricing, reinsurance and claims handling across multiple territories. Our ability to handle claims allows for improved risk pricing. iNex has helped our insurer clients to overcome barriers to entry in new territories, who are not able to offer administration solutions required by their clients.


What new technology would you like to see become mainstream and easily accessible in 2018?

(If not technology, it could be a business innovation etc)


For our vehicle warranty product offering, we would like to see OEM’s allow for warranty companies use data pulled from connected cars using OBD II.

An OBD II (On-Board Diagnostic) is a system that allows external electronics to interface with a car’s computer system.

Cars have become increasingly computerised with some of the major components of the car relying on software to operate. An OBD II dongle plugs directly into the OBD II port and connects wirelessly to a network (connected car).

We would be able to use the data pulled from the car’s OBD II connection to analyse driving habits, identify problem components before major failure, promote safety, deploy more effective fraud management and provide for a more efficient claims process.

Ultimately, we would be able to price the warranty using telematics i.e. based on driving habits, such as speed, how quickly the driver brakes, the number of miles driven, and when/where a person drives.

In addition to upfront pricing, access to the connected vehicle allows us to progress on our machine learning claims processes, where we anticipate in early stages up to 20% of claims could be approved within seconds



by Yasanhalari Kharkongor

Entrepreneurs: learning the elementary art of decision making

Entrepreneurs: Learning the Elementary Art of Decision Making


What can we pick up from the master of deduction himself?

by Yasanhalari 


Most successful entrepreneurs have made radical decisions, from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and to the late Steve Jobs. Those decisions were considered crazy at the time and yet today they seem obvious.

And yes, it can’t get crazier than a car in orbit around Earth. When Elon Musk “doubled down” on Tesla by putting in $35 million in cash, his calculated move paid off because Tesla is now worth $2.5 billion and the company continues to track upwards.

Decision. Yes, it boils down to decisions.


Let’s turn to SCIENCE for a definition.


“Scientific decision making is a systematic approach to collecting facts and applying logical decision-making techniques, instead of generalising from experience, intuition (guessing), or trial and error.”


Starting a business is just the beginning of many decisions. Entrepreneurs must constantly decide, whether big or small. Overwhelmed by the burden of making countless decisions, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of shorter and easier alternative routes. However, this can lead to what is known in psychology as heuristics or mental shortcuts to make decisions. 


For the sake of convenience and speed, we use mental shortcuts in making simple decisions as they do not use as much cognitive resources.

Is there a model for making better decisions?


Well, we can’t escape the best exemplar of rational science as he strings along its logic and method in making ace decisions- none other than Holmes, Sherlock Holmes.

So, what can we possibly draw from a detective? Well, he runs a unique business as a consulting detective, doesn’t he?







One of the Holmesian line’s, “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear”, remains a classic.

This is one of his famous quotes as he makes a supersonic series of brilliant deductions. His tactic is simple – observe, deduce and when the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, even if it seems improbable, must be the truth.


 “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”- Sherlock


This is especially true when dealing with swiftly evolving markets and technologies. The ability to observe rather than just see can help entrepreneurs spot a gap in the market and exploit opportunities offered by technological innovation, where others may be blind to the vision. Entrepreneurs who rely on their abilities to observe, seize, and innovate will stay ahead of the competition.




Illustration: The story of Airbnb. In 2007, when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, both 27, had just moved to San Francisco. They were struggling to pay their rent and were looking for a way to earn extra money. When a design conference came to San Francisco, they noticed that all hotel rooms in the city were booked. They decided to rent out three airbeds on their living-room floor and the promise of a breakfast.

They created which attracted their first guests. ‘As we were waving these people goodbye Joe and I looked at each other and thought, there’s got to be a bigger idea here,’Chesky said.


So, what do we learn here?


It wasn’t their primitive instinct, which is only useful for survival: food, shelter and defence, that propelled them in that direction. It was more. They observed a problem, got creative, followed through despite multiple rejections from VCs who didn’t see air mattresses on living rooms as the next hotel room.

This backs up the definition “pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled”


Photo: Designboom


Broke but not broken, the duo even turned to selling cereal. With their special designed Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains boxes, their bootstrapped marketing idea fetched them $30,000 to support their company.

Their decision was born out of their ability to observe and that allowed them to disrupt the multi-billion-dollar hospitality industry.





What is negative evidence? Oxford Dictionaries defines it as:


        “Evidence for a theory provided by the non-occurrence or absence of something”


What’s distinctive about Holmes is that he never succumbed to the snare of ‘easy facts’.  

His infamous line, “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” taken from The Adventure of Silver Blaze” perfectly sums up negative evidence. Sherlock looked for the most unobvious clue in successfully solving the murder mystery.

Illustration: Think Blockbuster. It was founded in 1985 and was one of the biggest names in the video rental space.

In 2004, Blockbuster employed 84,300 people worldwide and had 9,094 stores. However, come 2010, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy. They failed to embrace the digital model. Although its demise can’t be attributed to digital alone, but yes, it was one of the main reasons. When Netflix made an offer to sell their company to Blockbuster for US$50 million, the Blockbuster showed zilch interest. Fast forward to 2017, Netflix posted $11.7 billion in revenue and the CEO said that company will see $15 billion in revenue in 2018.


So, what do we learn here?


15 years of glory and success prevented them from seeing the need to change something that was working perfectly. The unobvious fact was the unseen change. They failed to anticipate the sea change. Even though they had an opportunity to be part of the wave, they blew it. When they realised that the tide had changed, it was too late- they were already drowning in its current.

To thrive in an ever-changing world, you must keep both eyes and ears open, free yourself from emotions and past successes and observe the world dispassionately and objectively.




 “It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”- Sherlock


One of the biggest pitfalls in human nature is the natural tendency to think we are always right, ignore evidence that contradicts our beliefs and only accept evidence that supports them.


 “If the facts don’t fit the frame, it’s the facts people reject, not the frame.”-  FrameWorks


Peter Wason, an English psychologist, calls it the Confirmation bias. It is one of the deadly sins- a treacherous human inclination to confirm our own pre-existing beliefs and views.

It is not only deceptive but it cripples the critical decision-making process. It overlooks all insights from data but instead focuses only on ones that produce ‘facts’ to suit the prevailing conclusions- a fatal flaw.


Illustration: Kodak is the best example of confirmation bias. They ignored the advent of digital age because if they had made themselves invincible for a hundred years, so they thought why heed the warnings?

Disruption is an opportunity and not a threat. Even if they had seen it as a threat, they would have at least followed the signs and made decisions in a more prescient way.

Simple basic heuristics.


So, what do we learn here?


The digital disruption could have opened new paths for Kodak. In fact, it would’ve been easier for them since they had the finances, resources, competencies and were already ‘in the market’. It was just a matter of renewing their approach to the new market.

To survive you must free yourself from the clutches of confirmation bias that blinds you to the reality of change. First things first, acknowledge that The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change. We cannot see the future with your eyes closed and our ears shut.



Conclude Like Sherlock


These are just a few takeaways from Holmes’ genius methods of arriving at a conclusion.

Sherlock will be as pleased as punch to know that our economy is moving closer and closer toward a complete data-driven decision rather than beliefs. Well, assuming that data is used intelligently for it to be of any use.

We need to replace heuristics with clever data.

Data is power and that power can be used to help make better decisions and distinguish between a working and a non-working plan.

Data is what it is. It provides objective answers that allow us to make informed decisions – we can finally stop guessing.

And because entrepreneurship is like skating on thin ice- every turn, every dime, every resource, every second and every decision matters.




Make better decisions: lessons from a fighter pilot and the honey badger.



Make Better Decisions: Lessons From a Fighter pilot and The Honey Badger.


by Rafael Aldon, Director VenturesOne



Imagine if your business could outmanoeuvre the competition with the same instinctive predatory agility as displayed by Daniel Riccardo in his breath-taking drive to win the Chinese Grand Prix this year. 

If you missed it, then take a quick look at the highlights because it was a masterclass in precision driving by the Australian and probably the most exciting F1 race in recent memory.

The beauty of sport (much like Mr Gump’s proverbial “box-o chocolates”) is that you never know what you are going to get.

As I perched on the plastic seat in stand H at the Shanghai International Circuit last Sunday, my brain was saying “this could be a 56 lap procession”. It was a brilliant sunny day with no chance of rain, which is the usual slippery catalyst for unpredictable races. But what transpired was anything but, and my view over the hairpin of turn 14 turned out to be the perfect location to witness the pivotal moments unfold.  

You may be thinking “What can you learn about decision making from watching a single bend on a race circuit?”. It turns out quite a lot, but first- I promised you a fighter pilot… 


Talk to me, Goose 



John Boyd served as a Colonel in the US Airforce and became a Military Strategist at the Pentagon in the late 20th Century. As a fighter pilot, he was undefeated and earned the nickname “40-Second Boyd” for his ability to win any dogfight in under a minute. Although he never academically published his work, his framework for strategic decision making known as the “OODA Loop” has prevailed in military, sporting and business contexts for years.


How OODA came to be


“It is said that the ideas behind the OODA Loop were set in motion during air-to-air combat exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in 1974 (Lind, 1985). During this time, Boyd was tasked to evaluate why U.S. pilots flying F-86s fared so well in air-to-air combat against enemy MiGs during the Korean War. During his investigation, Boyd discovered that the U.S. planes were actually inferior to the North Korean MiG-15s in almost all measures of performance.

However, two features of the F-86 allowed U.S. pilots to gain an advantage. First, thanks to a bubble-shaped canopy, U.S. pilots had better visibility enabling them to better attune themselves to their air environment. Second, the F-86s had powered hydraulic controls that allowed faster manoeuvre transitions. U.S. pilots used their superior situational awareness and ability to make rapid changes to force enemy MiGs into a series of manoeuvres from which they could not escape. The shock that set in when the enemy realized that they were in trouble only hastened the deadly outcome.  

Boyd recognized that the ability to cycle through observing, orienting, deciding, and acting faster than an opponent led to a considerable competitive advantage” 

(William S. Angerman, Captain, USAF – source)


OODA’ya like my Loop?


In its simplest form, OODA is a cycle of these four activities (Observing, Orientating, Deciding and Acting) that combined provide a model to ensure your strategy is resilient to change.



Figure 1- The OODA Loop (John Boyd)


Observation – the collection of data using the senses (in a business context this could be all sorts of business intelligence to understand your relative position to the competition).


Orientation – the analysis and synthesis of the data combined with previous experience and other factors to create a mental picture of the situational reality.


Decision– the output of the orientation stage is options, so the next step is the determination of a course of action based on current perspective.


Action – The physical execution and testing of the hypothesis made during the decision phase of the loop.


Although depicted as a series of steps this is, in reality, a continuously repeating cycle with steps of one loop feeding into the steps of another simultaneously. If that seems too abstract, then imagine what’s going on inside the heads of the F1 drivers duelling for position on the track.  This cycle would be happening millions of times during the race, as each driver ingests sensory information on their relative speed, track position, available grip etc and then processes it to plan and execute an overtake manoeuvre and respond to changes in their opponent’s reactions in real-time.

There’s been a lot of talk this season about the Mercedes engines having a ‘Party Mode’, but in China, Daniel Riccardo had his OODA Loop knob turned up to 11.  While benefitting from fresh tyres late in the race he was clinical and efficient in passing the competition from 6th on the grid for the win.

But that wasn’t the full story of the Chinese Grand Prix. From my seat, at Turn 14 I witnessed two critical OODA Loop failures that gave Ricciardo the chance of Victory, and one inspired OODA move by his team Red Bull Racing that set him up for the win.

These offer some insights and can be explained by diving a little further into Boyd’s theory.


It Started with a kiss.


(The Torro Rosso’s Collide – source)


“It should have been Sebastian Vettel’s day, but Ferrari were passive on strategy in the first phase of the race and got jumped by Valtteri Bottas. It should have been Bottas’ day after that, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Safety Car came out.” (James Allen, source )

The safety car came out with 21 laps to go, due to an ambitious overtaking move from Pierre Gasly on his team-mate.  In trying to send his car up the inside of his colleague Brendon Hartley’s Torro Rosso, he misjudged and clattered into it sending Hartley spinning and sharp pieces of carbon fibre across the track.

In the post-race interviews a somewhat embarrassed looking Gasly explained:

“The team told me that they were going to switch our positions so I went on the inside of the back straight thinking he would give me space…Unfortunately, I don’t think he saw me and once I was on the inside there was nothing I could do.”


(Figure 2 –Detailed OODA Loop, source)


When we examine Boyd’s detailed OODA model it’s clear “Outside Information” plays an important role in the Observation stage. Gasly’s team radio gave him outside information that he would get to pass his team-mate, but critically it lacked where on the track the swap should take place. When his teammate left some space on the inside of the corner, Gasly went for it because he had misinterpreted this as a signal he might be let through. By the time he realized the move wasn’t on the cards, it was already too late.


Take Away- Outside Information is GOLD


“You gotta challenge all assumptions. If you don’t, what is doctrine on day one becomes dogma forever after.”  John Boyd


We live in a time where the speed of change is accelerating. Data is so abundant that some businesses are already struggling to assimilate internal data, so it’s easy to overlook Outside Information sources as a result.  History has taught us those market-leading companies that fail to see the big picture due to having internal blinkers on are set for a big upset at some point.   Outside Information not only provides vital perspective; it represents a huge opportunity for identifying competitive advantage.

I’ve experienced both sides of this coin. I spent 6 great years working at BlackBerry, who were brilliantly innovative and I’m delighted to see bouncing back after a rough few years. They really paid the price of leadership not paying proper attention to Outside Information. On the flipside, is my current involvement with a big data company that provides actionable intelligence using satellite and drone imagery, called Geospatial Insight. They deliver competitive advantage through Outside Information. Companies can access visual intelligence on their competition and even indicators on how parts of economies are performing. So today, any business leader worth his salts should be asking, What Outside Information are we using?” 


Red Bull’s Bold OODA Move in China.


The debris from the collision of the Torro Rosso’s was enough to trigger the safety car and Red Bull reacted brilliantly to bring both of their cars in for fresher tyres on the same lap. This seems unremarkable, like most strategy calls that pay off, almost obvious in hindsight but this was a high-risk and high-reward strategy with no margin for error.

They had just enough gap between their two drivers cars to not compromise either’s race if they executed the stops perfectly, and they did. Within 10 seconds they had changed all four tyres on both cars and lost minimal time to competitors that were impaired by following the safety car. Their drivers were now on fresh soft tyres that would prove faster than their competitors more worn medium compound tyres. In one flash of an inspired OODA cycle they had created a competitive advantage, game on!



Mad Max’s OODA Hiccups.


Red Bull Racing had given both of their drivers an enviable strategy of fresher and faster tyres, but they were going to have to overtake their competitors on the track. That’s never easy, and just like dogfighting fighter planes, it requires exceptional judgement and perfect execution at high speeds.

Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen is one of the most exciting talents in F1 today and has had some truly exceptional drives since joining the sport, but sadly for him (and Vettel) in China, things did not go to plan…

Although he was ahead of Ricciardo after their pitstops it wasn’t for long. He caught up with Lewis Hamilton in third with 17 laps to go on a fast and twisting section of the track. He immediately tried a “hero of zero”, low percentage chance of success move around the outside of the Mercedes driver and ran wide, allowing his team-mate to pass him while he was off the track.

However, the headline-grabbing OODA fail of the race was to come with 13 laps to go as he caught up with the Championship leading Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel. Verstappen saw Vettel struggling for grip and threw his Red Bull at the inside line. Unable to slow the car down enough, he struck Vettel into a spin and the outcome was a 10-second penalty for his efforts and the finishing result of 5th instead of the podium. 

So why did Ricciardo make winning decisions and Verstappen make losing ones when Verstappen had the advantage on track? Perhaps a glimpse into how we process our decision-making options will shed some light…


Orientation- Where the Magic Happens


“Orientation isn’t just a state you’re in; it’s a process. You’re always orienting.” John Boyd


Boyd’s model shows five factors involved during the Orient phase of OODA that provide a mental model to assign meaning to the Observation data. Boyd considered this phase the most critical part of the Loop as it entails awareness of both your position and that of your opponent.



Even without diving into these interconnected sections we can assert that the difference between the Red Bull drivers on the track in China was likely down to their mental mode during the Orient phase of OODA.

It would be lazy to infer that Verstappen’s relative performance was down to less “Previous Experience” given his age and time in the sport compared to Ricciardo. There have been times that he has outshone his more experienced team-mate so experience is only part of the formula. Perhaps his “Analysis” may have been coloured by the pressure to perform in China after having a relatively poor start to this season. 





At the start, Max’s direct approach paid off as he made up places in the first corners. Part of the entertainment of F1 is that we get some clues into the drivers’ mentality during the race through their team radio transmissions, and as he completed an overtake on Kimi Raikkonen Verstappen said;


“See you f*****g later son”, over the team radio.

Verstappen was clearly pumped-up, but his engineer was quick try to calm him down:

“Alright, don’t get greedy now mate. That’s good, settle down,” was the reply.


In the context of what was to transpire later, it’s a clue that Verstappen’s mental model may not have been optimal for challenges that lay ahead.


In comparison Daniel Ricciardo was relatively quiet over his radio throughout the race even while making numerous overtakes in the late stages, suggesting a more neutral state of focus.  His only outburst was “Get it Girl, Get it!” when he took the lead from Valtteri Bottas and realized the win was in the bag.


Verstappen was reflective after the race acknowledging his mistake, apologising directly to Vettel and his post-race comments were also interesting:

“I don’t think necessarily I need to be less aggressive or anything as it has nothing to do with being overly aggressive, maybe it’s just wanting too much.”


“Maybe I should just, not even calm down, but maybe oversee the situation a bit more. I don’t know why, I think I was quite good at that before but somehow this year, maybe with the previous two races not going your way you want to recover the points and it’s working against you at the moment. Of course, this is definitely not what I want. It’s a life lesson.”


It’s this sometimes painful process of self-analysis that transforms our future Orientation phases and allows us to come back stronger, more experienced and ultimately forges the foundations of future victories.

“Orientation shapes the way we interact with the environment…it shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act. In this sense, orientation shapes the character of present OODA loops, while the present loop shapes the character of future orientation.”

 (Frans Osinga – Science, Strategy and War)


It will be fascinating to see how the young Dutchman performs over the next few races. My bet is that Max will bounce back, even stronger! 


Take Away – ABO = Always Be Orienting


We all need resilience to succeed. In business, the way you build a resilient organisation is similar to the process Verstappen is going through now. You learn from failure. You don’t hide it; you embrace it.

You sit down, debrief, understand what went wrong and what could be better and go about making the changes. This is however only possible if the organisational culture allows for, or better still encourages, feedback loops. 

We can consume case studies on what has and hasn’t worked for other companies. Ideate new models, think through concepts, and test strategies that become ready to deploy when the need arises. Yet somehow, it’s bouncing back from failures that seem to offer the biggest net gains in the long run.

Steve Jobs summed it up well in his Stanford commencement speech. On the bitter experience of being fired from Apple, he said- “It was awful-tasting medicine, but the patient needed it.”


The Last Word from the “Honey Badger”


Just in case you were wondering where the Honey Badger features in all of this- it’s Daniel Ricciardo’s self-penned nickname. As Ricciardo explains it:


“He seems quite cute and cuddly, but he’s supposed to be the most fearless animal in the animal kingdom, and he’ll go after anything.”


If that’s not a brilliant mindset to have when making big decisions, I don’t know what is!

The entrepreneur’s voice

On the importance of learning from each otherWe’re starting a series on entrepreneur’s voice where we’ll get some of the VenturesOne investment team to share some tidbits about their businesses: from last year’s highs and lows to the technologies they are most excited about this 2018.