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The Twenty Minute VC: Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch

The Twenty Minute VC takes you inside the world of Venture Capital, Startup Funding and The Pitch. Join our host, Harry Stebbings and discover how you can attain funding for your business by listening to what the most prominent investors are directly looking for in startups, providing easily actionable tips and tricks that can be put in place to increase your chances of getting funded. Although, you may not want to raise funding for a startup. The Twenty Minute VC also provides an instructional guide as to what it takes to get employed in the Venture Capital industry, with VCs giving specific advice on how to get noticed from the crowd and increasing your chances of employment. If that wasn't enough our amazing Venture Capitalists also provide their analysis of the current technology market, providing advice and suggestions on the latest investing trends and predictions. Join us so you can see how you can get BIG, powerful improvements, fast. Would you like to see more of The Twenty Minute VC, head on over to www.thetwentyminutevc.com for more information on the podcast, show notes, resources and a more detailed analysis of the technology and Venture Capital industry.
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Now displaying: 2019
Jun 17, 2019

Jonathan Hsu is Co-Founder & General Partner @ Tribe Capital, one of Silicon Valley's newest funds on the block being founded by Jonathan, Arjun Sethi and Ted Maidenberg. To date, Tribe has invested in the likes of Carta, Cover, Mode Analytics, Prodigy and SFOX. As for Jonathan, before founding Tribe he was a Partner @ Social Capital where he utilized data and technology to augment sourcing, evaluation of investment opportunities and the management and value add for portfolio companies. Before that he led the creation of the analytics and data science team at Facebook, including leading the hiring of 200 of the world's leading data scientists and analysts.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jonathan made his way from leading 200 data scientists at Facebook to the world of venture and founding his own firm in the form of Tribe Capital today?

2.) If we structure VC simplistically, there are 4 core components:

  • Sourcing: How does Jonathan think about the role of data in actively surfacing the best opportunities? that are the leading data fields that Jonathan would track? Why does Jonathan believe most early-stage firms are just using Linkedin Sales Navigator intelligently?
  • Evaluating: How does Jonathan think about the potential for data to really aid in the picking process? At what stage does this really become possible? How much data is required for data to evaluate opportunities?
  • Winning: Winning deals is seemingly a case of human relationships but how does Jonathan think intelligent data usage and benchmarking can actually help firms win the most competitive deals?
  • Value Add: How does Jonathan think about portfolio management with data? How does this differ from the more traditional "value add" that other VCs provide? Where are the common pitfalls Series A companies you work with face in not achieving product-market fit?

3.) Given the data-driven nature of the approach, does Jonathan think that there is an optimal portfolio construction? Why does Jonathan strongly believe that historical loss ratios are too high? Does data allow firms to really intelligently price these assets at the Series A and B? What are the challenges in pricing these assets so early?

4.) How does Jonathan think about reserve allocation? Why is data more critical than ever in the decision to re-invest or not? What are the leading data signals that Jonathan looks for when determining reserve allocation? Why does Jonathan think that so many firms go wrong in how they approach reserve management and distribution?

5.) Question from Henry Ward @ Carta: What does N of 1 markets mean to you Jonathan? Why are they so inherently attractive? How do pricing dynamics play out in markets that are N of 1? How does Jonathan think about defensibility when analysing opportunities today? Is anything truly defensible anymore?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jonathan’s Fave Book: The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution

Jonathan’s Most Recent Investment: Carta

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jonathan on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Jun 14, 2019

Brad Bao is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Lime, the startup that provides distribution of shared scooters, bikes and transit vehicles, with the aim to reduce dependence on personal automobiles for short distance transportation. To date they have raised over $775m in funding from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, GV, IVP, Uber, Fifth Wall, GGV, Atomico and Bain Capital Ventures just to name a few. As for Brad, prior to founding Lime he was Managing Partner @ Kinzon Capital for close to 6 years and before that spent an incredible 8 years at Tencent in numerous different roles including VP of Business Development for Tencent Games and General manager for Tencent's US branch where he was responsible for Tencent's US operations.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Brad made his way into the world of technology with Tencent, how that led to the world of investing and then what was that a-ha moment for the founding of Lime? How did Brad's time with Tencent impact his operating mentality today with Lime?

2.) With significant levels of competition, how does Brad assess the competitive landscape today for micro mobility? Does Brad believe customer loyalty comes into play in the segment? Is capital itself a defensible moat in this market? Why is Brad adamant that it is important to spend $0 on marketing? What does this say about the product?

3.) How does Brad think about technological innovation within the space? Does it subscribe to Moore's law in the advancement of the core components? How does Brad think about inherent trade-offs that have to be made in product decisions? How does Brad think about prioritising for unit cost vs product superiority? Why can you not have it all?

4.) How does Brad think about launching new cities? What does it take to win in those geographies? What are all the necessary parts to setup when entering a new location? What is the biggest determinant of a location success? Density? Maturity?

5.) Brad has assembled a truly world-class exec team, what does Brad think it takes to attract truly A* talent? When should founders really start to think about building out their own exec team? What does Brad believe it is that makes his partnership with Toby Sun work so well? What have been his learnings from the development of that relationship?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Brad’s Fave Book: Good To Great by Jim Collins

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Jun 10, 2019

Scott Kupor is Managing Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz, one of the world's most renowned venture funds with a portfolio including the likes of Facebook, Airbnb, Github, Lyft, Coinbase, Slack and many more. As for Scott, he has been with the firm since its inception in 2009 and has overseen its rapid growth, from three employees to 150+ and from $300 million in assets under management to more than $7 billion today. Before a16z, Scott was a VP @ HP where he managed a $1.5 billion (1,300 person) global support organization for HP Software product portfolio. Scott joined HP as a result of his prior company Opsware, being acquired, where he served as a Senior VP across numerous roles across an incredible 8-year journey. 

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Scott made his way from the world of law to startups to being Managing Partner at one of the world's most renowned venture firms in the form of a16z?

2.) How did seeing the boom and bust of the dot com bubble and 2008 impact Scott's operating mindset today? Why does he argue that those times are so drastically different to today? How do public markets fundamentally diffferent? How do teams approach to capital efficiency and scaling differ significantly?

3.) What does Scott believe entrepreneurs get most wrong when pitching VCs? Why does Scott argue that product is not the core when pitching VCs? Does Scott agree with Fred @ Okta in weighing it: 70% market, 20% team, 10% product? What is Scott's weighting? Why does Scott believe that the compression of fundraising timelines is a problem? What pitch sticks out to Scott above all others? What made it so memorable?

4.) How does Scott advise founders on determining the right amount to raise for? Does Scott believe that founders should ask for a specific number or a range? Why does Scott believe raising for "runway" is the wrong mindset? Does Scott believe that most bridges are bridges to nowhere? If so, what is the next step? How does one relay that information to the founders?

5.) What have been some of Scott's biggest learnings from building the firm with Marc and Ben? What does Scott believe have been the biggest inflexion points in the public status of a16z? What have been the biggest challenges for Scott in the scaling of the firm? How does he foresee that changing in the future?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Scott’s Fave Book: Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Scott on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Jun 7, 2019

Zach Perret is the Founder & CEO @ Plaid, the startup providing the easiest way for users to connect their bank accounts to an app whether it be transactions, identity or authentication. To date, Zach has raised over $300m with Plaid from some of the best in the business including Mary Meeker, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Felicis, Spark and Homebrew, just to name a few. As for Zach, as CEO he has scaled Plaid to today with over 300 employees, 3 international offices and over 10Bn transactions analysed. Prior to founding Plaid, Zach was a consultant @ Bain.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Zach made his way into the world of startups from consulting at Bain and what led to the founding of Plaid and the mission to unlock consumer finance? What advice would Zach give to emerging grads today, questioning whether to join or start a startup?

2.) What does great leadership and CEOship look like to Zach? How has Zach seen himself evolve and develop as a leader over the last few years? How does Zach think about prioritisation? How does Zach determine what to say yes vs what to say no to? What has Zach found the most challenging in scaling as a CEO? What has he done to mitigate this?

3.) How does Zach think about constructing the optimal recruitment process? What have been some of Zach's biggest lessons in what it takes to really recruit world-class talent? What does Zach mean when he says, "you have to hire for spikes"? How does Zach manage the tension of keeping the high-quality bar whilst also sustaining the very steep growth curve?

4.) Plaid recently raised $275m, how does Zach think about capital efficiency with Plaid today? How does Zach determine when is the right time to transition from the mindset of lean and iteration to raising a war chest and going for the home run? What is Zach's biggest advice to founders when it comes to investor selection? Is it possible for the investor and the founder to be "friends"?

5.) When assessing the fintech landscape today, what is Zach most excited to see develop over the next 12-18 months? How are we seeing much larger incumbents like Goldman innovate in the proliferated world of fintech startups? How does the US view the fintech innovation that has occurred in the UK? What does this mean for US fintechs?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Zach’s Fave Book: Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Zach on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Jun 3, 2019

Zach Coelius is Managing Partner @ Coelius Capital and in his own words, "a pretty eclectic investor who loves to see just about any deal". To date, Zach has made investments in the likes of mParticle, Cruise Automation, Branch Metrics, SkySafe, ProsperWorks and more. In addition, Zach is or has been an advisor to LiveRamp, Hellosign, Art19, Loom.ai, Survata and StartGrid just to name a few. Prior to his investing career, Zach was CEO @ Triggit, an online adtech company which he raised over $18m for and was ultimately acquired in 2015. If that was not enough, Zach is also a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Co.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Zach made his way from the world of operating and adtech to investing and advising startups today? When does Zach feel the ecosystem really started to take him seriously as an investor? What did Zach learn from being in the adtech space that he has applied to his investing today?

2.) The Future of Venture: Naval has previously said we will see "the unbundling of VC", does Zach agree with this view? Why does Zach feel we are seeing both the bundling and the unbundling of venture platforms? What unique challenges does this pose for both sides of the equation? How should entrepreneurs evaluate the different options, bundled vs unbundled?

3.) Portfolio Construction: Why does Zach believe that portfolio construction is fundamentally inefficient? What 2 core areas of venture does portfolio construction cause issues for? When does Zach view to be the ideal insertion point if optimising for absolute returns and not following portfolio construction?

4.) Reserve Allocation and Pricing: Why does Zach think that the current mechanism for reserve allocation is broken? Why is it a fundamentally bias process? What does the optimal investment decision-making process look like to Zach? How does Zach think about the asymmetric information that is gained from being early into a company? How can investors really use it to their advantage? Why do they not?

5.) Why does Zach compare being an entrepreneur to being a gladiator and a rocketship? Why does Alex believe the transition from space articulation to product articulation is the most important thing an entrepreneur can do? What is the true sign of this transition in customer interactions? Where do many entrepreneurs make mistakes here?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Zach’s Fave Book: The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Zach’s Most Recent Investment: Mud\Wtr

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Zach on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 31, 2019

Kulveer Taggar is the Founder & CEO @ Zeus Living, the startup providing a home of your own for business travel with smartly furnished homes for extended stays. To date, Kul has raised over $14m in VC funding from some dear friends of the show in the form of Garry and Alexis @ Initialized, James and Pete @ NFX, Mike @ Floodgate, Y Combinator, GV and Naval Ravikant just to name a few. Prior to Zeus, Kul co-founded Auctomatic alongside Stripe's Patrick Collison, they ultimately sold the company for $5m. Before that, Kul co-founded Bosco, alongside former 20VC guest, Monzo's Tom Blomfield, they raised seed funding from YC before moving to the states to start Auctomatic. If that wasn't enough, Kul has also made several angel investments in the likes of Boom, Airhelp, Meetings.io and more.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Kul made his way from Oxford University to being at the centre of one of tech's most powerful hubs of YC and then with the founding of Zeus? What were Kul's biggest takeaways from his first 2 startups? How did that impact his operating mentality?

2.) What did the idea generation process look like for Kul with Zeus? How was James Currier @ NFX so foundational helping here? Why does Kul believe that the idea "really is everything" today? Why does Kul believe that customer acquisition channels are a core part of the product that must be considered from Day 1?

3.) Before hitting on Zeus, Kul and the team had many ideas, what did that idea validation process look like? How did Kul keep morale high in the team when continuously trying and stopping work on new projects? How does Kul think you can use culture as a superpower? As a leader, how can you be both vulnerable and strong at the same time?

4.) Kul has previously said that "tech-enabled businesses are just much harder than pure software plays". Why is that? What makes them so much more challenging? How do the required skills to be successful change when moving from pure software to tech-enabled? What single question remains the most important to ask when innovating in either?

5.) VCs are not so used to such operationally heavy businesses so how did Kul find the fundraising process? Why does Kul advocate that all founders should speak to investors and A/B test their idea before starting work on it? How did investors differ when comparing SF vs NYC? How did the messaging have to change? What was the most common pushback or concern? What have Initialized done to have such a foundational impact? What makes Garry such a special investor to have on board?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Kul’s Fave Book: How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Kul on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 27, 2019

Geoff Ralston is President @ Y Combinator, the world's leading accelerator with a portfolio that includes the likes of Stripe, Airbnb, Dropbox, Coinbase, Instacart, DoorDash, Flexport and so many more. As for Geoff, he started his career running engineering at Four11, where he built RocketMail, which in 1997 became Yahoo! Mail. At Yahoo! Geoff worked in engineering, then ran a business unit, then became Chief Product Officer. After Yahoo! he was CEO of Lala, which was acquired in 2009 by Apple. Post Lala, Geoff then co-founded the world’s first educational technology accelerator, Imagine K12 which funded dozens of edtech companies including ClassDojo, Remind, and Panorama Education. Imagine K12 merged with YC in 2016.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Geoff made his way into the world of technology and startups, came to found Imagine K12 and how that led to becoming President @ Y Combinator today?

2.) What were Geoff's biggest takeaways from seeing the boom and bust of the macro environment in the dot com and 2008? How did those times impact both his operating and investing mentality? Why does Geoff believe 2000 was "purifying"? Why can the same not be said for 2008? How was 2008 so different?

3.) Frederic Kerrest @ Okta said: "it is 70% market, 20% team and 10% product", would Geoff agree with this weighting? How has his weighting changed over time? YC has "10 Minute Meetings", how can YC really determine whether someone is investable in 10 mins? How does Geoff think about the hailed VC term, "pattern matching"? Why does Geoff believe you lose as an investor if you fall back on "profiles"?

4.) Geoff has worked with 100s of founders in the idea validation stage, how does Geoff know when a founder has the right idea? How does Geoff think about the balance between mission and vision but then also being realistic about when something is not working? When do you quit? Why is the decision internal not external? What is the most important perspective any investor can give a founder?

5.) How does Geoff think about the coined term "product-market fit" and how does he analyse it in terms of retention and growth? If they have some signs of it, how should founders think about when is the right time to raise their first round? How does Geoff think about the benefits for founders of convertibles and now SAFE's? What does Geoff believe will be the future of legal round mechanics?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Geoff’s Fave Book: Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Geoff on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 24, 2019

Mathilde Collin is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Frontreinventing the email inbox with new workflows and efficient collaboration so people can accomplish more together. To date, Mathilde has raised over $79m in VC funding with Front from some of the best in the business including Bryan Schreier @ Sequoia, Initialized, Uncork Capital, Boldstart and individuals including Andrew Chen, Elad Gil, Ray Tonsing the list goes on. With 4,500+ customers, and 100+ employees, in Paris, San Francisco and Amsterdam, Front is one of the fastest growing companies in SaaS and Mathilde has become a thought leader for the next generation of SaaS CEOs, read more on her blog here. 

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Mathilde made her way from product manager in Paris to founding one of the hottest and fastest growing companies in the world of SaaS in the form of Front?

2.) What does Mathilde mean when she says, "I would choose discipline over vision any day of the week"? What does discipline really mean to Mathilde? Why is it a priority in the early days? How can a VC stress test and determine the level of discipline a founder has in first meetings? What are the signs or leading indicators?

3.) Communications:

  • Investor Updates: What is Mathilde's biggest advice to founders when it comes to investor updates? What should they contain? How often should they go out? How should founders ask for help in updates? Where do founders often make mistakes?
  • Revenue Updates: Why does Mathilde do revenue updates with the team? Is there a danger of being too transparent? What are the benefits of this transparency? What is the structure of the update? Who is privy to it?
  • Direct Reports: How does Mathilde communicate with her direct reports? Why does Mathilde believe that CEOs should have their calendar public? What is the right cadence for these direct reports?

4.) How does Mathilde approach and think about fundraises with Front today? How can founders know when is the right time to raise? How does Mathilde think about building relationships with investors when she is not raising? How transparent should founders be when they are not raising? What are Mathilde tips for always overshooting her numbers? How does Mathilde conduct DD on potential investors in the company?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Mathilde’s Fave Book: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Mathilde on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 20, 2019

Jeff Housenbold is a Managing Partner @ Softbank Vision Fund, the leading and most influential firm in the venture space investing more than $93 billion in the businesses and technologies they believe will enable the next stage of the information revolution. To date, Jeff has backed the likes of OpenDoor, DoorDash, Wag, Clutter, Brandless and Katerra just to name a few. Prior to Softbank, Jeff spent 11 years as President and CEO @ Shutterfly, during his tenure the company enjoyed incredible growth with the growth of the team from 103 to 2,600 employees. In the past, Jeff has sat on the board of Caesers Entertainment (the world's largest casino entertainment company), Groupon and Chegg and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeff made his way from being President and CEO of Shutterfly for 11 years to writing $200m-2Bn checks as Managing Partner @ Softbank Vision Fund?

2.) We have Wag on the small end and Uber on the high end, so how does Softbank think about portfolio construction and insertion point today? Blended, at what stage would Softbank like their capital to be most concentrated? Does Jeff believe that ownership is largely built on the first check or built over time?

3.) What does the internal investment-decision making process look like for Softbank? How does this decision-making process change when considering reserve allocation? How does Softbank think about and approach reserves given their later entry into companies? Given the size of check being written, what does diligence look like in the standard process for Softbank?

4.) Given the forthy pricing environment today, how does Jeff assess his own price sensitivity? Does this differ depending on the stage of entry? With many suggesting Softbank have extended the period of privatisation for companies, how does Jeff and the team think about liquidity? How does Jeff think about the future of secondaries for seed managers and angels?

5.) Question from Eric Wu @ Opendoor: How does Jeff think about and analyse the opportunity in fragmented categories? What is the bottoms up thought process to this thesis? Speaking of Opendoor, how does Jeff most like to work with the founders he backs? How does Jeff think about he allocates his time across the portfolio?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jeff’s Fave Book: The Fountainhead

Jeff’s Most Recent Investment: Katerra

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jeff on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

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May 17, 2019

Jon Dishotsky is the Founder & CEO @ Starcity, the startup on a mission to make cities more affordable to everyone allowing you to live with great people in the city you love. To date, Jon has raised over $28m in funding for Starcity from the likes of Social Capital, Y Combinator, Bullpen Capital, NEA and Kima Ventures in Paris, just to name a few. Prior to founding Starcity, Jon did over 3M square feet of commercial real estate transactions for clients including Optimizely, Cruise Automation, Weebly, Zenefits and many more. Before that he spent 8 years at the prestigious Cushman & Wakefield. Jon is also an active angel investor with investments in the likes of Remote, Fond and Savvy.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jon made his way from doing real estate transactions for clients including YC to being one of the hottest prop tech startups making cities affordable with Starcity?

2.) Why did it take so long for the venture ecosystem to get excited by the rise of proptech? What was the catalyst? When advising VCs, how do you advise them to get comfortable investing in these heavy asset, non-lean startup businesses? What are the biggest mistakes investors make when analysing proptech?

3.) What were some of Jon's biggest takeaways from his time at YC? How does Jon advise other founders looking to get into YC today? When it comes to investor selection, in what cases would Jon take a lower valuation against other offers? How does Jon advise founders on investor selection? What questions should they ask? Why is it like hiring? What are the common mistakes that Jon sees founders make when selecting investors?

4.) How does Jon advise founders when it comes to improving the quality of their mental health? Where do Jon struggle? How does Jon engage with social media knowing the psychological effects it has? What have been some major breakthroughs for him? Why does Jon believe having kids has made him a better founder? Why does Jon believe that older entrepreneurs are actually more successful than younger founders?

5.) What is Jon's biggest advice to founders when it comes to building relationships with VCs? Should founders "always be raising"? How transparent should founders be with VCs both in the relationship building process and the fundraise itself?

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jon on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 13, 2019

Mamoon Hamid is a Partner @ Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture firms counting Google, Airbnb, Amazon, Spotify, Square and many more $Bn companies among their portfolio. As for Mamoon, he has invested in and served on the boards of some of the most innovative software companies of recent times including Box, Figma, Intercom, Netskope, Slack and Yammer. Prior to joining Kleiner Perkins, Mamoon was a Co-Founder and General Partner at Social Capital and before that Mamoon was a Partner at U.S. Venture Partners (USVP), where he spent six years.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did Mamoon make the transition from electrical engineer to VC and how did that translate to his role today as Partner @ KPCB?

2.) With Kleiner's new $600m early stage fund, Mamoon had a blank canvas, how does Mamoon think about portfolio construction from a bottom-up perspective? Why is that strategy optimal? How important does Mamoon believe it is for VCs to have a sector focus today? What does he mean when he says, "VCs need to have both majors and minors"?

3.) In today's heated early stage ecosystem, how does Mamoon analyse and reflect on his own price sensitivity? What deal has changed the way he thought about price and he either regrets not paying it or is thrilled he did pay it? How does Mamoon feel about the compressed fundraising timelines we are seeing today? Is this a concern?

4.) How does KPCB think about reserve allocation with the new $600m fund? How do they approach the opportunity cost of dollar deployment in terms of when to stop following on? How does the investment decision-making process change when comparing initial to reserve investment?

5.) Where does Mamoon believe that founders need the most help from their venture investors? Where does Mamoon see the commonalities in founders struggles to scale themselves with their role? What are the biggest mistakes Mamoon sees being made when initial traction has been hit and they start to scale? How can founders avoid these?

6.) How does Mamoon think about and address what it takes to build the most successful and efficient venture partnership? How does Mamoon compare this to a basketball team? Is venture really a team sport today? what are some of the biggest challenges in scaling venture firms over time?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Mamoon’s Fave Book: Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Mamoon’s Most Recent Investment: Viz.ai

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Mamoon on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

May 10, 2019

Michele Romanow is the Founder & CEO @ Clearbanc, the startup that provides entrepreneurs capital to grow without giving up a piece of their company. In 2019 alone, Clearbanc plans to invest $1B in 2,000 companies. To fund these ambitious plans, they have backing from some of the best in the business including Founders Fund, Santi @ Emergence, Social Capital, Precursor Ventures and Y Combinator just to name a few. As for Michele, prior to Clearbanc, she founded SnapSaves, a leading mobile savings platform that was acquired by Groupon. Before Snapsaves, Michele founded Buytopia, one of Canada’s leading e-commerce companies with over 2.5m customers. If that was not enough Michele is also a Dragon on Dragons Den Canada, the youngest dragon ever.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Michele made her way from serial entrepreneur with exits to Groupon and being a Dragon on Dragons Den to changing the way we fund today's businesses with Clearbanc?

2.) Why does Michele fundamentally believe we need to rethink the way we fund our businesses? Why does giving away equity to buy FC and Google ads not make sense? What is the solution? What types of business with what types of revenue does this work for? Why does Michele believe we need to fundamentally stop celebrating fundraisings?

3.) So if Clearbanc lends on repeatable revenue from Google and Facebook, how does Michele think about the volatility of CACs we see as businesses progress? Is Michele concerned by the large incumbents pushing up CACs on traditional platforms? Investors can also be wise strategic advisors, how does Michele think about the potential loss of these advisors and board members with an alternative financing mechanism?

4.) From Clearbanc's data, what have been the big learnings on how venture is currently distributed across the US? To what extent does Michele believe that unconscious bias pervades into the decision-making of much of venture? What have Clearbanc discovered in terms of the diversity of the founders they back, purely through objective data analysis of their businesses?

5.) How does Michele respond when shit hits the fan? What is her coping mechanism? How would Michele advise young founders today in coping with tough times? What were Michele's lessons from her first sturgeon caviar business not being a success?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Michele’s Fave Book: Little Black Stretchy Pants

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Michele on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Want to book your own travel and not have the admin team chasing you for every receipt? Take your business travel program to the next level with TravelPerk. They’ve built the world’s largest inventory of low-cost flights, hotels, airbnb, trains, cars, you name it, all in one gorgeous booking experience. AND they’re built for business. Book, manage, support, analyze, and optimize your business travel, all in one place. Add to this a support team made up of dedicated travel experts who deliver a 7-star experience around the clock, and you’re taking corporate travel out of the dark ages. 20VC listeners can score a free lounge pass to over 1200 airports for a whole year. Not only will you be able to add “company savior” to your email signature, but you can also enjoy the luxury of amazing airport lounges all over the world. Click here to find out more!

May 6, 2019

Brendan Wallace is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner @ Fifth Wall, the fund with the core thesis being the physical world around us is colliding with technology. Within their portfolio is the likes of Lime, OpenDoor, Clutter, ClassPass, Lyric and Hippo just to name a few. As for Brendan, before co-founding Fifth Wall he co-founded Identified, a data & analytics company focused on workforce optimization that was acquired by Workday in 2014. Prior to that, Brendan co-founded Cabify, the largest ridesharing service in Latin America. If that was not enough, Brendan has been an active angel investor having led over 60 angel investments including Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club, Lyft, SpaceX, Clutter, Philz Coffee and Zenefits.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Brendan made his way from founding the largest ridesharing platform in Latin America to changing the face of early stage real estate and consumer retail investing with Fifth Wall?

2.) What is really going on in retail today? Is "retail apocalypse" a fair term to give to the landscape today? What formats does physical retail no longer work for? What is it perfect for? How does Brendan think about the distribution of physical retail for emerging brands? Will they need 1,000s of stores or is the 1,000 store brand era over?

3.) Why do digitally native brands fundamentally need retail? How much of consumer US spend relies on physical retail still today? When do these DNVB's need to expand into physical retail? From speaking to DNVB CEO's what are the most common challenges they face when making the expansion?

4.) How does expanding into physical retail change the game in terms of customer acquisition for DNVBs? At what point do DNVBs hit the invisible asymptote where acquiring customers through traditional online channels is no longer efficient? How have Amazon impacted the CACs for DNVBs in recent years?

5.) Given the consumer retail focus of the fund, one would expect a lower loss ratio, is it right to assume the lower loss ratio? How does Brendan think about portfolio construction with the fund? How does reserve allocation differ when investing in physical retail vs pure software plays? Is Brendan concerned by the lack of downstream capital in the physical retail space?

6.) How does Brendan assess outcome potential when comparing physical retail to pure software plays? Why des Brendan believe we will see a ton of intermediate outcomes? How does this change the type of entrepreneur that Brendan looks to back with the retail fund?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Brendan’s Fave Book: The Great Gatsby

Brendan’s Most Recent Investment: Heyday

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Brendan on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Want to book your own travel and not have the admin team chasing you for every receipt? Take your business travel program to the next level with TravelPerk. They’ve built the world’s largest inventory of low-cost flights, hotels, airbnb, trains, cars, you name it, all in one gorgeous booking experience. AND they’re built for business. Book, manage, support, analyze, and optimize your business travel, all in one place. Add to this a support team made up of dedicated travel experts who deliver a 7-star experience around the clock, and you’re taking corporate travel out of the dark ages. 20VC listeners can score a free lounge pass to over 1200 airports for a whole year. Not only will you be able to add “company savior” to your email signature, but you can also enjoy the luxury of amazing airport lounges all over the world. Click here to find out more!

May 3, 2019

Frederic Kerrest is the Founder & COO @ Okta, the independent and neutral platform that securely connects the right people to the right technologies at the right time. To date Frederic has raised over $415m with Okta from some of the best in the business including Doug Leone @ Sequoia, Marc Andreessen @ a16z, a dear friend of the show in Mike Maples @ Floodgate, Aneel Bhusri @ Greylock and Vinod Khosla, just to name a few. Okta IPO'd in April 2017 at a stock price of $17, today they sit at $102. Before founding Okta, Frederic enjoyed roles with Hummer Winblad on the other side of the table as a VC and also at Salesforce and Sun Microsystems on the operations side.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Frederic came to found the now public Okta having spent time with Salesforce, Sun Microsystems and Hummer Winblad as a VC?

2.) What about an idea makes it worth pursuing and investing in? Does Frederic agree with the advice he was given, "it is 70% market, 20% people and 10% product"? When evaluating a market, what characteristics make for the most attractive markets? How does Frederic think about insertion points into markets? How does he evaluate market adjacencies? Why is it so good to be a monopolist in a small market?

3.) What were some of the hardest times Okta went through? How does Frederic determine the balance between vision and realism? How does Frederic as the leader personally deal with these challenging times? How can a founder determine from their hiring process whether they have product-market fit? What were the key turnings points that contributed to Okta's success? What did you have to get right to keep scaling?

4.) A little birdy told me there was an amazing story behind the a16z investment, what is that story? How did Frederic meet Marc and Ben and how did his relationship with them evolve over time? When analysing his investor base, where did each add real strategic value? What advice does Frederic give to founders today on the theme of investor selection? What should the core considerations be?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Frederic’s Fave Book: Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Frederic on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 29, 2019

Sarah Smith is a Partner @ Bain Capital Ventures, a leading US venture fund with a portfolio that includes the likes of LinkedIn, Lime, SendGrid, Jet.com and more incredible companies. As for Sarah, what a start she has had to her time at Bain leading investments in the likes Perksy and the unicorn that is Lime. Prior to joining Bain, Sarah spent 5 years at Quora both as VP of Advertising Sales and Operations and then also from 2012-2016 as VP of HR, Recruiting, and Operations scaling the company from 40 to 200 employees. Before Quora, Sarah spent 4 years at Facebook as Director of Online Operations where her team scaled revenue to $1 billion ARR while reducing churn and increasing customer satisfaction.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Sarah made her way into the world of venture having seen the hyper-growth of both Facebook and Quora over 9 years in operations? What were the biggest takeaways from her time with Facebook and Quora? What lessons did Sarah learn as an elementary school music teacher that she has applied to her role in VC?

2.) Sarah and Bain led the Series D in Lime, so how does Sarah think about:

  • Market Size: How did Sarah think about and assess market size when evaluating Lime? How does Sarah respond to Peter Fenton's statement, "I always laugh when I hear investors say they look for big markets"?
  • Competition: How did Sarah look to get comfortable entering such a fiercely competitive space? Is capital itself a defensible moat?
  • Dilution: With such huge future funding requirements for these companies, how did Sarah get comfortable with the level of dilution that will surely occur?
  • Hardware & Unit economics: How does Sarah think about and respond to the current level of break rates? How does Sarah believe Lime can have positive unit economics within 18 months?

3.) Why does Sarah believe that engineers are fundamentally underpaid? How does this tie into their mindset and attitude to equity? Why does Sarah believe the 4-year vesting schedule is fundamentally outdated? What would Sarah advise founders in terms of comp package to put in it's place? Does Sarah believe the high attrition rate in the valley is a feature or a bug?

4.) Why does Sarah believe it is glib to say the lack of equality is merely the problem of VC being an old boy club? What are the more foundational and systemic problems that have caused this inequality? Why does GP commit fundamentally inhibit diversity? For firms looking to add a female partner, what is their literal next step? What does that process look like? What can they do to ensure their success in the first year? Where does Sarah see many firms going wrong here? What must firms avoid?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Sarah’s Fave Book: Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon ValleyThe Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

Sarah’s Most Recent Investment: Perksy

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Sarah on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 26, 2019

David Rogier is the Founder & CEO @ Masterclass, the startup that brings you online classes taught by the world's greatest minds including Steve Martin, Natalie Portman, Margaret Attwood and more. To date, David has raised over $140m in funding for Masterclass from the likes of IVP, NEA, Javelin, Michael Dearing @ Harrison Metal, Atomico and past guests of the show Sam Lessin and Philip Krim. As for David, prior to founding Masterclass, he was on the other side of the table as an investor with Harrison Metal. Before venture, David spent time with IDEO helping to create new consumer products and brands.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How David made his way into the world of startups? How a lesson from his grandmother when he was only 7 shaped the type of company David wanted to build?

2.) David has previously said, "as a founder, you have one job". What is that job? How does David think about how raising VC changes outcomes? Why does David think many founders approach fundraising the wrong way? What questions must founders always ask a VC pre-term sheet? How can founders do their work and diligence on the VC?

3.) Why does David try at all costs to not send the deck to the VC ahead of meeting? Why can this be damaging? How can founders say no politely? Does David agree with the conventional wisdom that "founders must always be raising"? What is the optimal way to structure relationship building with investors?

4.) What does David mean when he says, "pick your investors as board members, not investors"? What does David believe makes the truly special board members? What were David's biggest learnings from Michael Dearing @ Harrison Metal when it comes to boards? What does David believe are big red flags in potential future board members?

5.) When validating the idea and the product, how does David think founders should use testing to prove their thesis at every stage of the business? Why, if proved, does this automatically secure your funding for the next round? What do VCs like to see in this testing? How does David think about when is the right time to go and raise big?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

David’s Fave Book: Creativity Inc

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and David on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 22, 2019

Jeremy Liew is a Partner @ Lightspeed Venture Partners, one of the leading firms of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Snapchat, Mulesoft, Max Levchin’s Affirm, AppDynamics and many more incredible companies. As for Jeremy, he is best known for being the 1st investor in Snapchat and has also led investments in StitchFix, Affirm, Ripple, Giphy and Bonobos just to name a few. Previously, Jeremy was with AOL, first as SVP of corporate development and chief of staff to the CEO, and then as general manager of Netscape. Due to his incredible investing success, Jeremy has been featured on the Forbes Midas List multiple times.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeremy made his way into the world of venture with Lightspeed and came to be one of the valley's leading consumer investors and minds?

2.) How does Jeremy think about and approach sourcing today? How has mindset on sourcing shifted over the last decade? For a new VC, what would Jeremy advise them in terms of building them benchmark for distinguishing between good and great? How does Jeremy distinguish between good and great? Who does Jeremy believe is the most naturally gifted sourcer and hunter he has worked with?

3.) What does Jeremy mean when he says, "it is more important to be right than contrarian"? From winning some of the hottest deals, what have been Jeremy's lessons on what it takes to win the most competitive? What does he mean when he says, "you have to find your home advantage"? Should investors spend time amplifying their strengths or improving their weaknesses? How does Jeremy think about the round compression timelines on hot deals today? How can investors and founders build relationships fast?

4.) Why does Jeremy believe that founder to VC engagement can be similar to a driving instructor and student? What are the biggest mistakes startups make when they hit initial traction and start to scale? WHat patterns has Jeremy seen? How can founders avoid them?

5.) How does Jeremy fundamentally structure his week and time? What time is devoted to internal meetings and partnership meetings? How much time is allocated to the existing portfolio? How much time is spent with new prospective companies? What is Jeremy's favourite and least favourite activities within the role?

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Jeremy on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 19, 2019

Dylan Field is the Founder & CEO @ Figma, the startup that provides a better way to design, prototype and collaborate, all in the browser. To date, Dylan has raised over $82m in funding from some of the world's best investors including Sequoia, Greylock, Kleiner Perkins, Founders Fund, Index Ventures and more. Prior to changing the world of design with Figma, Dylan held roles at Flipboard, Microsoft and LinkedIn and was part of the renowned Thiel Fellowship.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Dylan made his way from Thiel fellow to changing the world of design and prototyping with Figma?

2.) What is the story behind the 4-year journey to the launch of their first product? How did Dylan maintain morale with such an extended window between creation and launch? What are the core challenges of building tools companies and getting initial traction? How did Dylan satiate VCs desire for fast growth with such a long period to launch? Is it possible to "go slow to go fast" with VC dollars?

3.) Sequoia led Figma's Series C, how did the round come together? What was it that made Dylan choose the lead investors for each of his rounds? How did this round compare to prior rounds led by Index, Kleiner and Greylock? How does Dylan advise founders to build relationships of trust and transparency with their VC in short period of time?

4.) How did Dylan approach the topic of board construction? What did he most want to get out of his board? What have been some of Dylan's biggest learnings when it comes to board management? What has Dylan found the most challenging element?

5.) As a young founder himself, where does Dylan see commonalities in the mistakes that other young founders make today? As a young founder, how has Dylan been able to hire A** talent execs? What have been some of the biggest learnings on team assembly and construction through the process?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Dylan’s Fave Book: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Dylan on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 15, 2019

Dave Sobota is the Vice President of Corporate Development @ Instacart, the company that delivers your groceries in as little as 1 hour. To date the company has raised over $1.9Bn in funding from some of the very best investors and operators including Mike Moritz @ Sequoia, Jeff Jordan @ a16z, Aaron Levie @ Box, Sam Altman, Garry Tan and more incredible names. As for Dave, prior to Instacart, he was Director of Corporate Development @ Google for over 10 years and before that was with leading law firm, Wilson Sonsini.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Dave made his way from the world of law to Director of Corporate Development at Google to his position at Instacart today?

2.) In 2016, we had 513 BC backed exits, 499 were M&A, so how does Dave assess the M&A landscape today? Why id Dave bullish on the future M&A environment, at least for the next 12 months? Where are his concerns around M&A clustering? How does Dave view the entrance of large scale PE into the tech M&A arena?

3.) From leading Google's M&A practice, what have been Dave's core learnings on whether an entrepreneur should sell their company or remain independent? Paul Graham once said, "startups only talk to corp dev when they are doing really well or really badly". Does Dave agree? What are the reasons a startup would not speak to corp dev? What is the right way for them to communicate this while leaving the door open for future conversations?

4.) How does Dave operationalise the tracking of the startup market and determine what startups he wants to meet? How does Dave like to and think about working with the VC community here? What does that relationship building process look like? In those early meetings, what are the core questions that founders must ask? How much of a role does price play for Dave when considering an acquisition?

5.) How can founders ensure when they sell their company, that it will be properly integrated? What answers from the acquirer suggest it will or will not be? From countless M&A processes, what do the best integrations look like post-acquisition? Where are mistakes often made? Does Dave agree with Paul Graham in stating it is a "gruelling" process?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Dave’s Fave Book: Lonesome Dove

Dave’s Most Recent Acquisition: Tenor

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 12, 2019

Henry Ward is the Founder & CEO @ Carta, the startup that helps private companies, public companies, and investors manage their cap tables, valuations, investments, and equity plans. To date, Henry has raised over $147m in funding from some of the industries leading investors in USV, Spark, K9 Ventures and Meritech and then also leading founders including Flexport's Ryan Petersen, Transferwise's Taavet Hinrikus and Slack's Stewart Butterfield. Prior to founding Carta, Henry was Founder of SecondSight, a portfolio optimization platform for retail investors.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Henry made his way into the world of startups and came to found the gamechanger of cap tables and valuations with Carta?

2.) What does Henry mean by the term "executive half-life"? How does Henry determine between an exec that can scale with the company and an exec that cannot? What are the leading indicators? When weaknesses are revealed, how does this manifest itself? Does the exec open up and admit to it or does the leadership team have to be proactive?

3.) Question from Manu @ K9: As a first time CEO, what have been the biggest personal challenges for Henry in the scaling of himself? Why does Henry think it is unfair founders are given exemption from blame in scaling but execs are not? How does Henry make decisions differently now to the early days? What have been the improvements?

4.) How does Henry buck the conventional wisdom with his willingness to go after very small markets? What does the N of 1 vs 1of N rule mean here? Why does Henry believe the N of 1 markets is the most attractive? What are the core advantages to owning your market? How can founders think about insertion points? When is the right time to add additional products? How does Henry respond to the traditional notion of "focus"?

5.) Why does Henry believe most founders are afraid to put investors to work? If fundraising is, as Henry suggests "an auction process", what can founders do to optimise it? How does Henry approach the element of value creation and value extraction? How does this influence his approach to pricing? How does Henry think more tech founders can leverage acquiring services businesses and automating their processes over time? Where is the arbitrage in pricing here?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Henry’s Fave Book: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Henry on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 8, 2019

Dayna Grayson is a Partner @ NEA, one of the leading venture firms over the last 4 decades with a portfolio including the likes of Opendoor, Jet.com, Uber, WorkDay, Plaid, Box and many more incredible companies. As for Dayna, she has led the firm's investments in the likes of Desktop Metal, Formlabs, Onshape, Glamsquad, Framebridge and Curalate, just to name a few. Prior to joining NEA, Dayna was an investor at North Bridge Venture Partners where she championed companies including Camiant (acquired by Tekelec) and Tapjoy. Before venture Dayna was an engineer at Eye Response Technologies, later acquired by Dynavox Mayer-Johnson and also a product designer at Blackbaud (BLKB), the leading global provider of software to nonprofit organizations.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Dayna made her way into the world of venture and came to be a Partner at NEA from her roots in product design and engineering?

2.) Sourcing: How does Dayna approach the sourcing component of venture today? What does the deck filtering process look like to Dayna, prior to meeting? What has Dayna found works best in really building rapport in the first meetings? What does the conviction building process look like for Dayna from there? If negative, how has Dayna found is the most effective way to say no?

3.) Decision-Making: How does Dayna think about optimising the investment decision-making process? How does Dayna balance between data vs gut? Does NEA require unanimous decision-making? Why does Dayna believe that at A or earlier, the price really does not matter? When does price really become a big issue?

4.) Evolution of Expectations: How does Dayna believe entrepreneurial expectations of VC has changed over the last decade. Where does Dayna believe investors can really provide the most value? Which board member has been the most impressive to Dayna when sitting alongside them on the board? Why?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Dayna’s Fave Book: Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America

Dayna's Most Recent Investment: WhireWheel

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Dayna on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Apr 5, 2019

Jeff Russakow is the CEO @ Boosted, the startup producing vehicle grade electric skateboards rethinking how we travel. To date, they have raised $74m in funding from the likes of Khosla Ventures, iNovia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and our friends at Initialized. Prior to Boosted, Jeff was CEO @ Gimbal where he doubled revenue in his first year and added 80 new enterprise clients. Before that, Jeff was the CEO @ Findly where he grew the company to 450 employees and 20m end users. Jeff also enjoyed prior roles with the likes of Symantec, Adobe, SAP and Yahoo.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeff made his way from leading enterprise CEO to re-thinking the way we travel today as CEO of Boosted?

2.) How does Jeff analyse the current sentiment to fundraising in the valley, specifically with regards to business construction? How has Jeff seen the investor class fundamentally transition over the last 20 years? When approaching investor selection, what is the 1 question that Jeff always asks? Where do founders often make mistakes here?

3.) Having raised the $60m round in 2018, how does Jeff approach the theme of capital efficiency today with Boosted? How does Jeff determine when is the right time to pour fuel on the fire? Why is Series B often the most challenging phase when considering the focus on unit economics and vision simultaneously?

4.) What is Jeff's gut reaction to the statement, "hardware is hard"? Why does Jeff feel this to be a glib statement that misses the point? How does Jeff respond to the criticism of the commodity element of hard, easy to replicate and copy? How would Jeff like to see the investor class change their mindset to hardware? What is the right way to approach it?

5.) What are the core elements required for a successful CEO transition? For a potentially incoming CEO, what must they be wary of with regards to the information conveyed to them by investors of the company? Where has Jeff seen many go wrong in CEO transitions? What can the founders do to make this process as smooth as possible?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jeff’s Fave Book: The Missing Piece 

As always you can follow Harry and The Twenty Minute VC on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

 

Apr 1, 2019

Garry Tan is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner @ Initialized Capital, one of the West Coast's leading early-stage funds with a portfolio including the likes of Coinbase, Instacart, Cruise, Flexport and Opendoor, just to name a few. As for Garry, before co-founding Initialized, he was a partner at Y Combinator for nearly five years where he advised and funded over 600 companies. He was also co-founder of YC-backed blog platform Posterous (acquired by Twitter in 2012). Before that he was employee #10 at Palantir, where he was a founding member of the engineering team for Palantir's financial analysis product, and also fun fact, Garry designed Palantir's logo.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Garry made his way from Founder and YC Partner to managing over $500m AUM today with his leading of Initialized? How did Garry's investment mindset change with the transition from angel to an institutional investor?

2.) What does Garry believe is the one thing pre-seed and seed investors must do that is more important than anything else? What relationship to the very best founders have with failure? How do they think about and approach it? How has Garry seen his own conviction building process in founders change over time? How does Garry approach the turning down of opportunities? What is the right way to deliver that feedback?

3.) Ownership: Initialized's funds have scaled from Fund I being $7m to Fund 4 being $225m, how have their ownership requirements changed with the evolution of their fund size? How does Garry think about collaboration and co-opetition with others funds as a result? What are the core challenges here?

4.) Price Sensitivity: With the larger fund and slightly more flexibility, how does Garry evaluate his own price sensitivity? What deal has Garry passed on due to price and it has stuck with him and taught him a valuable lesson? On pricing, how does Garry and Initialized approach reserve allocation?

5.) Investment Decision-Making: Garry has previously said "decision-making is a differentiator", what do Initialized do to ensure the highest quality of internal discussion and decision-making? How do they approach unanimous vs single partner decision-making? How does Initialized approach internal attribution with this in mind?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Garry’s Fave Book: Peter Thiel's Zero To OnePaul Graham's Hackers and Painters

Garry’s Most Recent Investment: Standard Cognition

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Garry on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Mar 29, 2019

Joel Gascoigne is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Buffer, the social media management tool that makes it easy for businesses and marketing teams to schedule posts, analyze performance, and manage all their accounts in one place. They had raised both seed and Series A rounds but last summer, spent $3.3m to buy out the majority of their Series A investors, making them much more independent. Joel now runs Buffer as a profitable business with $2m in profit in 2017 and $3m in 2018. Before co-founding Buffer, Joel co-founded OnePage and StartupMill and was a web developer in the UK.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Joel made his way from web developer in the UK to founder of Buffer, in 2018 a business that did $3m in profit?

2.) What does Joel mean when he says that "fundraising is a bigger decision than most people realise"? At what moments does Joel believe that the founders are no longer the boss? When did Joel feel he was no longer the boss? What does Joel wish founders knew more about the VC process and mechanics? What questions must they ask VCs?

3.) Would Joel agree with Anand Sanwal, previously on the show that "VCs foie-gras their startups", forcing synthetic growth? What is the right way for founders to respond to this pressure? How did Joel personally handle the pressure? How does Joel assess and analyse the current VC ecosystem? What would he most like to change?

4.) There was a time when individuals did not want Joel to be CEO, how did Joel deal with that? What would Joel advise founders in the same position? What are the right steps to take? Joel then lost his co-founder, how was that process for Joel? What does he know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning of that process? How does he look to retain that level of support and guidance from someone other than a co-founder?

5.) What does Joel mean when he says, "leaders must lean into transparency"? Are there any limitations to being overly transparent? Now as a profitable company, how does Joel think about profit sharing with the team? What does profitable status allow the team to achieve and do that is not normally possible for VC backed co's?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Joel’s Fave Book: A Little Life

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Joel on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

Mar 25, 2019

Alex Clayton is a Partner @ Spark Capital, one of the leading firms of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Slack, Postmates, Oculus, Cruise, Twitter, the list goes on. As for Alex, he co-led Spark's investments in Pendo and Outreach and then led Spark's investments in Justworks, Braze (Appboy) and JFrog. Before Spark, Alex spent three years at Redpoint Ventures as a senior associate where he sourced or was actively involved in the firm's investments in Duo Security, JustWorks, RelateIQ (Salesforce.com), Infer, Lifesize and Sourcegraph. Prior to joining Redpoint, Alex was in the TMT investment-banking division of Goldman Sachs where he worked with Intuit, Yelp, SanDisk, and others. Fun fact, in the past Alex played on the ATP World Tennis Tour, competing in the U.S. Open and many other ATP events.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Alex made his way from the world of investment banking with Goldman Sachs to one of the valley rising stars in the world of enterprise investing? What were Alex's biggest takeaways from his time at Redpoint and working with Tom Tunguz?

2.) How does Alex think about and approach sourcing today? How does Alex find most of his deals? How does Alex breakdown both thesis and network driven sourcing? How does sourcing at growth differ to sourcing at the early stage? If Alex has to meet founders when they are not raising, what does Alex advise founders who are told that you should not "always be raising"?

3.) How does Alex think about market sizing and evaluation today? What does he mean when he says he closely examines "market depth"? How does Alex determine whether a company has the ability to scale from a niche into a much larger TAM? What are the risks Alex is willing vs not willing to take when it comes to market?

4.) How does Alex think about competitor analysis when evaluating an opportunity today? In a world of almost infinite capital, does Alex believe that cash alone is a significant moat for competition? In customer calls when they discuss competition, what excites Alex to hear? How does Alex structure those customer reference calls?

5.) Alex has studied some of the best in class when it comes to SaaS, what do the best in class look like when it comes to: 1.) Quota attainment. 2.) Payback period. 3.) Net dollar retention and churn? 4.) Capital efficiency? Growth rate? Ultimately, what does Alex believe that it takes to go public having studied so many S1s?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Alex’s Fave Book: Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Alex’s Most Recent Investment: Braze

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Alex on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

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