This series will look at leadership from the point of view of an investor or VC.

In each episode of this series, we will explore what traits, behaviours, or red flags investors see in the leaders that they work with – and how founders evolve over time as they become better leaders.

Bala Kamallakharan is the Founder of Startup Iceland and Managing Director at Iceland Venture Studio. He is also a startup coach, speaker, and 8 time marathon runner.  

Step into the world of Bala as he shares his journey and insights on leadership challenges. His story began when he made a life-changing decision to move from the US to Iceland, seeking a closer connection to family. 

After the Icelandic financial collapse, he took the leap to start his own venture and support founders in building companies. His leadership style is rooted in the idea of servant leadership, where leaders work alongside their team, clearing obstacles and inspiring others to walk the right path. 

As an investor, He emphasizes aligning with founders’ visions and providing support without imposing his own agenda. He values genuine authenticity and aims to build trust with the founders he works with. 

He recognizes that leadership traits are shaped by culture, yet he believes in inspiring others to act and encouraging their growth, regardless of their background. His vision is driven by the joy of seeing the teams he mentors succeed in the marketplace, grow as leaders themselves, and contribute to the betterment of humanity. 

Join Bala on his mission to empower and uplift founders as they navigate the challenging yet rewarding world of entrepreneurship.

You can find Bala at the below links

In the interview, Bala shares

  • “I moved to Iceland, not doing what I do now. I used to work for one of the Icelandic banks. And then the Icelandic financial collapse happened, and then I decided to start my own thing.”
  • “Technology will be a huge leverage, just like capital was. And I felt that, at least to my mind, it was very clear that technology will be a huge leverage.”
  • “Leadership is always about standing in front, inspiring others to walk the way you are walking, or inspiring them to walk the way that you think is right for whatever the context.”
  • “I’m a big fan of the servant leader model. That means you serve them by actually working, not just giving directions.”
  • “Leadership is about inspiring people to volunteer their heart and their mind, and that takes trust and building a genuine relationship.”
  • “In Iceland, captains are not just standing up and giving orders. They actually work with everybody because when you are on the boat in the ocean, you can’t just stand and give orders.”
  • “Leadership is about absorbing a lot of things, pushing forward, and inspiring people to act and move forward. You can’t do that with fear.”
  • “The first rule of investing in venture is you need to have an open mind. There are certain things you know, and there are certain things you don’t know.”
  • “We only work with founders who are mission-driven and are working on hard problems. Our job is to find them, back them, and help them achieve those things.”
  • “What gives me the most joy and satisfaction at the end of the day is to see the teams we work with win in the marketplace and make progress as leaders, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.”