Finding success in forging a path of upsides
DARE TO LIVE. Christian Angermayer and the investment firm he founded, Apeiron Investment Group, have their fingers on the leading edges of technology—with a portfolio in crypto, fintech, biotech, novel foods and more. But despite being a prolific investor, who has created a self-made fortune of approximately US$ 2 billion, Christian considers himself an entrepreneur at heart.
A desire to build and create has been the driving force throughout Christian’s life. So much so that a month after he had enrolled at the University of Bayreuth in southern Germany in 1998, he had the opportunity to co-found the biotech company Ribopharma. He had no qualms about dropping out to focus on building his company.
“I was very confident that Ribopharma was going to succeed. And I had a prestigious scholarship for my academic results in high school, so even if it had failed, there would have been a way for me to return to academia. So, there was no downside to skipping university” he says. Ribopharma eventually merged with pharmaceutical company Alnylam, and today it has a market cap of about $20 billion.
Of course, being faced with creating a company at age 20 and having to drop out of university was a daunting decision to make, Christian says. “But we need to know what makes us happy, and dare to live according to it,” he says. He loves building and creating, and there is nothing but upside to forging ahead and doing what makes him happy, he adds.
THE UPSIDES OF BEING GAY. For Christian, being gay played an integral role in his current success. He knew he was gay from a young age, but growing up in Wiesau, a small town in Bavaria with a population of around 2,000, he knew coming out would not have been wise or easy. He consciously decided to lay low and focus on other things first. “I knew I would be off to university soon, so why bother, especially when there hadn’t been any other gay people around me to date anyway.”
By not being distracted with dating, he was able to focus on getting a prestigious scholarship, which allowed him to meet the scientists with whom he ultimately co-founded Ribopharma. “If I had been straight, I probably would have dated a lot, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten my outstanding grades, and subsequently wouldn’t have met my co-founders.”
And perhaps because Christian sees the upsides in everything, it is easier for him to make those tough decisions. He admits that there will be life decisions where you can’t see any upside at first. “But I deeply believe life is inherently good and positive, and if you have positive thoughts, they will ultimately materialize in an amazing reality.” Asked about the influences which have shaped his philosophy, he foremost credits his various experiences with psychedelics. Christian is a vivid proponent of psychedelic substances like magic mushrooms, in controlled and legal environments, and founded the biotech company atai Life Sciences. The pioneering business is developing psychedelic substances as potential treatments for a wide range of mental health issues.
“Being gay is kind of like being an entrepreneur. You have to create and follow your own path.” When he came out to his parents, they were disappointed at first. “But their disappointment was not the same as disapproval. It was because they saw I was on a path they didn’t know much about, and they worried for me. Today, we have a great relationship.”
The same holds for the entrepreneur’s journey: people will have expectations for you and what your path should be. “You need to be true to yourself, or you won’t be happy and cannot succeed. At the end, listen to your soul, your inner voice, or whatever you want to call it. You and you alone know what’s the right path for you.”