20 for 20 — Episode 4: Thank you, Mr. Muir

  • August 19, 2019
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In 2019, we celebrate our firm’s 20-year anniversary with 20 short stories
and lessons learned by investing over $150M in more than 70 companies
and the entrepreneurs behind their origin. These are their stories.

Thank you, Mr. Muir

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
–John Muir

John Muir (b. 1838 – d.1914) was a Scottish-born naturalist, environmentalist, and author who fought to preserve wilderness areas in the western U.S. – including the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park. In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt accompanied Muir on a camping trip in the Yosemite Valley, where they slept under the stars at Glacier Point. The President later remarked that “lying out at night under those giant Sequoias was like lying in a temple built by no hand of man, a temple grander than any human architect could by any possibility build.”

John Muir with President Theodore Roosevelt

By the time Muir met Roosevelt, he had already formed the influential Sierra Club in 1892. He would go on to publish six volumes of writings and pen 300 essays on preservation. Known as the “Father of the National Parks”, Muir’s efforts were rewarded when the U.S. Congress created the National Park Service in 1916. While most of our time at Origin Ventures is spent exploring investment opportunities, our team also has a special affinity for exploring the 61 parks in our National Park system. In the last few years, we’ve visited no fewer than eighteen National Parks, including:

Sure… an office in Salt Lake City in close proximity to Highway 89, aka the “National Park Highway” that links seven National Parks, doesn’t hurt… but we’ve traveled Northwest to Alaska, West to Hawaii, and East to Tennessee and the Carolinas. In fact, we’ve also written travel guides to two of the big ones to make planning a visit less intimidating. Not only have we found inspiration in these parks, but we’ve found inspiration in people like Muir, Grinnell, and Hayden who were very much entrepreneurs in their endeavors to establish Yosemite, Glacier, and Yellowstone national parks, respectively. It’s also behind our choices of  Jon Carmichael (a photographer) and Renan Ozturk (a mountaineer and filmmaker) as speakers at our last two CEO summits. We can learn a lot about entrepreneurship from these non-traditional entrepreneurs

Visitor Trends & Social Media

In 2018, the U.S. National Park system recorded over 318 million visits. The visitor count represents a 13% increase over the 2010 total of 281 million. 2010 also marked the introduction of Instagram, the popular photo sharing app now owned by Facebook. Are the visitor count increases and the social proof of social media posts correlated? It’s certainly possible. We note that just for the eighteen National Parks listed above, there have been no fewer than 12.2 million photos posted using their hashtags.

National Park Conservatory

Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner (b. 1909 – d. 1993) said that “our National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” We agree. That’s why we are pleased to be making a contribution to the National Parks Conservancy to support its important mission. The National Parks Conservancy is a 1.3M member organization that strives to protect America’s iconic National Parks. The organization has 27 offices around the country to inform and inspire citizens and lobby policymakers on behalf of the public interest in our National Parks.

We hope you’ll be one of the more than 330 million annual visitors to our National Parks.

Thank you, Mr. Muir.

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Of course as we’ve visited the National Parks, we’ve taken a LOT of photos. Here are a select few:

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