Critical Software

I’m excited to finally lift the veil and talk about what I’ve been working on for the past few months and will be working on for a long time to come.

Ravelin Capital is an early-stage firm backing exceptional founders building Critical Software. Out of our first fund, we are investing checks of up to $400K. We are actively partnering with founders and have made five investments so far.

Around five years ago, two things became evident to me: first, that the decay of our infrastructure, the collapse of our institutions, and the changing geopolitical tides would become the defining issues of our time. And second, that entrepreneurs taking on these challenges, either by developing software solutions for hard industries or verticalizing them with software at its core, would create not just very important, but incredibly valuable companies. These beliefs led me to invest in the first round of companies like Apex, Hadrian, Pylon, Traba, and many others.

Now, as we approach the mid-2020s, it is beyond clear that bringing mission-critical technology to our core industries isn’t merely necessary, but existential. The good news is that, in this new paradigm, a new kind of founder has started to emerge: one that is not simply obsessed with technology, but obsessed with its impact on the real world. One that is not merely aware of the magnitude of the challenges we face, but is emboldened by them. And one that understands what is at stake: not only building the most valuable companies of tomorrow, but the future of Western civilization itself.

Weapons for Rebels

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

- Marcus Aurelius

It is worth reflecting on the question as to why most of the world’s best talent has flown into tech over the last 30 years. The most common answers concern status, capital, and investment returns. These are all, to different degrees, self-evident.

But there is a different, less obvious reason — one that is foundational to why Ravelin exists, even in an environment flooded with thousands of venture firms.

We live in a society that chose, deliberately, to abstract away and vilify its own values. It should be no surprise, then, that all of our major problems are entirely self-inflicted. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to visit the nearest American city to you. The problems you will see there don’t exist because we can’t think of solutions; the solutions are evident, but the fortitude and resolve are less so, and taking action would violate our new-found religions. We rightfully criticize China, but the reality is that Western society went through its own soft, bloodless version of a Cultural Revolution. And as companies became the only remaining form of effective organizations, starting a company became the last act of rebellion.

The mid-2010s marked the moment when the rest of the world realized how powerful these companies could really be. Maybe we could, in fact, reform or supersede some of our institutions. Perhaps the rebels throwing rocks at the windows of the Cathedral could indeed break them. It is no wonder, then, that the mid-2010s also marked the precise moment when every segment of polite society turned against our industry.

A ravelin is a defensive structure of a castle — and, at this point in time, our tech industry is the Western world’s Helm’s Deep. Ultimately, Ravelin exists because we believe the only way forward is through; because we believe that returning to the past is impossible, and yet the status quo is unacceptable. And, finally, because we believe that the decision is ours to make: to choose progress over nihilism; to reject Luddism, but also care enough to build technology to empower, not distract us; to maintain the current course, or to grab back the helm of progress.

In short, we believe that technology is a weapon for rebels in the fight against a society that seems committed to destroying itself. And when we win this battle, it will be due to the courage of entrepreneurs who dared to not only turn their ideas into companies, but to turn their companies into movements. We stand by them.

Lucas B. C. Vaz

Founder and General Partner