This week, Cory speaks to venture capitalist, actor, entrepreneur and philanthropist Ashton Kutcher, who has famously transitioned from a successful A-list actor to starting venture capital firms A-grade Investments and Sound Ventures with a portfolio including Spotify, Uber, Airbnb and many more. Alongside he has founded non profit foundation Thorn, which drives technology innovation to fight the sexual exploitation of children. In this weeks episode, Ashton talks about how he transitioned from acting to tech, what he learned from working with some of the worlds best entrepreneurs and investors, his insights into the future of jobs and a reflection on his teenage years and more.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) got his
start in the entertainment industry as a model and then as Michael Kelso in That ‘70s Show. Aston is now widely recognized as a successful actor, tech investor, producer, entrepreneur, and activist. Ashton is the Founder of nonprofit Thorn and co-founder of venture capital firm A-Grade Investments. He has invested in over 60 early-stage companies, including Change.org, Skype, Foursquare, Fab.com, Airbnb, and Airtable.
In 2015, Kutcher and Guy Oseary, who was also an A-Grade Investments co-founder, launched Sound Ventures. Ashton has won 9 Teen Choice Awards, a People’s Choice award, and continues to gain experience and achieve what many thought was impossible in the world of tech and entrepreneurship for someone who was once just considered an actor.
In this episode with host Cory Levy (co-founder of After School, Internapalooza), Ashton and Cory discuss entrepreneurship, how Ashton got his start in business, and what Ashton expects from founders he’s investing in. “If you’re going to meet with an entrepreneur and they’re not smarter than you about the thing that they’re tackling, it’s probably not a very good investment.”
Ashton discusses how he got into technology.
“I would say that I learned something from every entrepreneur that I worked with… If I don’t feel like I can learn something from a person I’m investing in, I really won’t invest in them.”
“If you’re going to meet with an entrepreneur and they’re not smarter than you about the thing that they’re tackling, it’s probably not a very good investment.”
Ashton discusses how he got started with autonomous vehicles and how he thinks they will impact the future.
I ask Ashton “What are some ineffective things that you see people do, or spend too much time thinking about, that aren’t necessarily important?”
We discuss what’s controversial now that might not be in the future, including autonomous vehicles and gene therapy.
“I think if it’s not a little bit scary, it’s not that interesting.”
Jobs are disappearing in certain industries. I ask Ashton which jobs will disappear in the next five or ten years.
I ask Ashton about his teenage years.
We talk about how necessary college is, and who it’s right and wrong for.
“What’s something you know you should do but haven’t done yet?”
Ashton talks about how he gets things down, including his process for accomplishing his goals each day.
Ashton’s process for saying no
The importance of knowing what you want to say yes to.