- Sovereigns Capital | Growth Stage Funding
- Twitter – @henrykaestner | 1700 followers
- FaithDrivenInvestor.org | God Owns it All
- FaithDrivenEntrepreneur.org | Community for Entrepreneurs
- Believes he is very much is a work-in-progress… what will come next?
I’ve met many people in the venture capital world. Men and women with deep convictions. Deep held beliefs and principles that inform and affect the way they engage with the world. Henry Kaestner is one of those men.
Henry Kaestner is a man seeking God in all that he does. His faith is paramount to everything and it’s clear that he speaks and acts through the filter and lens of his faith. From being the Chairman of Bandwidth.com where he was able to test his rubric for a faith-focused culture, to where he’s currently spending most of his time, Sovereign’s Capital, faith is at the center of it all, and it certainly comes first!
Faith, family, work, fitness – This is the process of things under Henry’s leadership. It also seems to be working as we discuss in our show!
“We want to bring God glory through what we do as we compete and innovate and serve customers.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
After 20 years of working out his faith with fear and trembling at Bandwidth, Henry came to a conclusion:
“Faith-driven businesses can compete and win by having the faith of the founders at the core of why they do what they do. Of course this can translate to business success.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
This led to the emergence of Sovereign’s Capital where Henry and his team can impact the world for good.
Having my own faith (don’t we all), I have often questioned (probably too much so) the tangible output of one’s faith in one’s work. Sometimes it’s just so hard to see faith-in-works. I wanted to dig a bit deeper into this idea with Henry and he came back with a solid answer:
“I think it’s great to have grit, have perseverance, to work hard, I think all of these are very much Biblical values, and you can’t just sit back and say ‘God will provide’ and expect success will just rain down on me. A good sign, I think, is how we think about Sabbath… God commands me to be still, and rely on Him (on the Sabbath). I’m so grateful for that lesson, as part of our success was we needed to rely on the Lord on this day of rest.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
Henry has always been into sales and entrepreneurship. Since his days back in Delaware, he discovered his first love, the fact that he could make a t-shirt for $5 and sell it for $10:
“I came alive when I came to this realization that I could go ahead and put up some capital risk, go out there and work hard and go door-to-door and sell t-shirts.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
Henry considered how easy it was back then compared to now. Certainly selling t-shirts is very transactional. You either get a customer or not. The feedback loops are so quick and simple! Life is a bit more complex now for Henry and I appreciated his conceit about managing people:
“I can never tell you that I knew exactly what I was doing when it came to managing people. I’ve never had the confidence that I knew exactly what I was doing. When I sold t-shirts. I knew exactly what I was doing.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
This led me to ask Henry about his leadership style and how he would characterize how he leads his companies. He wants to lead his company by example, showing his leadership team and employees that he seeks out joy in life. Doing great work is part of that:
“I want to be a leader with aspects of service… I want to have joy, purpose, and mission in my life, and I find, that when I try to know God and enjoy Him forever, that I do have great purpose and meaning in my life.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
Digging in a bit more around Henry’s personal and professional success I had to ask the questions around how the formation of his company, the rubric for his culture, has equated to success. Henry had a great response here:
“First, our success comes from divine providence. Secondly it’s important to be able to articulate why we do what we do. What do we want to do? Love God and enjoy Him forever. I think that resonates with our employees, regardless of whatever faith foundation they come from… People want to know why the leader does what they do. They want to see the sincerity and integrity of the mission.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
It was refreshing to have Henry on the show as it allowed me to ask questions that I’ve never been able to ask before, like: “Does your faith become a constraint to success?” – It’s these types of stories that aren’t heard often. It’s these types of questions that the mainstream might find too offensive or divisive. It’s a great thing that this is my show. 😉
Henry shared an example of a tough ethical decision around what types of organizations they support and do not support as a faith-led company. It was really astounding to hear that as they chose NOT to partner with that client and service them… and even pay their sales person the commission on finding the deal and closing the deal… this decision was a powerful moment for Henry and his leadership team to stick to their values and principles as a company. It was a test of sorts, maybe by God to see whether they would compromise their values. It would seem, as history reveals, that the company was the real winner at the end of the day.
“No. I don’t believe my faith has been a constraint. I look at it that we are faithful to our values and integrity and God blesses that.”Henry Kaestner – VC Hunting S1E11
I think every single founder who leads a company will be tested in exactly this way. I believe that it is actually integral to the formation and long-term success of the company. Values and principles must be questioned, must be brought to the testing-table. It is when we choose to act with integrity that the universe (God) responds. I believe that the greatest companies are ones who draw a line in the sand, and stay true to who they are.
To round-out our time I brought up a couple of tweets from way back:
It was great to hear that men and women of faith have been finding more and more opportunities to live out their faith by supporting economic activity in other countries. Things have changed, thanks to the proliferation of information, access, and opportunity.
Finally it was great to hear what Henry is rejoicing about today. There is lots to be thankful for, and I appreciated merely the opportunity to hear all of the good things that are happening within Henry’s sphere of influence.
Enjoy my retrospective! I wish all the best for the world-changing work that Henry and Sovereign’s Capital are doing.
HENRY KAESTNER SOCIAL MEDIA!
May your aim be true.