Meet Tom Kosnik: Professional Educator, Venture Capitalist, and Sidekick to the Stars
WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?
My mission is to promote peace on the Pacific Rim. First, to help those who are rich and famous but poor in spirit see that they have options that will bring them peace and joy. Second, to help the poor, the uneducated, women in a man's world, and strangers in a strange land achieve their dreams by getting the rich and famous to share their wealth and power.
This mission breaks down into four concrete objectives:
- Promote peace through cross-border entrepreneurship on the Pacific Rim
- Help women level the playing field
- Help the next generation change the world
- Save the coral reefs
- R3i Ventures focuses on impact investing that makes a positive impact on the world.
- Leesa Soulodre
- , the founder of our R3i, is an outstanding leader. It is a pleasure to work with her and be part of the team.
- The Singapore Calling Program aims to bring founders from all over the world to Singapore. I work with three amazing young female leaders, who I am really proud of and who inspire me.
- WHAT LED YOU TO DECIDE YOUR CURRENT POSITION AND JOB?
My current position as a Venture Partner with R3i Ventures is the first job that completely aligns with my mission of promoting peace on the Pacific Rim and helping level the playing field for women.
Our General Partner and founder of R3i Ventures, Leesa Soulodre, is an amazing human being, who has a talent for attracting great people, men and more than a fair share of astonishing women. I also get to work with the next generation, rising leaders in their teens, 20s, and 30s. I'm having a blast working with them and learning from them. By doing these things, I'm having a positive impact and I’m surrounded by people who teach me something amazing every day.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR PREVIOUS WORKING EXPERIENCES THAT YOU BRING TO YOUR ROLE AS A VENTURE PARTNER?
The first was getting a PhD at Stanford in the early 1980s during the PC revolution. That showed me the importance of startups to the world.
After Stanford, I taught at the Harvard Business School, which showed me the importance of venture capital and introduced me to the key players on Sand Hill Road.
I later returned to teach entrepreneurship at Stanford School of Engineering, working with lots of startups that were having a positive impact.
I am the American co-founder of the National University of Singapore College in Silicon Valley, where Singapore built a more entrepreneurial society by having students work in Silicon Valley startups. That built some very strong bridges between Silicon Valley and Singapore that remain today.
Finally, in joining our R3i Ventures, I found a group of like-minded colleagues who really want to make an impact on the world and are really fun to work with.
WHAT ARE THE TOP REASONS YOU BELIEVE IN THE HOUSE OF X?
- Leesa, the founder, is an amazing, charismatic person, and a “people magnet” who everyone loves to work with.
- The team spanning three generations brings very different skill sets from all over the world.
- R3i Ventures does impact investing. We're helping new ventures that maximize shareholder value but also create a positive impact on the world.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR SHORT-TERM & LONG-TERM GOALS?
In the short term, I want to work with R3i Ventures, helping startups go global and get from other parts of the world into Asia, as well as teaching entrepreneurship to university students and senior executives of big companies in Silicon Valley, Singapore and China.
In the long term, my dream is to continue to build bridges between Silicon Valley, Singapore, and China, by teaching venture capital. Leveling the playing field for women is a big deal for me, so I'm on the advisory board of over 20 women-led startups, helping them to raise money and go global. I am also doing research projects with rising leaders in high school, helping them create unique learning experiences to help them get into the best universities.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR START-UP’S AND FOUNDERS AS THEY BEGIN THEIR JOURNEY?
- Make sure that you've got both men and women in leadership roles.
- Make sure you have leaders from two or more countries/cultures on your team.
- As you think about going global, look towards China, Singapore, and ASEAN region, because that's where some of the most entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world are emerging, where we can have the most positive impact on our world for the future.
WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE PHILOSOPHER?
My favorite philosopher is Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore in 1965. He realized that there was a big gap between the rich and the poor, so he tried to close that gap by providing government subsidies for housing, and made it really hard to own a car to reduce traffic, crime, and pollution. He provided ways for people to learn skills to get a good job, through craft skills that enabled people to work in manufacturing and infrastructure, which attracted global multinational companies to set up shop in Singapore.
He also provided government scholarships for children of poor and middle class families so they could attend the best universities in the world, and after graduation they would work in government agencies and companies like Singapore Airlines and SingTel.
Consequently, Singapore has created the smartest, cleanest, and most motivated government in the world, with leaders who people trust and respect. A big part of Singapore's success as a country traces back to the vision of Lee Kuan Yew. He transformed his philosophyーthat anyone can own a home, and that anyone who works hard can get into a great university can potentially get a good jobーinto reality.