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Have You Met Doug?
Last week our portfolio company Radiant Nuclear announced a big investment from A16Z, Founders Fund and a few other amazing people like Ian Roundtree at Cantos. Radiant raised $40m!
Here is the link: https://a16z.com/2023/04/24/investing-in-radiant/
Sometimes it’s fun to think about how deals come to be.
3 years ago, I was referred a Nuclear deal:
So yes, I was referred a nuclear deal, by a crypto person. I have known Jered Kenna for around 10 years now. He was one of the first people to reach out to me when Boost VC began focusing on Bitcoin. You never know how your network will come back around in venture capital.
Well I accepted the introduction.
This is probably the point at which I should mention that I am not a nuclear scientist. People do seem skeptical sometimes when I invest in startups that are incredibly technical, and they realize that I am not technical. As my grandfather ‘Pops’ says “It’s a people business.” My job is understanding people.
Now, when I’m investing I holistically fall under a very simple decision making matrix:
Can they build what they say they are going to build?
If they build it and it works, does it make a global difference?
Does it fit our business model *valuation?
Do I actually want to do it?
This “Radiant Nuclear” call came at the end of the day, and sometimes at the end of the day, it’s tough to have your energy at a high because you have had 5-20 other investment meetings that day.
That was the first call I had with Doug Bernauer. Doug’s energy was palpable through the phone, and in order to build an energy company, it feels that would be an incredibly important aspect to it. I was captivated from the word ‘hello’.
Doug had worked at SpaceX for 12 years, where he had worked on on the hardest electrical engineering projects. He was confident in his thinking, but patient with the fact that I understood nothing about nuclear energy. We had an amazing conversation.
I asked question after question, and as I recall the conversation went over time.
In this conversation he was able to distill down the difference between fission and fusion, he was able to dissect how the market was developing and why no one else had been able to make headway. He explained why now was most likely the time, and emphasized how important having portable nuclear reactors would be to space travel and the world. Genuinely, when Doug speaks its pretty easy to get obsessed with nuclear, he has confidence but he translates the complicated science down to simple concepts.
Doug made our decision super easy. I don’t want to admit how quickly I said yes out of fear that my Limited Partners would think Boost VC doesn’t do enough diligence :) But when you know, you know. Conviction works in mysterious ways, and with Radiant I said yes after 15 minutes.
As I’ve gotten to know Doug over the last three years. I’ve also gotten to know Bob, his co-founder… and that guy is an effing legend.
Boost VC is fortunate to be a part of the Radiant journey. I would keep an eye on this one if I were you, I think it’s going to change the world.