Picus Capital — a partner for the long run

Picus Capital
4 min readMar 14, 2024
Photo by David Utt on Unsplash

Ever since the marathon was introduced during the first ever modern Olympics in 1896, a sub-two-hour run time didn’t only seem improbable, it seemed laughable. The winner that year, Spyridon Louis, barely broke the three-hour mark, and while times improved dramatically in the years that followed, they gradually slowed to 9-second increments. In 2012, Glenn Latimer, a leading authority on marathon running, stated that the record would plateau around the 2:02 mark — Kenyan runner Samuel Wanjiru agreed. In 2017, The Economist reported that the 2-hour barrier wouldn’t be crossed until at least 2036. That was before Nike and INEOS organized a marathon tailor-made to break that milestone.

The old saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. But to run 26.2 miles with a 4:30min/mile pace you need to go fast and far. Breaking that milestone not only required a world-class marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge, at the individual level, but a bespoke support team around him to fine-tune his running at a macro and micro level. The marathon was run at a low altitude to increase oxygen levels, mapped out with limited inclines and consistent protection from any harsh winds. Kipchoge wore custom-designed running shoes, fitted with chunky foam soles to help propel him forward. And during the entire race, he was led by a rotating V-formation of 41 pacemakers to create a constant slipstream effect. In the end, he finished with an official time of 1:59:40.2. Fast and far.

At Picus Capital, we don’t believe a startup should have to choose between rapid acceleration and longevity. Any business founder will likely have been faced with similarly impossible-seeming “either/or” scenarios. Aggressive growth or sustainable profitability. New, disruptive operational standards or tried-and-testing methodology. Sprint or marathon. As with Kipchoge, however, going fast typically correlates with going far — it’s just a matter of finding the right collaborators to achieve both goals simultaneously. Indeed, reconciling such paradoxical choices is an inevitable part of launching any early-stage company. Working with a venture capital firm not only increases speed, but it enhances the long-term chances of success. With a tailor-made support system in place, like the one we provide at Picus, it’s possible to run a marathon at the pace of a sprinter.

Of course, it’s primarily down to the founders to run the race, but investors shouldn’t just stand on the sidelines observing. For the partnership between a VC and founder to be fruitful, it has to extend beyond the exchange of capital — in the same manner, that Nike adjusted the playing field in Kipchoge’s favor, so VC firms should provide their founders with hidden advantages tailored to their competitive needs. The financial aspect will always form the bottom line, but it’s the less tangible value adds that distinguish a good VC from a great VC. That’s why we partner with founders at the earliest possible ideation stage, supporting them at every decisive moment. There is no “too early” for us.

Nike didn’t select Kipchoge at random — they chose him because he was the best in his field, and because he knew what he needed to succeed. Similarly, we love to work with top-tier entrepreneurs and serial founders. From the outset, our founders have access to our shared platform, internal recruiting agency, and a vast network of customers and experts — then, we create an individualized (but collaborative) path towards their success. We see ourselves as entrepreneurial sparring partners, ready to get our hands dirty from day 0, and continue to do so across the whole life cycle, whether it’s exchanging and fine-tuning venture ideas, key hires, or hashing out a road map for scaling their business from 100k to 100m in revenue. Most importantly, our evergreen structure makes it possible to think about investing on a 20Y+ horizon to IPO and beyond — making Picus a partner for the long run.

Taken at face value, the idea of setting up a marathon for one runner, with laser-guided pacemakers and prototype running shoes, is insane. What isn’t insane, however, is the end result. With Picus Capital in your corner, we’ll always be striving to find the unfair advantages, big or small, that can turn something that seems crazy on paper into a tangible success. In the past, we have found and financed the acquisition of a hospital to secure the license a health tech needed to operate; located a grid-scale battery for an energy tech venture that would’ve otherwise taken years to acquire; and even stepped in as an interim COO for several months at an early stage start-up. Whatever it takes for you to break a ceiling no one else has ever touched — those are the lengths we always go to with you.

Authored by Oliver Heinrich and Stephan Füchtenhans



Picus Capital

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