What I Learned In 2015: Hamet Watt, Upfront Ventures

Over the last week or so, we've featured the reflections of our readers on 2015 and what it has meant for Southern California's technology industry. Our last contribution comes from Hamet Watt, a venture capitalist at Upfront Ventures (

What was the biggest news for you or your firm this year?

Hamet Watt: Upfront Ventures raised a brand-new $300 million fund, Upfront V.

What was the biggest lesson you learned over the last year?

Hamet Watt: "Keep your elbow in" focus on good form and discipline without being distracted or obsessing about the outcome. I ran an experiment (while playing basketball) i recorded myself shooting baskets and I learned 2 things (one admittedly more metaphoric than the next)

1) I have a hitch (in my jump shot). This means that don't release the ball fast enough on my jump shot. I wait a split second too long to let the ball out of my hands at the apex of my jump. The results in a lower made shot percentage. This is a very fixable problem that probably stems from my old days of trying to look cool (as if I'm floating) with my jump shot.

2) When I recorded myself (alone w/out the basket in the picture) I made more baskets than when I filmed both myself and the basket). Hmmm. So when making the shot wasn't my primary focus I made more? As in more than 20% more. How was that possible. I did it a few times and tried a number of visualization techniques including imagining myself being filmed, imaging just the basket being filmed. Same effective result. When I focused looking good on camera (which is really more about being very mindful about my form and rhythm (removing my hitch), I consistently over performed when I was putting more energy into the outcome.

This notion of being detached from the outcome in order to optimize performance is not a new concept to me but this experiment served as an amazing and very tangible reminder. As an entrepreneur and a new investor, this couldn't be more relevant. As an entrepreneur, being more focused on the outcome than the process can be counterproductive. e.g near term: closing a great hire, raising a new round of funding, consummating a new BD partnerships, closing a sale, etc or longer term: going public, selling the company, etc. all of these are fantastic goals and the best path to achieving them should be critical to us. That said, focusing on the process will bear more fruit. Things like building a great product, building and nurturing a great culture, presenting a really clear value proposition to customers or partners. That's keeping your elbow in. That's making sure you remove your hitch. That's how you make more baskets, create more value, make more money, and help more people.

Who or what do you think had the biggest impact on the technology industry in 2015?

Hamt Watt: The advances in VR and AR. In my lifetime, I have not witnessed anything that approaches the opportunity in VR and AR. It is the biggest user experience disruption that I ever witnessed. I think most of us are underestimating the possibilities for VR to have a profound impact on a multitude of industries.

What are the technologies or things you think people ought to watch in 2016?

Hamet Watt: More marketplaces that support the future of work and the shared economy. This area was a bit overhyped and has waned a bit but I still think we are in the early days and we will see a much more significant percentage of the working population that will choose micro-entrepreneurship via these marketplaces than we have in the past. More neuroscience-related technologies that deal with the full spectrum from health care to performance.

Hamet Watt is a longtime serial entrepreneur. He was previously co-founder at bLife and MoviePass, founded NextMedium, and was Entrepreneur-in-Residence with True Ventures, among other experience.