Venture Insider is all about addressing real-life stories from real humans. Founded by Michelangelo and Dorian, it aims at the stories that provoke an inner drive in its readers that ultimately leads to change.
Parhlo recently spoke to the founding members of Venture Insider. To our surprise, they both love Pakistani food!
1. Michelangelo and Dorian, before we talk about ‘Venture Insider,’ tell us something about you? Your story? Who are Michelangelo and Dorian?
What we have in common is that we are dreamers and risk-takers. We don’t take the status quo for granted and we aspire to make a dent in the universe by fostering unconventional thinking. Michelangelo is half Norwegian, half Italian, and has always been passionate about startups. Dorian is from Belgium and grew up loving nature and being an active scout. After high school, we both left our native country to seek discomfort by studying international business in the Netherlands. During our studies, we realized that we wanted to do something more significant than ourselves, which was the first step towards creating Venture Insider. Fun fact: Before they embraced their passion for startups, Michelangelo dreamed about playing professional football, while Dorian wanted to become a trader (who knows, we could have become the next “Ronaldo” and “Michael Burry”, that is the beauty of life).
2. How you two started ‘Venture Insider’ and when?
During our studies, we used to spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas. Yet, we felt that none could have a massive impact. Everything changed after Dorian came back from a study trip to the epicentre of innovation: Silicon Valley. Loaded with motivation, Dorian told Michelangelo about all the entrepreneurs seizing opportunities every day to make the world a better place. We firmly believed that there was also some room for us in the equation. The initial idea behind Venture Insider was to write a book about European entrepreneurs working in Silicon Valley to inspire the younger generation to cross the pond. However, after a conversation with our entrepreneurship professor, we got discouraged by the vast amount of work it requires to write a book (e.g. getting a publisher, hiring ghostwriters, raising funds, and creating a solid marketing campaign). We then decided to put this whole project on hold. Dorian travelled to Singapore for his exchange, and Michelangelo began a venture capital internship.
The real tipping point in the history of Venture Insider began during the first month of the pandemic, where we found ourselves with much spare time and fresh experiences built over the last several months of travelling, networking and working on exciting projects. In April 2020, we decided to launch Venture Insider under a new hat. Our new goal was to interview and share the stories of the most inspiring people we could find. VentureInsider started with a dream of contributing to the world, and for us, it was sharing the stories of visionaries.
When we came up with our book idea during a train trip to Brussels, if only we had known…
3. Now the big one – Why did you start VI? Seems like you both have great jobs…
The vision of Venture Insider is to democratise access to the most inspiring people in the world. We believe everyone should get the chance to listen and understand the stories of these people who had big dreams and dared to take action. Unfortunately, it is hard to get in touch with these visionaries if you don’t have a connection. Even if you do, these people are incredibly busy, since they are on a mission to change the world.
With Venture Insider, we cut through all the fog and deliver what we believe are the most critical aspects of their stories, to inspire others to follow in their footsteps. If we can inspire even one single person to take action and improve his/her life, our journey to create VI will have been worth it.
4. When you started ‘Venture Insider’, how confident you were that this platform will work?
We weren’t confident at all, and we had no experience doing similar things. However, we had the burning desire to create something that would make us proud and eventually change just one person’s life. Our willingness to be in charge of a project was more potent than the fear of failing. We knew it was worth a shot, and if it didn’t work out for some reason, we would always have had the chance to put our energy into other things.
Of course, in the beginning, we sometimes felt like giving up, since many of our stories did not reach the full potential that we had expected. But that is normal in an entrepreneur’s journey, and the most important thing was to keep moving, and not look back. It took us three months before we saw any particular traction, and still to this date we are searching for ways to grow Venture Insider to new heights. It has certainly not been a comfortable ride, but every single second was worth it so far, as the upside of making an impact is massive.
5. ‘Venture Insider’ is addressing real-life stories of real or ordinary humans. What has been the response so far?
The response has been beyond our wildest expectations. We knew we had something special when we received countless messages of people telling us how inspiring our articles are. Additionally, one of our team members cried openly during one of our interviews as the visionaries’ story was relatable to hers, and made all emotion fly. We want to unpack human emotion using the power of language, and we are trying our best to make our visionaries as comfortable as possible. We let them open up about their most significant challenges and vulnerabilities. Talking publicly about such feelings is difficult, it requires self-awareness and confidence.
Undoubtedly, bringing the relatable aspect of inspiring people is needed, and we want to be at the forefront of inspiration. Beautiful things tend to happen at the time someone decides to let their “game-face” go. We want to capture that moment and share it with the world!
6. We have come to know that you consider Elon Musk and Bill Gates to Steve Jobs as aliens! Why is that so?
These are the titans of our generation, and certainly some of the most successful people in many respects. However, we feel that they are simply not relatable to the average person. They are not as huge of a source of inspiration as these ordinary heroes we call visionaries. We name Musk, Gates and Jobs aliens because they are different from any “normal” human, and because of that their stories do not hit as strongly.
7. ‘Venture Insider’ focuses on people who dream big. How do you connect with them to get their stories?
We make sure to establish a strong emotional foundation at the beginning of our conversation. Moreover, we make it very clear before the interview that we are going to ask difficult but necessary questions. We believe most people are willing to talk about their stories both when it went well and in the most difficult moments.
8. What has been the most favorite and aspiring story/stories that you have come across?
The beauty of stories is that they are all unique by nature. That is one of the reasons we started Venture Insider, and we will never get bored of listening to people’s journeys. We want to learn something from everyone, and we feel inspired by every single conversation we have had so far.
9. Now, this world is full of visionaries that are being born every day. How they can reach out to ‘Venture Insider’?
Simply reach over our website or send us a message over LinkedIn!
10. What is that one factor that you have found common in all your visionaries and that, you think, has been key to their success?
This is a hard one (laughing). Honestly, this might surprise you, but persistence has been the common denominator in all the interviews we have had so far. No matter what, inspiring people tend to keep going even in the hard times. Motivated by their passion, they believe that everything is possible, and remain persistent no matter what. Persistence is by far our biggest take-away.
11. What keeps you up at night?
The thought of one day walking in the streets of San Francisco after a long day in the headquarter of Venture Insider. We both dream of being part of the shining startup ecosystem of the Bay Area. We hope that Venture Insider will catapult us over there soon, and make our dream into a reality.
12. Have you ever been to Pakistan? Or anywhere in South Asia?
We have never been to Pakistan, but we have some friends from Pakistan, and we promised them to come visit. Dorian spent six months in Southeast Asia, living in Singapore and hopping on the cheapest flights available. Traveling the world and meeting new people was one of the reasons he started Venture Insider with Mike.
13. Have you ever tried Pakistani Food?
Yes, we are huge foodies, and back when restaurants were still open we often ate Seekh Kebabs, Samosas and Tarka daal. We love it, and can’t wait to have these delicious dishes in Pakistan.
14. Lastly – Any special message for Parhlo’s readers? (We have a couple of millions across South Asia and abroad)
Don’t forget to dream, it’s free.
Get in touch with Michelangelo and Dorian using any of the following links:
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