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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: April, 2019
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.

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