Chris Tottman discusses his hopes and fears for the next ten years.
- A new category of venture capital. It’s got to be so much more than just a fund.
- For me, calmness is the key and it’s changing the way I operate.
- Spinning the flywheel of success ever faster.
This is the first in a series of 15 episodes in which we asked Notion team members and our portfolio founders to answer four questions in the context of this new decade.
- What is your ambition for the coming decade?
- What do you consider your biggest challenges?
- What is success?
- What is your greatest wish for the European tech ecosystem?
Who are you?
I’m Chris Tottman, founder of Notion, Father of 4. Partner at Notion. I love biking!
What is your biggest ambition for this coming decade?
For me it’s all about the company we build at Notion: the investments we make; the relationships we build. We are a firm of operators so we think a lot about our category, and we have always believed we need to be about more than money, which is just a commodity after all.
When I consider that ambition a football club comes to mind – FC Barcelona – and one of their values is “we are more than a club.” I think we at Notion need to be more than venture capitalists and more than a fund, so the biggest challenge for me is to build an entirely new category of venture capital firm. Really thinking about the problem we want to solve, how do we define it, and how do we bring people along on our journey.
What is the biggest challenge to achieving that vision?
In the traditional VC model you have to raise a lot of capital under a mandate, you have to build a brand, you have to get out into the market to find amazing founders, back the right ones and help them scale.
You then have to cope with the survival events – of which there are many – so you become an aggregator of those survival events as well as amazing people solving incredible problems.
Then you really have to think about how really help those people scale.
Over the last five years we have built our value-added platform which is unique and has differentiated us in the market.
We have launched a VC academy called Included VC which brings underrepresented groups into the industry, which we are doing with other VC partners.
So for me the biggest challenge is about the long term relationships we build and how we maximise those relationships over the decade. What falls from those relationships are assets that the community can use, or not.
What is your definition of success?
I have unusual goals. I read a lot of Buddhist Therapy and I found out that greed is a disease in Buddhism. I found that very interesting because ambitious people are in the greedy category. So I started to think that if I changed what I was greedy about, perhaps my life would be very different. Greedy people tend to be execution and goal-oriented, so I started wondering “what if my goal was calmness?” For three years now my number one goal has been to be calm. Which means you have to think differently and plan differently. You have to respond differently, the things you read and listen to and how you behave.
So success for me is defined by achieving calmness and it has reinvented the way I operate.
What is your biggest wish for the European tech ecosystem in the next decade?
There are many definitions of a tech ecosystem, but generally it is about a flywheel driven by starting, growing and exiting companies. That’s what builds a great ecosystem. I want to see flywheel spin faster, creating more and more, large, globally distributed business.