Today I spoke with Charlie Hartwell, the managing partner of the Bridge Builders Collaborative. As a venture capitalist, he has invested in 15 different apps and companies, primarily those in the field of digital therapeutics, mindfulness, and behavioral health. In this episode, we talk about the importance of these practices in one’s life and business, and how Charlie chooses the businesses that he’ll invest in as a venture capitalist.
Let’s dive right in to Charlie’s story and learn more about his business and investing journey and philosophies.
[00:01 – 05:12] Opening Segment
At present, the Bridge Builders Collaborative has nine investment partners. The company started investing in mind training which they further define as digital therapeutics, mindfulness apps, and behavioral health platforms. Eventually, these companies they invested in started scaling—a mission accomplished aw well for the Bridge Builders Collaborative.
The success of their mission means that they got more than a hundred million people meditating on their platforms. Today, Charlie talks about what inspired them to invest in these start-up companies—companies which help people improve their mental wellness and help them go deeper into themselves. He also talks about the struggles he went through along his journey as an entrepreneur and how having his own “awakening” helped him get over these struggles.
[05:13 – 12:52] Investing and promoting spiritual well-being
Charlie and his company is investing in companies that help provide products and services to people to be able to enhance their spiritual well-being. The inspiration came from the original three groups that they invested in. According to Charlie, all three are supporters of the Mind and Life Institute.
Several years ago, mindfulness and meditation practices are considered weird and wacky. But for Charlie, he believes that all these traditions and wisdom teachers just needed to be brought from the east part of the world to the west in a digestible format, so that they will be something that the western audience can relate to. With regards to choosing which companies to promote and invest in, Charlie says his principle has always been to support entrepreneurs that have really good intentions but want to use business to help scale these practices for societal benefit. He also shares with us three of these apps that they invest in: Headspace, Insight Timer, and 10% Happier. The best part? You can get all three for free too! Feel free to check them out and download them!
[12:53 – 22:20] The Journey to live to the best of your purpose
Before finding his niche in the world of mindfulness and meditation, Charlie has first experienced working in 14 different industries! He shares that he’s been involved with all types of corporate gigs, start-ups, for-organizations, non-profit organizations– name it! According to Charlie, the thing that’s common with all that he’s been involved with is that they all have to do with transformation, authentic leadership, growth, and innovation. However, if you’re going to ask about the start of Charlie’s journey in the world of spiritual well-being and mental wellness, Charlie shares that it started with his own awakening moment.
That time, he experienced three forms of death: the death of two of his family members, one of his businesses, and his marriage. These made Charlie realized that he needs help. He then went on a journey to truly understand who he is, to live to the bet of his own purpose, to live more freely and authentically, and not care what other people think. Most importantly, he realized that he needs help from other people. Unlike before when he used to only consult medical doctors, this time, he also consulted therapists and meditation teachers. Doing this helped him be more in touch with his inner self. With this experience, Charlie realized that his personal growth shouldn’t be a solo journey. Therefore, at present, he also strives to help other entrepreneurs who experienced similar professional and personal life struggles like he did.
[22:21 – 30:23] Building and Growing the Bridge Builders Collective
Charlie’s journey as a venture capitalist started when he met three people who were looking for their “collaborative glue.” When they first met, they asked Charlie if there’s anything to invest in in the space of mental wellness. Charlie admits that that time, that space was very little.
Back then, people see mindfulness as wacky and meditation as something anti-religious and scary. However, Charlie and his partners found more and more people who want to support what they believe in. To this day, they have talked to a total of 1,000 companies. They also continue to meet around 5 to 7 new companies each day.
Because of this large number of new companies they meet, Charlie shares with us the things they look at before they choose to invest in a company:
- The Global positive impact we would create
- The skills and personal growth of the Entrepreneur – How deep have they gone on their own personal journey?
- The safeguards and security of the business – What are the protective barriers of this company that will make it hard to compete against?
- The distribution system – Do they have enough expertise in that distribution system and are they smart enough to be able to shift or pivot if there’s a need?
- The potential of a strong return of investment – if there’s a good financial model behind that business.
Lastly, Charlie shares that they would not invest in something where they would make a ton of money but be miserable. For them, half the joy of supporting an entrepreneur is being able to add value. However, the other half is if they’ll have fun supporting and helping him.
[30:24 – 35:35] The FOCUS FIVE Segment
The FOCUS FIVE are five questions I ask every guest on my show. Keep on listening to find out what book Charlie gifts most often; who would he talk to if he can get an hour of any person living or dead, from the past or the present, and why; that one thing he believes but most people will disagree with; his morning routine; and lastly, where are the best places we can connect with him online. (See the links below for Charlie’s social media links!)
“I just began to live more freely and authentically, and not really care about what people thought of the path that I was choosing, which I used to do. Just to live to the best of my own purpose and let things go where they’re meant to go.” – Charlie Hartwell
“I’ve come to understand on a personal growth journey that it’s not a solo exercise. We need to find support from other people, other friends, other professionals where it makes sense to help us along that journey.” – Charlie Hartwell
“For us, half of the joy of doing this work is supporting entrepreneurs, adding a tremendous amount of value. So we look at how we bring our collective wisdom, knowledge, networks to a company to help the entrepreneur be successful.” – Charlie Hartwell
Resources mentioned in the episode:
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