The Nature of Investing: Bees, Capital, and Building a Brand?

By Amy-Willard Cross

Forget about dogs eating dogs. Other metaphors of natural or animal behavior might better serve the business world.  

Katherine Collins, the founder and CEO of Honeybee Capital, has started with bees. With a background in finance and a degree from divinity school, Collins has created a set of principles that sound a bit different. Her firm seeks to guide people to invest in a way that benefits communities and the planet, while using the natural world as a guide and principles such as biomimcry.

Bees got Collins interested in the idea. In an interview, she explains, "At a low point in my career, I met honeybee researcher Professor Tom Seeley at Cornell. It was a big light bulb moment - that the natural system is not just a place to escape, but there was good in there that I could apply to my own work, my own questions. It sent me off on exploration." And it became an exploration that includes a degree from Harvard's divinity school and a new company.

Five years later, she says, "I am finally a beekeeper, I was starting to feel like a fraud."

She talked of being inspired by a nudibranch that lives in an ocean full of predators; they feed off the toxic chemicals of anenomes or others, which can be an example of a different way to manage risk. But the biggest lessons came in thinking about reconnection. Many industries - such as the financial world and the food system - have created efficiencies, layers, silos, and separations, which is very disconnected and ultimately fragile. She says, "focus on the primary activity, and it will help to steer you back to the system."

When you have a question, she says you could ask, "What would nature do? WWND? How would nature perform the function, how would nature solve the problem? You will find examples that are more deeply efficient; you find examples of precesses that are adaptable, resilient, rather than if you take a straight engineering approach to the question."

Next month, Collins will release a new book, "The Nature of Investing."

Collins has put some of her business principles into visual form. In fact, her beautiful series of cards are meant to be guiding principles for many endeavors. 

 

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Main photo: © Anrey - Fotolia.com