Kelso to Capital: Ashton Kutcher's Celebrity Persona Transformed into a Successful Venture Capitalist

·3 min read

Michael Kelso is an easygoing, laid-back teenager who often gets himself into trouble because he lacks common sense. Played by actor Ashton Kutcher, this iconic character has become a beloved part of pop culture. But unlike Kelso, Kutcher is far from lacking in the common sense department. There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the man behind the character.

Life of Ashton: Kutcher was born in 1978 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and began his acting career in 1998 after appearing on a few episodes of “That '70s Show.” His role as Michael Kelso was his breakout performance, earning him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Since then, Kutcher has starred in many films and TV shows, including “The Butterfly Effect,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Punk'd,” “Jobs” and “The Ranch.” He’s also made cameo appearances on the spin-off sequel “That ’90s Show.”

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Kutcher is an acclaimed actor and an active philanthropist. He's been heavily involved with charities such as Malaria No More, Global Action For Children and UNICEF’s Tap Project, which helps deliver drinking water to impoverished nations.

Investments: He has become a major investor in the tech industry, investing in over 50 companies, such as Skype, Flexport Inc., Robinhood Markets Inc. and Airbnb. His venture capital firm, A-Grade Investments, has also invested in successful startups such as Foursquare Labs Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Spotify.

Most recently, Kutcher's Sound Ventures capital firm co-led a $15 million investment in Norway-based climate tech company Chooose. This marks another chapter in Kutcher's long history of travel investments, which includes Affirm, Airbnb, Hipmunk and Citymaps. Chooose offers corporate and airline customers numerous solutions for environmental sustainability such as carbon offsetting, carbon removals and sustainable aviation fuel.

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His investment approach: Kutcher's success as an investor has come from his unique approach to investing. Rather than relying solely on financial figures or spreadsheets, he takes a much more holistic approach when choosing companies for investing. This means looking at broader aspects of a company such as management team experience, competitive landscape and overall market potential. He believes investors need to think beyond the product or service being offered, as there is more to a successful business than its initial offering.

Advice for investors: Kutcher urges investors to avoid “shiny object syndrome” — jumping onto the latest trends without doing proper due diligence beforehand. When evaluating a company, he emphasizes the importance of understanding what it does and how it plans to make money. If you don't understand the core of what a company does and its fundamental business model, it is highly unlikely that you will have any real insight into its long-term success.

Startup tips: He often advises the startups he invests in on how to best improve their businesses by offering his own input on marketing strategies and overall business plans.

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He provides mentorship to the team members of these startups as they strive to make their visions become reality — something many aspiring entrepreneurs can benefit from.

Kutcher's influence within the tech industry extends beyond being an investor. He also uses his platform to advocate for social issues such as equal pay for women in Silicon Valley and education reform initiatives. As a result of his efforts to promote positive change within the tech world and beyond, Kutcher was chosen as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2013. Not only is Ashton Kutcher a savvy investor, but he is also keenly aware of how important it is to use one's power and privilege for good causes.

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