Ashton Kutcher built a fanbase as a goofball character in sitcoms and movies, but he’s been seriously focused on his investments over the past several years.
It’s why his friend, “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban, invited him to try out for a guest investor role in the current seventh season of the show. After getting accustomed to the format, Kutcher dove right in, making a deal, offering entrepreneurs valuable insight, and even sparring with the brashest Shark, Kevin O’Leary.
Rather than begin investing on a whim, Kutcher reached out to prominent Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway, who became his mentor in the late aughts.
Since 2010, Kutcher has been an investor through his venture capital firm A-Grade Investments, which he founded with the entrepreneurs and investors Guy Oseary and Ronald Burke. He was an angel investor before that. He also connected with Marc Andreessen, one of the Valley’s premier investors, and Andreessen wisely persuaded him to invest in Skype in 2009.
He’s invested in seed and Series-A rounds for companies like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, and Casper.
In an interview for his website A-Plus, Kutcher said he has three rules of investing, which are focused on what he sees in an entrepreneur:
1. They must intimately understand both their product and industry.
Great ideas on their own are not sufficient.
2. They must have a personality that will allow them to withstand failure and setbacks.
“You can have the best idea in the world and absolute domain expertise and know how to do everything right, but if you want to do something great in the world, there are going to be obstacles; and you have to be a person who has ingenuity and sheer willpower to get through those times,” he said.
3. They must get along well with him.
He’s not willing to make a commitment of millions of dollars and years of being an adviser to someone he doesn’t want to hang out with.
Kutcher told the Telegraph in 2013 that he’s drawn to consumer technologies.
“The companies that will ultimately do well are the companies that chase happiness,” he said. “If you find a way to help people find love, or health, or friendship, the dollar will chase that.”
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