Doubling down on Delight: Why I Joined Joyance Partners

This post is by Paolo Pio, our new Managing Director for Joyance Europe.

This post is by Paolo Pio, our new Managing Director for Joyance Europe.

I’m not really a writer, but I feel particularly inspired in this moment of my life. Therefore, I decided to take my chances with the ancient art of literary composition, today called blogging, to share how I came to find my dream job.

I have always been a hard-working person. I would wake up at 5am to study before class in high school; lock myself in the basement for ten days straight before an exam at Uni; labor nights and weekends during my Executive MBA. But I never knew “why.” I have an innate desire to excel, to do well and to smash my targets, but what for? It all starts with why, like Simon Sinek says, and I didn’t have mine. I never had a WHY. Now, after five years, I finally do.   

By 2014, I had achieved financial stability and a good professional status - and suddenly didn't know what to do with myself anymore. I wanted a change, but I don’t know in which direction. What is it that I really want to achieve in life?  I had never stopped to ask myself that question

And so I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I started meditating to understand myself better (Google’s Search Inside Yourself course helped a lot) and started an MBA to see what’s out there.

Five years later, this is what I discovered:

  • I love meditation, nutrition, and exercise: I co-founded Urban Tribe, a fitness bootcamp that offers free trainings on Sundays in Hyde Park (HIIT, running, and yoga). An engineer at heart, I read a lot about these topics to find data and science behind what I do. Fascinating research has shown how certain diets and eating habits can help you combat and prevent specific diseases, how meditation can change your brain’s physical structure and maintain brain volume as we age, and how exercise can help you live longer and boost your mental performance.

  • I love technology and innovation: I'm a little bit of a geek, and an early adopter. I spent six years in the cradle of technological innovation, Silicon Valley, as Software Engineer and then Product Manager. I love beautiful products, I want to try everything, understand how technology can impact our lives and change them for the better.

  • I am a social animal: I love being with people and meeting new faces; one of my strongest character traits is bringing people together. This can be for a fitness bootcamp, for a blockchain conference, or just for fun (they forbade me from posting a link of my last birthday party :). And I worked in Business Development for six years across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, meeting Cisco’s customers and partners in the thousands (literally!).

  • I am fascinated by the art and science of investing: This is true both from an engineering point of view (mechanics of how an investment works and how it delivers returns) and from the results you can achieve by doing that (financial freedom).

And then, in February this year, I met Joyance Partners. It was love at first sight.

  • Joyance is an American VC firm investing in early-stage startups, whose incredible founding team (two veterans of the tech industry who have done everything from setting up test labs, to running 1000-people organisations, to billion-dollar exits) built an even better investment team (18 people, 10 full-time and 8 part-time Venture Partners coming from all industries). Together they have ~ $70M under management and have made 400+ investments in the last seven years from several of their funds (Social Starts, Joyance), a pace of one deal a week. This volume is on par with the likes of Sequoia and Accel, but at a much earlier stage, and of course, smaller checks.

  • Joyance has a specific thesis: it focuses on delightful moments and the emerging deep science of health and happiness. Joyance believes that "a range of new technologies has the potential to deliver these experiences. Science can help individuals be a bit happier, which can lead to greater health. Or a little healthier, which can lead to greater potential for happiness. The new science of health and happiness ranges from transforming the human organism (genetics, neuroscience, bioscience), to creating new forms of human chemistry (personal pharma, the microbiome), to reading, understanding or altering our minds (neuroscience) to expanding changing human experience rather than the body (virtual and augmented reality), and even to altering what we eat and drink (next generation food) and how we interact with one another (emergent community). These new areas of science constitute powerful technological Vectors of Happiness."

  • Joyance was looking to expand in Europe, and was on the hunt for a Managing Director to lead this expansion.

Joyance and I are a match made in heaven for the following reasons:

  • I have managed Europe and dealt with all the largest companies on the continent.

  • I love the investment areas of health and happiness and their mission to improve people’s everyday lives, both on a personal and from a quantitative/scientific level.

  • It’s an American firm where people work hard and want to win, and I can’t wait to start taking meetings on Saturdays and Sundays :)!    

Six weeks after the introduction to Joyance, I came onboard, leaving Cisco on March 31st and starting with Joyance on April 1st, like the good workaholic that I am!

Joining Joyance was a lightning romance, but really it was five years in the making. I can finally clearly see my life’s mission: making the world a happier place. Now I can work against that on a daily basis by:

  • Inspiring others: First I need to lead by example, and become the best version of myself, physically, mentally and spiritually. Work in progress :).

  • Spreading the word of meditation, nutrition, and training: During our first UT fitness retreat we have done tons of physical activity, but also talks on Nutrition, Motivation, and Meditation. It’s a start.

  • Backing startups to do the same: Joyance’s objective in Europe over the next two years is to back 25 startups delivering delightful moments that improve people’s lives. Let’s go!

One of my teachers once told me that there are three stages in life: learning, earning and serving. Joyance gives me the opportunity to do all three at the same time.

I am incredibly excited about starting a new chapter with such a stellar team as Joyance’s. Please join me in this exciting mission to invest in the deep science that will make the world a happier place. If you are in Europe and your startup delivers delightful moments to its users, don’t hesitate to reach out and let’s grab coffee. Even on a Sunday - let’s just pick a café in the park!

By Managing Director Paolo Pio
@Paolo_Pio