EP 257 – Phil Morle – A Partner at Main Sequence Ventures – It’s a Game That Never Ends, It’s a Game That No One Wins

by | Feb 8, 2023

Asia Tech Podcast recorded an interesting conversation with Phil Morle, a Partner at Main Sequence Ventures. Main Sequence Ventures is Australia’s deep tech investment fund tackling the world’s biggest challenges by turning today’s scientific discoveries into tomorrow’s industries.

Some of the topics discussed by Phil:

  • Phil’s valuable life process
  • The market making Phil’s excited about after Covid-19 helped accelerate it
  • Creating an entrepreneur programme for people to acquire the necessary skills
  • How one programme part of the University of New South Wales stood out instantly to investors and raised 15 Million dollars before the programme ended
  • Phil’s collaboration plans for 2023

This episode was produced by Stephanie Ng

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

  1. Holding You Accountable
  2. You Are Eating What You Kill
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:03
Hi, this is Michael Waitze and welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. We could not be happier. We promised each other we were joking about this before we’re recording, we’re going to do it more than once a year. So 10 months Bring it on. Phil Morle, a Partner at Main Sequence Ventures. Phil, it’s great to have you here. Is it too late in the year already to say Happy New Year, considering we haven’t spoken yet face to face?

Phil Morle 0:25
No, I think it’s still January. And we haven’t spoken until now. So it’s absolutely permitted,

Michael Waitze 0:31
thankfully, because I wanted to start with something nice. Anyway, happy New Year. Look, happened. I follow what you do. I say this, every time we talk, I follow what you do really closely. And I always learned something. And you know, at the beginning, I think it was at the end of 2022, or at the beginning of 2023, you publish something? What did we learn in 2022? And what are we expecting? Or what does it mean? I liked this, because, like, you’re not making a prediction. Is that fair?

Phil Morle 0:57
Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s hard to do. It’s for me, it’s more taking the time to try and understand myself what just happened? And then answer the so what question about what I should do now this year to actually build upon it? And the people around me?

Michael Waitze 1:15
Yeah, I agree. Look, the one thing I think I’m never going to do, and I watch people do this every year is my top five predictions for 2023. And I just want to write like, nobody knows, like, you just don’t know, you’re just making stuff up, you can say stuff you want to do. Anyway. So no predictions for me, I’m gonna say ever, ever is a long time. But let’s try to keep it to that. The only thing I wanted to say was like, last year, you did this thing that you just wrote and wrote and wrote, and you challenge yourself to do this? Why is this writing so important to you?

Phil Morle 1:44
Well, in my prior life, when I was running pollenizer, I was making lots of companies. This was in the very, very early days of blogging, and, you know, websites like Blogger that you may remember, was big at the time. And I dabbled with blogging back then, and was for those days, a reasonably prolific blogger. And what I realised was, how I was learning a lot of things for the first time, like the work I was having to do in pollenizer, to deliberately make companies rather than seat of your pants kind of feel your way through and do the best possible job was useful information for other people, they can take it or leave it. But it’s kind of helpful as a sort of starting point for a conversation or something to try and maybe not waste months or years trying something different. Then as my career progressed, and certainly as I got into this job, I found myself writing lots of internal documents, so investment memo, and you know, copy for websites, and updating, limited partners and things like that. And it was quite a heavy lift in terms of internal writing. And after a couple of years of that, I started to get withdrawal symptoms, in that I was not flexing my muscles to actually learn about what it is that I’m doing. And this is where I realised that it’s such a valuable process for me, even if no one reads it, to actually had the discipline to extract insight from the work as it happens. And sometimes I don’t really know what the Insight is, until I go through the sort of machinations of writing something down. So the beginning of last year, I there was one of my New Year’s resolutions, I said, right, I’m going to do this. And he did a terrific online course called ship 30. For 30. There are some good insights in the course. But the most valuable part about it is it holds you accountable to ship every day for 30 days, a what they call an atomic post, which is a single idea, just a short, clear, ready for the internet so that someone can quickly extract value from it post. And I did that for 30 days. And first of all that sort of smashed through all my imposter syndrome, which we all have, I think, do you still have an impostor syndrome? Really? Oh, gosh, yes, definitely do. And then, you know, because you think that that’s not how it works at all. But in fact, a couple of good things happened. First of all, I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback, really great online discussions. And then even people that didn’t participate in the discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter and things. What I found is I would meet someone new out in the ecosystem, we’d be having a, you know, we would be at a startup event or something like that. And the person would almost immediately say, Hey, I read that post that you put out on founder mindsets when people are spinning out of universities. And it’s really got me thinking about it. And here’s my questions. for you, right? So we were already in a conversation, we were in the middle of a conversation when we first met each other face to face. And it just felt so terrifically valuable. So I did it for another 100 days, and then for the rest of the day, the whole but I didn’t do it every single day for the year, but I just found it super valuable. And I’m going to do it again.

Michael Waitze 5:19
Were you surprised by the people that came over to you that you didn’t know? Do you know what I mean? People that you hadn’t anticipated? Read it. I get this sometimes as well. And I’m like, really? Like you’re actually listening. Do you know what I mean? Were you surprised by that?

Phil Morle 5:30
Yeah. Because I think it’s really easy to get sucked into what it feels like is happening when you’re when you’re on Twitter and LinkedIn. You it feels like if no one replies to you, or only three people reply to you. Actually, no one’s read it. And this is not the case. I mean, what you realise is that most people are lurkers, and they are, but they are absolutely reading it. And they’re having a little moment, you know, where they’re kind of consuming it and having a think about it. And it may come back in their head sort of later. And I think that that’s, that’s really good to know, just that people are out there, they are getting value from it. You don’t have to have a reply, or you don’t doesn’t have to appear in your Twitter analytics, you to feel like you’re successful. Or just

Michael Waitze 6:20
feel like you’re just having some kind of impact. I mean, to be fair, you don’t really care if your audiences just like 1000 people to you, because those 1000 people are better than having 100,000 People don’t really care about what you’re writing. No. Yeah, you

Phil Morle 6:33
want to have good conversations, or or as you say, just just know that whoever’s reading it, they kind of go Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, that’s me today, or and that’s, that’s the main thing for sure. Well, I’m

Michael Waitze 6:47
telling you that I read everything that you write, and I can’t stop myself from wanting to engage in a conversation with you. I mean, that seriously. And I loved the thing that you put out at the end of the year, we already talked about it. And I want to dig a little bit deeper, if you don’t mind at some of these things as well. What is the infinite game? And I think, I think the most important point for me, sorry, you can go ahead and a second. But I have had such a hard time putting this into words. And I think you did such a great job of this. I like to say like, you have to be in business, any business just to have opportunities come to you. And you’ve actually put this down in words like infinite game? And why is it just important just to be in it,

Phil Morle 7:26
I think this all comes down to what is the ultimate motivator to do something incredibly hard. And ultimately, that’s what we’re all about, we’re in that startup world, there’s not enough money, the task is too fast, we have to convince too many people to do something that no one’s done, or people don’t believe you. You know, this is this is really difficult. And some days you just think, Gosh, how can I do this and you know, even then you get confronted with competition, you know, there’s new companies appear, they’re saying they’re better than us, they got an investment, and I didn’t get investment. And this is no good. And you sort of get into this sort of scarcity mindset, which is all about you winning, other people lose it. In order for you to win, other people have to lose. Other people have to be worse. The reason I got to thinking about the infinite game and I and I got to it through the the incredible Simon Sinek in his in his book is that a lot of my work is building companies who will be the seed of brand new industries of the future. So new biotech driven industries or industries driven by quantum technology and things like that. Now, these are industries that do not exist yet, they’re incredibly nascent, there are hardly any customers, there is no rich market to compete in, we have to make the market before we can get. And so if we’re if we’re kind of working on you know, making food sustainable or decarbonizing the planet or getting humans on Mars, or whatever it is that that we’re trying to do that mission is two things. It’s by definition, not something for us just to do on our own. We can’t do that. But because of that, it’s super motivating. Right? It’s like, I’m gonna just keep reaching for that. And as long as I keep heading towards it, I’m gonna go for it. And so so the infinite game is this. It’s, it’s a game that never ends. And it’s a game that no one wins. And it’s a game that if you see the end coming, you change the rules immediately so that the game will end. And if this this even goes to, you know, competitors and people People that and I literally did that a lot last year when I lent into the infinite get him, which is frightening to do, I would do things like with some of my portfolio companies inviting their competition into conclaves where we’re literally saying, Okay, how are we going to do this? Who’s going to do what what do we need to do to bring this market to life? Acknowledging that actually, we may be giving away trade secrets?

Michael Waitze 10:29
Yeah. What’s the response from the other portfolio? Companies like I get it from your perspective, right? Because in a way, you’re testing and iterating, the way you’re behaving, but convincing some gal who’s building something that she thinks is transformational to work with some guy who she’s afraid may steal her idea, or her IP can get super tricky, right? Because even if you bring them in the same room, they’re like, Do you want some cake? And she’s like, I don’t know. Do you eat cake? You don’t I mean,

Phil Morle 10:56
exactly. I, you know, I think first of all, I think I think you have to frame the event very, very clearly. And this is where the infinite game comes in. And I do find myself I find myself saying, you know, a few things a lot. But one, I do say a lot that, you know, there isn’t mark, again, we have to make the market first, we have to understand what the market is. And the market will emerge better if we’re all saying the same thing around common things, right? Yeah. But what could happen is, I mean, one of the things that happens in quantum computing a lot. Because it’s, it’s, it’s led by incredibly clever scientists, quantum physicists, who have a strong conviction about their pathway to solving quantum computing challenges. And also believe everybody else’s idea is never going to work. Right? So what happens is, they all start saying, Well, you know, people like me go run. So what do you think of that person’s innovation? They’ll say, Well, that’s never going to work. And if you listen to everybody, you feel like no, no, none of its gonna work. Never do it. So it’s hard. What is the what is this story that we all tell together? That actually leads to this thing? Rising in a consistent and higher velocity way? You know, what are the what’s the infrastructure we all need? Like we have, we have some companies who are you know, one of the one of the one of the projects we’ve got right now is we I have a number of companies who build things with biology. And there is no factory in the world that they can build their products unless they go ahead and build their own. Right, but now we’ve all collaborated, that we’re building one that they’re all going to share, which is just fantastic, right? So that that their investment capitals go further, they all went,

Michael Waitze 12:47
can I make a point here, just maybe you can laugh at this along with me, I’m laughing at myself. When I was reading through your article, you said you focus a lot on market making. And now I understand what you mean. But let me just tell you why I didn’t understand it. At first we talking about market making in the financial services industry is taking risk, right? You want to buy or sell a security, I am obligated to make a market we call that market making. And when I read your article, it’s like what is he talking about? Now? I understand if there is no market there, you have to create that markets. Yeah,

Phil Morle 13:16
I mean, where I’m what I’m, that’s interesting. It’s interesting when phrases are used differently, different. That’s why I want to tell you what I’m responding to is I work in the realm of government. Even though I’m in venture capital I’m what I’m doing is sort of tightly synchronised with or at least in harmony with what you know, countries are trying to get done now in terms of building up manufacturing, so and government is punished by people like us a lot. Like how many times have you heard a venture capitalist say government should not pick the winners, government should stay out of markets, they should leave it to the private sector. But governments have got a role to play in laying down an environment where it’s easier for these markets to rise. And that’s what I mean, it’s like, that’s market making. Yeah, we’re doing it together.

Michael Waitze 14:06
Exactly. Exactly. And you brought up something else, which I thought was super cool. I say a lot. No one succeeds alone. If you listen to any of the podcasts that I do, I’m constantly saying this, right? Because there is this sense of like a sole founder having an idea, having an epiphany and then going building something big, which I don’t think happens. But you want to take this even further. I think part of this, getting two competing founders together in the same room or two competing companies, you’d call this radical collaboration. Can you dig a little bit deeper into that? Right? It is, yeah. Is this kind of like the radical openness that we saw in that book principles, right. Anyway, yeah.

Phil Morle 14:42
Well, this comes back to your point about what the heck do you do when you’ve got competing? There’s no room and you know, they’re confronted with this so that that’s the thing radical collaboration is collaboration that actually makes you feel comfortable. It’s so Extreme that your first thought is, wait a minute, I’m not. I’m not, I can’t do that. But you know, that’s gonna give away my crown jewels. And it’s, it’s an example of the framing, right, Michael that I said, it’s like everyone knows. So you’re not tricking anyone into a meeting, this is a coming together where there will be radical collaboration, just come and give it a shot. Let’s see what we can discover together. And you know, that’s led to this, you know, this is my new one this year that put my T shirt that I’ve actually got the T shirts now, I put the design on my plan for the year, these these T shirts a moonshot country. And that’s because through the radical collaboration work of last year, what we realised is this is an incredible opportunity for what we call the regions here in Australia. So not not the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, etc. But the regional towns, Newcastle, Mackay, orange towns were, let’s say, you know, tier two cities where people go for the lifestyle, but probably in their mind, while they’re either going in a regional industry like agriculture, or mining, or they’re making the choice to have a kind of not kind of cutting edge, world class job, but a great lifestyle in this cities. What what we realised in in our radical collaboration work last year is the biotech opportunity, which is a series of industries, which are just about to explode, they will rise in the region, because they need feedstock, you need to grow something that you feed into these bio reactors that then makes all these amazing products in a sustainable way, in the future. And in Australia, you know, we’ve talked about, you know, one of the things we’re making is next generation dairy products, which basically brew it in big tanks instead of growing it in cows. And the size of that industry, for Australia is bigger than coal mining, which today is a very, very big, it’s one of our biggest industries here in Australia, which obviously we’d like to, you know, look at some other ways of making money. And we could do that. And it’ll, it’s all going to happen. Yeah, those moonshots are gonna happen in the country, and hence the t shirt. And that’s the call to arms for the collaboration.

Michael Waitze 17:23
Do you think because I was having this conversation with somebody in India as well, right? India is a much larger country than Australia, but still has some of the same issues when it comes to second tier third tier cities, right? And if we look at the history, and again, I’m not always right, but if we look at the history of the development of first tier cities, in any country, they’re almost always either, you know, boarded by water, on a river, on the other side of a mountain kind of thing. And part of the reason why it’s just for distribution, right? The only way to get stuff from here that we’ve made to their where they want it was to use water and easy ways for transportation in flatland, right? Like you couldn’t put a train over a mountain, right? So the way these things were organised, was done because of geographical boundaries. But now, I feel like it’s tech giving us the ability to say, the smartest person in the world could be in a tiny city somewhere with no access to water, meaning a river or an ocean, but access to tech, and then they can help us solve this problem. Is that what you’re talking about, as well?

Phil Morle 18:24
Well, as well, I think, I mean, that’s absolutely happening. And that’s one of the things that’s a post COVID thing that I’m actually excited about in Australia, certainly people, a lot of people relocated to these regional cities, okay. You could be you know, not even an AI programmer, for example, you might just be someone that’s really good with mid journey and GPT three, and you know, the whole new businesses grow and you do it from your laptop and in Newcastle, but, but also what I’m talking about is I’ll give you a specific example with something that we’re doing there’s a town in the far north of Queensland or MCI, which is quite a small town. Most people that work there today work in either coal mining or sugar producing at it and so if you drive there, basically what you see is you see this classic small Australian town and then you see sugar cane as far as the eye can see because of the sugar cane, which is a commodity product but we make massive amounts Australia is the second biggest agricultural region in the world with massive amounts of sugar but it’s a commodity and but because of that sugar cane, there’s already a port there. There’s already already railways, the there’s already direct access up to Asia, which is actually quite close. It’s quicker to get super close Asia than Australia. And and so these, these new bio products that are fed sugar, the Fed the carbon inside the sugar, so this new this region, which is to De, you know, making sugar for animal feed and beer making and things like that will actually have, we’re actually building this enormous food fab, we call it, which is like, think of it like a semiconductor fab, but it’s making food ingredients. Right on, right in the middle of this region, with ports and rivers and railways and everything already that. I mean, it’s, this is what gets centrally about what we call market making, right? Because you actually just you step up, and I think this is what people who are in the innovation industry more broadly, can do. Because if you if you work in sugar, or agriculture or something, or traditional industry say, that becomes what you can see, like you, you, you can’t see these big changes happening in the world around and actually that you have this incredible advantage to make a multi billion dollar industry. And that’s that’s the market making. I’m excited about.

Michael Waitze 21:03
I love it. Do you feel like a town like MCI if I’ve pronounced it correctly, at some point over the next 2025 years, can just become a much bigger even like mini city or even major city at some?

Phil Morle 21:17
I do. I think it’s it’s, you know, I don’t know how big I don’t know if it becomes San Francisco. But if you think of here’s what I predict will happen. Go ahead, I’m doing a prediction. Here’s what I think is possible, right? That given that there is no way to really produce these products today. And so many things which we commonly eat or make clothes with or whatever today can be made in this this new way. In food alone, I think there’s about 1000 companies that are quite well funded with venture capital that have nowhere to make their products today. So what happens when they know there’s somewhere to make it in Australia? That’s the one that you do. You drag it becomes like a massive gravitational pull, people start coming in because they’re there other things happen. And it’s like I keep, you know, I know the song, the Dire Straits song Telegraph Road. That’s why I imagined the song that says, a long time ago came a man on the track watering, what is it walking 40 miles with the SEC on his back stops that but ends up with this massive city and people commuting home on a cold day from work?

Michael Waitze 22:30
Isn’t this this part of the story of Shenzen as well, when I think about like there was nothing there 40 years ago, and now they’re 12, who knows what the Metropolitan Air could have 40 million people there, then you have the Greater Bay. And this is That’s why I asked the question. It’s like you don’t know what’s going to happen. But as soon as you tell people, everything you need to build this product is insurance. And then everybody goes in and like maybe we should have an office there. Maybe we should build another factory there. Maybe we should do all this stuff there. I feel like that could happen in MCI? No,

Phil Morle 22:57
I love that that’s actually a much better example than the ones that I’ve been giving. Because we’ve all seen those, those pictures of Shinzon. Before that happened with like a village literally was a river. And now it’s this massive city that came from nowhere. And the ambition that comes from that, I think is great. And I think we need to get I think I think certainly in Western countries, we need to get that instinct back. Right, that says, Why don’t we do that? Why don’t we build as Shenzen and MCI? Yeah. You know? And, you know, let’s hope we do get that back.

Michael Waitze 23:33
I mean, to be fair, there’s no reason why gigantic things can’t get built in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, places with wide open, we don’t want to ruin the natural beauty of these places. But still, we know how to build clean tech, we know how to build clean factories, we can build it there and create just an amazing new lifestyle for people there as well. Yeah, that’s right.

Phil Morle 23:53
And that’s I think that’s the point as well that these factories, you know, no one is going to build an industrial anything. Today, no one’s going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on things which emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So actually everything that by definition, these things are going to be sustainable and clean. Yeah, won’t be these big thumping, you know, gas producing things,

Michael Waitze 24:21
just to get back to this article that you wrote. And one of the reasons why I wanted to focus on this was because I don’t think I’ve ever said this to you. But when you came into the auditing capital offices, it must have been at the end of 2011, or beginning of 2012. And you started running this thing about lean startups, like that’s when I learned about it, I didn’t know anything about it. And, you know, talking about accelerator programmes and stuff like that, I had no clue at all. Remember, I come out of a Goldman Sachs or finance background. We don’t talk about that stuff at all zero at least when I was there. But now that accelerators been out there for a while you write about like, how should we reframe this, what is the point of it? And maybe you can talk initially about like, well What it was, and what how you think it should be reframed? If that’s okay.

Phil Morle 25:04
Sure. So I think when when we first met, we were in an era together where startups were really figuring out what to do. And there were, it was pretty much the same time where I can remember saying to go to a university, for example, and say, Who here would like to start a company one day, and hardly anyone would put their hand up. Today, everyone puts their hand up. So it’s very different, much more entrepreneurially sophisticated world today. But back then I wasn’t really knew what to do. And myself and a bunch of other people, we were we weren’t kind of architecting what these programmes needed to do. We were learning a lot from Silicon Valley, but also innovating ourselves to great programmes where people that didn’t know what to do entrepreneurial, can come in and very quickly acquire those skills, flex their muscles, trade on size, and accelerate their way to a point where there’s some sooner point they can write, they can raise some money and get this whole business started. I think if we characterise most of these programmes, back in that era, they were very educational, on one hand, so things like, how do I do Lean Startup? What’s the process? What do I do every day? What are the tools that I use, and then in the kind of worst versions of them, there was a lot of innovation Theatre, where you would kind of be a big company, you bring in some entrepreneurs, they put on a show with your logo behind it, and you’ve done your bid for the Asian, whatever. But what happened after a while, I think there is that people acquired that skill, and they started telling each other had to do the skill. And now I think when you look around the world, certainly when you look at inside companies, and you look inside universities and research organisations, you see enough of that muscle, and enough people, you can say, hey, how do I do that, and people will tell each other and they’ve got their own programmes. And and, you know, and I think we’ve all become a little bit jaded by the sort of demo day at an accelerator programme, where the conceit is that what happens is investors come in, they go, Oh, my God, that company is fantastic. Here’s a check. And in fact, what usually happens is they go, and they say, and I’m now raising capital, that’s what they say in their demo day. And often, those companies that kind of dangling around for ages, you know, just trying to actually get that capital. And so they’re kind of, I feel like, some of there’s a big fan of accelerators in terms of that purpose. They lost their way a little bit for a while, and they started going through the motions, rather than actually helping startups do something which startups have today in need. So that there was that observation. And then that had that happened around the same time that we we in Main Sequence have been investing more and more in companies that we actually found in the first place. So we there is no company, we bring people together around an idea and we we assemble it and push it off. And we can do that, but we’ve been doing it. And we’ll continue to do it very manually, if you like, you know, just fine. Every time you have a spare moment you go out who could be the who could be the CEO of this company, let’s go through our Gmail, go and find these people and look at our databases. And it’s not very efficient, right. And we started to think, well, that’s what accelerators could be incredibly useful for. So throughout the year, as we meet people, for example, in a university, this is this is a situation we find ourselves in all the time, we’ll go to a university, and we’ll meet some scientists who will say, we have this innovation. We think it’s valuable for these reasons, we think that there could be a company around what do you think we would normally go? That’s really interesting, what we would need say these things and you’ve got these things missing in your team, and why don’t you go away and and then they go wrong, you know, all sorts of they get stuck, and it doesn’t doesn’t happen. Now we say sim bio 10x is happening in August for a synthetic biology company, sign up, right, and then go into sim bio 10x. We’ve got there’s another one that we have here in Australia called the on accelerator, which is for all the universities general purpose deep tech accelerator programme. We’ve got a whole bunch of teams going into that. And so here’s what we do differently so that we send the teams that way and other other people go and it’s not just the teams that we put forward, we then put a safe note into those teams at the beginning of the programme, not at the end. And it’s a you know, it’s a decent chunk of money, and $120,000 which means that already the teams have got the resources to do it properly. They’re not going to try Do it in their spare time, if they need to pay someone to work full time on it, they can do that if they need to buy lab space, they can do that. And then there’s another part of it, which is even more interesting. And it’s infinite game again. So you know, which is what happens when you put money down. As an investor, when there’s nothing, right, you have to do something, you have to step into it, to turn it into something more valuable. So as much as we would love to think that we’re all very professional, and we all love mentoring entrepreneurs, and we’ll go to an accelerator, and we’ll help entrepreneurs, I think most of us if we’re honest with people, when we do that, you do kind of drive by mentoring, you kind of show up, and you go, here is my wisdom, another glass of wine, please. And then you off you go leaving, you know, chaos in your wake when you’ve just confused the crap out of somebody. Whereas if you’ve put money in, yeah, you, you’re straight, you’re aligned with the founder to drive up the value of the company for the next round and help them do it. And we did a the experiment we did last year on this in a programme called sim biotechs. This is a programme run by University of New South Wales. And we partnered with them on it and they have a number of other 10x accelerator programmes around other verticals, the difference between the other verticals and the sim biotechs. One was that their sim biotechs, teams raised $15 million dollars before the end of the programme. Whereas, you know, the others generally didn’t raise any didn’t raise any money. And the difference was, it was straightaway aligned with what investors needed or wanted to do. Or we’re all about raising money and driving up the valuation. The way the infinite game continues, is in the on accelerator, we push the envelope further. And we said, what if it’s not only us? And what if we invite our competition in to invest with us at the start talking about radical collaboration, we found ourselves in a room going, I like that company, I want the advantage of putting in $120,000 safe now. And my competitors just about to get it instead of me. Right? And then you go, Oh, hang on a minute, like we can’t invest in everything. We also can’t spend time on every single team. Right? Right. Isn’t it brilliant? If a number of early stage investors are all putting in a spread of the safe note, all helping different companies and, and talking to each other about the syndicate for the seed round. Right. And when the whole thing sort of rises, and it’s really uncomfortable, the beginning, but the outcome is fantastic.

Michael Waitze 32:45
It sounds like a much better model for doing this, right? Getting back to this idea of just looking at my notes, right? No one succeeds alone, you could invest in all these companies by yourselves if you had the resources, but then you wouldn’t be able to do because the drive by mentoring doesn’t work, right? This is what you’re talking about, have another glass of wine, here’s all my knowledge, go for it, I need to go back to the bar and get another glass of wine or whatever you’re doing, right. But in this idea of radical collaboration, if you if you are applying it to the accelerator, as well, what you’re really saying is, you want to invest, I want to invest, let’s invest together, let’s five of us invest together, but you’re probably better suited to help them grow and mentor, I’m uninvolved, I can’t do it, right. But I can do this thing over here. And maybe you invest there. And then overall, the whole thing is better. Yeah.

Phil Morle 33:28
Yeah, that’s right. And, you know, we investors learn how to work together better. Like we’re actually we’re actually in the machine together. It’s not like we’re just sending an email saying, Hey, Michael, you went to investing in this business with me, we’re actually in the room right? Together speaking to the founders collaborating.

Michael Waitze 33:45
Look, I remember. And I used to tell this story a lot more often. But I remember when I was when I first joined Morgan Stanley, right, I was 22 years old. And I was in a group called the fixed income controllers. And our office was separated by a wall with the equity controllers. And I’m telling you those equity guys were idiots. I mean, completed. It’s all the male, female, tall, short, it didn’t matter until you joined equity controllers. And then those guys were brilliant, way more brilliant. I see you figure this out. Like at some point, you’re like, Hmm, maybe I should do a better job of evaluating what my competition actually looks like. Maybe I should join, as opposed to fighting them if that makes sense. And I, I used to call this the other side of the mountain mentality. Like, whatever’s over there is scary and horrible, until I move over there. And then while the rice there is actually pretty tasty kind of thing.

Phil Morle 34:34
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, that that goes back to the sort of working with your competition in the game, because why? Why do you consider them competition? Because they’re doing something that’s good enough to actually threaten you. Interesting, and actually, could I benefit for a bit of that and actually, actually is that is the opportunity much bigger than anything that we can mutually gobble up anyway? So I need to do it together.

Michael Waitze 35:05
I agree. Okay, before I let you go, no predictions, but just from you. What are you expecting? Because that’s how you kind of end this article, right? What are you expecting in 2023? Again, not like this company is going to grow to this size, but just like, what are the things you’re going to focus on? What are you paying attention to,

Phil Morle 35:22
I have a lot of interests in the biotech space, I feel it, yes, new. Today, I’m going to be leaning into that and radically collaborating with the industry. So that that grows, I especially need to do that in the old protein space, which your listeners knew may know, when you had a huge kind of hype cycle. And is now you know, it’s now needing to really come up with the goods for consumers to show that it can truly make something which is equivalent to that that animals make. And so the companies that are having that, that face, it’s really sort of leaning into the window, and actually making sure that they they deliver what they need to deliver. Also, what I look at our portfolio in general, we have an enormous scaling. job to do. So the companies themselves need to scale. So context here, Main Sequences, just about to get into its third fund, just start deploying its third fund. We have 50 companies already of the companies that we began at the beginning of 2017. They’re becoming quite big now with hundreds of employees and sales and a lot at stake. So venture is interesting, because when you start to become it’s very artisanal, right you Yeah, you know, you’re you’re eating what you kill, and you kind of go out there and you’re finding great deals, and you’re working with the founders, and very quickly that becomes impossible to at least go well, right? You just start doing everything a little bit badly. Companies need more things. So my theme for the year for myself is building the machines. It’s kind of the machines of the companies. How do we operationalize the companies so that they become bigger versions of themselves? And then how do I operationalize me and the world around me so that it’s happening without needing me to be sitting in a chair.

Michael Waitze 37:21
That is the perfect way to end. Phil Morle, a Partner at Main Sequence Ventures. Thank you so much again for doing this.

Phil Morle 37:27
Thank you, Michael.

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