INSPIRED IMPACT™ features purpose-driven leaders who are making a meaningful impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m Patrick Riley, and I’m the CEO of GAN (Global Accelerator Network) and managing partner of the GAN Ventures Fund. My job is to help the best accelerators in the world empower the next 20,000 startups around the world.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
Before this, I was at Techstars and I was head of their business development. Prior to Techstars, I led sales for a small startup and ended up getting an exit, and before that, I was a chief of staff to the COO at the American Red Cross in Washington, DC.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
If you think about what just happened in the United States, we lost more than 40 million jobs due to COVID and globally, we’ve now lost 305 million jobs because of the coronavirus. When you look at studies about who is actually creating net-new jobs coming out of the last recession and all the recession since 1982, the only organizations that have created jobs are companies five-years-old or less. So as we’re doing this work, we believe the way we’re going to get out of this is if we support companies that are five-years-old or less to operate as the best companies in the world so they’re able to put the almost 40 million in the States and 305 million people around the world back to work.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Our impact is helping startups become the best companies in the world. Startups have always been three things:
- They’ve always been job creators, and that’s what these studies I mentioned have shown.
- They’ve always been value creators. Just think about how much our lives have changed because of new technologies in the last 10 years. I can now do a video conference in my park because of the technologies we have today from a startup that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
- They’ve always been the wealth creators.
This could be a charged thing to say, but communities change when people have freedom with time and money – to spend on education, to spend on time with friends, and to take care of their families. If we believe in the value of the products being created by startups, and the jobs those startups create, that leads very much into startups being the ones that allow us to have stable jobs so we can have a great education, great families, and the free time to build community with other people.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
The Buddhist philosopher Thich Nhat Han is who I’m inspired by right now because his message is that unless I take care of myself there’s no way I can love other people. I think in light of this season, it becomes very easy for us to try to stick to everything else and try to sort of show up well for everybody else and not take care of ourselves.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
GAN is a highly curated community of independent accelerators, partners, and investors that works with 136 startups around the world. As far as the impact we want to have in the next, say, 18 months, we are going to launch 3,000 startups that are going to be the net-new job creators. Typically, startups create five net-new jobs directly and then each of those jobs creates another 2.2 jobs in their communities. So we want to help 3,000 new companies, but ultimately we want to go create 20,000 new jobs for the global economy because of our work.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
My wife used to work for President Bush and he would often say that the hardest part about his job as president was the unlimited amount of information and data that would come his way and he would have to make a decision on what to act on and what to pass on. I think every CEO is struggling with that today. What do I act on and what do I pass on? My biggest struggle is that there is too much information and there are too many decisions to be made so I have to actively think about what I act on it and what I pass on.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
The one thing I would want everyone to know is that only companies five-years-old or less have historically created the net-new jobs coming out of every recession. And because of that, the type of support that startups need is important now more than ever if our kids are going to have jobs when they get older.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
My favorite quote is: “If we don’t know where we’re going, any road will get us there.”
It’s the idea that no matter who you are as a CEO, we have to make sure we have a clear direction otherwise our team is going to be weaving and wobbling and there won’t be any focus. So if we don’t know where we are going, we can take any road to get there.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
I would say love a startup. I know that it seems like startups have all the support they need, but startups have an impossible job. They have to build something out of nothing. They have to build with limited resources and they have to do it all in the quickest way possible because of the limited resources they have. So go find a way to do business with a startup. If you can, find a way to invest in a startup or mentor startup. Because again, if they’re going to create the new jobs we need, we need to help startups in the season.
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