The Twenty Minute VC (20VC): Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch

The Twenty Minute VC (20VC) interviews the world's greatest venture capitalists with prior guests including Sequoia's Doug Leone and Benchmark's Bill Gurley. Once per week, 20VC Host, Harry Stebbings is also joined by one of the great founders of our time with prior founder episodes from Spotify's Daniel Ek, Linkedin's Reid Hoffman, and Snowflake's Frank Slootman. If you would like to see more of The Twenty Minute VC (20VC), head to for more information on the podcast, show notes, resources and more.
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The Twenty Minute VC (20VC): Venture Capital | Startup Funding | The Pitch









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Sep 28, 2015

Kirsty Nathoo is the CFO of Y Combinator. As CFO, she holds the keys to the kingdom – literally. Not only does she control and manage Y Combinator’s internal finances, from paying bills to helping organize demo days to actually making sure Y Combinator’s money is wired to startups from the proper accounts; but she helps YC startups coordinate outside financings, tax issues, incorporation and other fiscal matters. She’s the financial brains behind the entire operation, with YC partner Harj Taggar stating that ‘YC would cease to operate if Kirsty was not around’.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Kirsty made her move from PWC in Cambridge to CFO at the World’s Most Successful Accelerator?

2.) Joining YC permanently in 2010, how has Kirsty seen it develop to today’s current state? What has been the key drivers to the success and growth of YC?

3.) As CFO Kirsty has developed a certain pattern recognition with regards to what investors and VCs like to see in the terms of startups. What are they?

4.) Kirsty has seen the progression of many startups, what are the most common problems startups face in the fundraising cycle? What are the commonalities in those that are successful?

5.) How does YC address the issue of potentially inflated valuations for their alum?

6.) What are some financials that all founders should know all the time?

7.) What is the future for YC? Are we going to see another funding round? Is the YC model scalable? Could we have a YC Europe?


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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito session, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 25, 2015

Alice Bentinck is Co-Founder at Entrepreneurs First, the accelerator program that puts founders first! Previously, Alice worked at prestigious consultancy firm McKinsey & Co, before turning down an offer from Google to found Entrepreneur First alongside Matt. She taught herself to code, and founded Code First Girls in 2013 to help more women get into tech. She sits on the board of Sherry Coutu's Founders4Schools, is on Imperial College London's Department of Computing Industrial Liaison Board, and acted as the Prime Minister's expert on startups at the Northern Future Forum. She has been recognised in Management Today’s 35 under 35 and the Evening Standard’s Top 1000 most influential Londoners.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Alice came up with the idea for EF and why she decided to found the company?

2.) What would Alice recommend is the best way to build a company from scratch? EF is for technical individuals, what can non technical individuals do?

3.) What would Alice say makes a great founder? Has she seen any commonalities in the great founders that have exited EF?

4.) What is Alice's opinion on equity divisions within startups? What is the right way to approach the topic?

5.) What should teams focus on in the first 100 days of their startup? What is the 20% that produces 80% of the results?

6.) What has been the hardest aspect of growing the business and how did Alice overcome it?


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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry and many a mojito session, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 23, 2015

Bob Kocher is a Partner at Venrock and focuses on healthcare IT and services investments. He currently serves on the Boards of Aledade and Jiff, and is a Board Observer at Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand. Prior to Venrock, Bob served in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Healthcare and Economic Policy on the National Economic Council. In the Obama Administration, Bob was one of the shapers of the Affordable Care Act. Before the White House, Bob was a Partner at McKinsey & Company where he led McKinsey Global Institute’s healthcare economics work and Center for United States Health System Reform.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Bob made his way from The White House to Venrock as a VC?

2.) How did working at The White House prepare Bob for his career as a VC, where does Bob have the biggest opportunity to change the healthcare system?

3.) What are the barriers to entry that a preventing full scale innovation and business growth in the healthcare IT space?

4.) Why have we seen a large increase in healthcare startups? What more would you Bob like to see in the healthcare space, either from the side of the startups or VC’s?

5.) How does Bob perceive the integration of software and healthcare in the future?

6.) As a healthcare professional, what would Bob recommend an individual with a high powered, demanding job in order to lead a healthy lifestyle?

Items Mentioned In Todays Episode:

Bob's Fave Book: The System

Bob's Most Recent Investment: Lyra Health

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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito night, you can follow him on Instagram here!

Sep 21, 2015

Michael Treskow is a VC @ Accel Partners, one of the world's most successful venture firms having funded the likes of Facebook, Dropbox, Spotify, Etsy and many more.  At Accel, Michael is responsible for the firm’s investments in SpaceApe, a mobile games developer, and GoCardless, an online direct debt provider. Michael was also instrumental in Accel's investments and ongoing work with Funding CirclePacklinkQubit, Semmle, Trufa and WorldRemit. Prior to Accel, Michael focused on early-stage investments in technology companies at Warburg Pincus in San Francisco, invested in publicly traded technology companies at Highside Capital, and helped advise technology companies as part of Morgan Stanley's investment banking team in New York.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Michael made his way into the VC industry? Do you think it is very important for VCs to have entrepreneurial experience?

2.) How does Michael compare the investing environments between London and SF? What was his biggest takeaway from Warburg Pincus in SF?

3.) Accel is stage agnostic, why is that? What size market attracts Michael? How can Michael tell whether founders have the ability to exploit the market?

4.) What Michael believes are his key value adds? Have these changed over time?

5.) We often hear startups being described as ‘uber for’, ‘tinder for’. Do VCs like this simplification of business? How else would Michael suggest a complex concept can be broken down into something easily digestible?

6.) Does Michael still believe there is room for improvement in the consumerisation of enterprise software? Does Emergence Capital's pivot signal a turning tide?

Items Mentioned In Todays Episode: 

Michael's Fave Book: The Innovator's DilemmaCrossing The Chasm

Michael Productivity Tools: Wunderlist

Michael's Fave Blog or Newsletter: Dan Primack, Term Sheet

Michael' Most Recent Investment: CartoDB

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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito night, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 18, 2015

James Borow is Chief Product Officer at Brand Networks which delivers social marketing and advertising to 650 enterprise customers, following their acquisition of Shift where James was CEO and Co-Founder and led the business to being the No 1 marketing software company for social advertisers with clients such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. James was named a semi-finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in 2014, and is a thought leader in digital advertising, with articles in Forbes, The New York Times, Bloomberg and Business Insider. James is also an active angel investor, having invested in Kixer, a mobile advertising platform, Gradient X, a mobile DSP (acquired by SingTel) and Conversion Logic, an online advertising attribution platform.


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) What were James' entrepreneurial origins and what was his aha moment?

2.) How did James get his first clients and what were the hardest aspects of growing the business?

3.) What was it like working with these tech titans like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin?

4.) Shift obtained $14m in VC funding. How did James meet his investors? How was the fundraising experience for James? What were the surprises and challenging aspects?

5.) Shift was acquired by Brand Networks for $50m but what were James' reasons for selling? Was there any clash between James and his investors when it came to the sale?

6.) What advice would James give to founders contemplating selling their business to larger acquirers?


Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

James' Fave Book: John Adams by Dave McCullough

James' Fave Apps: Snapchat, Business Insider and ProductHunt

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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito session, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 16, 2015

Fabrice Grinda is among the world’s leading Internet entrepreneurs and investors with over $300 million in exits and 200 angel investments including the likes of AlibabaLendingClub and BrightRoll. Fabrice is currently investing in startups and building companies through FJ Labs, which he cofounded with business partner Jose Marin. Fabrice is also co-founder and executive chairman of Beepi, a next generation used car marketplace which recently raised $60 million in series B funding.

Prior to FJ Labs and Beepi, Fabrice was co-founder and co-CEO of OLX, one of the largest websites in the world with over 200 million unique visitors per month.

Submit Your Startup To Fabrice

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did Fabrice make his entry into the world of investing?

2.) How important is it for investors to have entrepreneurial experience?

3.) What are the most common problems Fabrice's portfolio companies face?

4.) What is Fabrice's selection criteria for startups when investing and what determines the valuation of a startup?

5.) How does Fabrice respond to the allegation that he is a clone collector?

6.) With Fabrice's $1m syndicate, does he believe syndicates have the potential to replace VC?


Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Fabrice's Fave Book: What If by Randall MunroeThink Like A Freak by Stephen Dubner

Fabrice's Fave Newsletter: TechCrunch

Fabric's Most Recent Investment: Flexport

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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito session, you can follow Harry on Instagram here!


Sep 14, 2015

Nicholas Chirls is the Founder and Partner @ Notation Capital, one of New York's genuine pre-seed funds investing in pre-growth startups with huge potential. Prior to Notation, Nichoas was Head of Investment at Betaworks, leading investments in companies such as Electric ObjectsEstimoteURXNamo Media (acquired by Twitter) and Grand St. (acquired by Etsy).


If you would like to email Nick, his email is

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Nick made his move into the venture industry?

2.) Who does Nick consider a mentor and thought leader in the VC industry?

3.) Why now is the best time to be a pre-seed fund in NYC?

4.) At the pre-seed stage what metrics does Notation focus on?

5.) How does Nicholas evaluate the valuation ecosystem?

6.) How does Nicholas handle deal sourcing? Where does he find startups to invest in?

7.) Does crowdfunding act as a competing finance method at the pre-seed stage?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Nick's Fave Book: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Nick's Fave Newsletter: Wait But Why

Nick Most Recent Investment: Zipdrug: Your Prescriptions Delivered on Demand

Best Meditation Apps: HeadspaceCalm


As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCNick and Notation on Twitter here!

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many mojito sessions, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 9, 2015

Eric ver Ploeg has sat on both sides of the table as an entrepreneur and a VC. Eric started his career as an entrepreneur with the founding of Adknowledge, the 1st internet ad serving company, which was sold for $193m. He then went on to Angara, a Kleiner Perkins backed startup which led to his move into venture with VantagePoint, where he led VantagePoint's investment activities in the mobile arena, leading over $160m in investments. Eric is also a fantastic writer and his articles can be found on Medium here!

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Eric made the move from Angara, Kleiner Perkins company, to his role in venture?

2.) How being a founder affected how Eric interacted and invested in startups?

3.) How can founders learn the skills of interacting with their investors and board?

4.) What makes the hot companies, hot and the others struggle?

5.) Does Eric agree with startups raising a 'warchest' of funds if they can? How can startups determine what is the right amount to raise?

6.) Why are SF angels so much more successful than other investors? What do they have that other do not?

Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Eric's Fave Book: The Lean Startup by Eric RiesCrossing The Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

Eric's Fave Newsletter or Blog: Tomasz Tunguz

Research and analysis provided by CB Insights

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Eric on Twitter here?

To see a more colourful side to Harry's personality and a few mojito sessions, you can follow Harry on Instagram here!

Sep 7, 2015

Jeff Clavier is the Founder and Managing Partner of SoftTech VC, one of the most established seed VC firms in Silicon Valley, having closed 150 investments since 2004. An early angel investor in Web 2.0, Jeff and his team have backed successful startups like Mint (Intuit)Milo (eBay)Bleacher Report (Turner)FitbitEventbriteSendgridPostmates and Vungle. The portfolio has also seen acquisitions by Groupon, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and AOL. The firm is currently investing out of its $85M Fund IV, making 16 commitments of $850K per year in mobile/cloud saas, consumer hardware, marketplaces and healthcare IT.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeff made his entry into the world of VC?

2.) In a time when hardware was not heavily invested in, what attracted Jeff to Fitbit?

3.) How did Jeff convince Brad to invest in Fitbit?

4.) What can startups do to standout in the crowded market that exists today?

5.) What do startups need to have to get a meeting with you at SoftTech?

6.) What VCs does Jeff most like to invest alongside?

Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Jeff's Fave BookJune by Gerbrand Bakker

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

For a more colourful look into Harry's life, you can follow him on Instagram here!

Sep 6, 2015

Javier Soltero is Corporate Vice President of Outlook @ Microsoft. This position arose due to Javier's startup, Acompli, being acquired by Microsoft for $200m in 2014. Prior to Acompli, Javier spent a year at Redpoint Ventures, where he assisted in helping the firm extend their reach into both enterprise and mobile markets. However, Javier's entrepreneurial career did not start with Acompli, as he co-founded Hyperic, which he bought for $1 and within 5 years turned into a $10m+ revenue generating company.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did Javier start his entrepreneurial career and what were the origins of Acompli?

2.) What was Javier's biggest takeaway from the failure of his first startup, back by Sequoia?

3.) How did Javier control his burn rate once large amounts of VC money was in his company?

4.) How does Javier approach product market fit?

5.) How did Javier meet his investors for Accompli and how did Javier find the fundraising process?

6.) What were Javier's reasons for selling Acompli? Was there any conflict with his investors in selling the company?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Javier's Fave Book: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

Javier's Fave Newsletter or Blog: Wait but Why?

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

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with many a mojito session, you can follow Harry on Instagram here!


Sep 4, 2015

Ben Nader is Founder and CEO at Butterfleye, the most advanced wireless home monitoring system. In other words, Google Nest meets Dropcam. Butterfleye's investors include some of the biggest and most prominent names in the industry including our friends and past guests Brad Feld and Jason Calacanis. Butterfleye currently have a campaign on Indiegogo, which you can support here!


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did Ben come up with Butterfleye?

2.) How does Butterfleye differentiate itself from other competitors like Dropcam?

3.) How much better does a new product have to be to beat the existing incumbents?

4.) Does Ben prefer mass market testing or small targeted testing with fewer individuals?

5.) How did Ben get his first customers?

6.) What has Ben done to drive the success of his Indiegogo campaign? What tips would he give to founders looking to raise on these platforms?

7.) How did Ben get Jason Calacanis as an angel? How did Ben find the fundraising process?


               Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Ben's Fave Book: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

Ben's Fave Newsletter or Blog: Brad Feld's Feld.comJason Calacanis' Launch Ticker

Ben's Fave Productivity Apps: AsanaSunrise CalendarCalm Meditation App

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCBen and Butterfleye on Twitter here!

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry with some mojito sessions to come, you can follow him on Instagram here!


Sep 2, 2015

Sean Seton-Rogers is a founding Partner at PROfounders Capital, a venture capital fund for entrepreneurs powered by entrepreneurs. Their investors and principals number some of the best-known players within the digital media space -- people who have built some of Europe's most successful companies. Prior to PROfounders, Sean has been investing in technology companies across both the US and Europe, when he was at both Balderton Capital and Commonwealth Capital Ventures in Boston. In addition to the PROfounders portfolio companies, he has in the past worked closely with others such as, and ConstantContact.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did Sean make his entry into the VC world at the peak of the first tech bubble?

2.) What was the biggest lesson Sean learnt from experiencing the bubble imploding?

3.) Why are we seeing this trend of US VC funds investing in Europe?

4.) What are the key drivers to the growth of the European tech ecosystem?

5.) Why is there a serious decline in the amount of Series C rounds, only 7 in Q2 2015?

6.) Is Sean concerned by the rise of Crowdfunding? Does Sean see it as a competing finance model to VC?

7.) Do investors on Crowdfunding platforms experience the same deal terms as VCs?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Sean's Fave Book: Robert Cialdini: Influence, The Psychology of PersuasionNeal Stevenson: Cryptonomicon

Sean's Fave Blog or Newsletter: Benedict Evans Newsletter

Sean's Must Have Productivity Tools: EvernoteGoogle Apps

Sean's Most Recent Investment:


As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCSean and PROfounders on Twitter right here!

For a more colourful view of Harry and maybe a few mojito sessions follow Harry on Instagram here! 

Aug 31, 2015

Mattias launched Atomico in 2006 alongside Niklas Zennström. In that time, Mattias has been involved with exits including Supercell (sold a majority stake to SoftBank), 6Wunderkinder (acquired by Microsoft in 2015), The Climate Corporation (acquired by Monsanto for $1.1B in 2013), Xobni (acquired by Yahoo! in 2013). Mattias works closely with a number of portfolio companies on their expansion, including TruecallerKlarnaHailo, and ChemistDirect

Carolina is Vice President @ Atomico, working on sourcing, evaluation and due diligence of investments. Carolina is based in London, however she travels frequently to Latin America to evaluate opportunities for Atomico to help companies in the region to scale. Prior to Atomico, Carolina started her career at Merrill Lynch's investment banking division before moving to private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners.

Did you like the double guest show today? If so click here!

If you prefer a single guest click here! 

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Mattias and Carolina made their way into the VC industry with Atomico?

2.) How important is it for VCs to have entrepreneurial backgrounds?

3.) What advice would Mattias and Carolina give to anyone looking to enter the VC industry?

4.) What is Atomico's selection criteria? Average cheque size? Round preference? Sector preference?

5.) Why is now the best time to be a European entrepreneur? What has changed?

6.) What does it take for a tech ecosystem to thrive and grow?

7.) What is required for startups to scale from small markets to mass market adoption?

Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Mattias' Fave Book: The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

Carolina's Fave Book: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Mattias' Fave Blog or Newsletter: Benedict Evans

Carolina's Fave Newsletter: The SkimDan Primack: TermSheet

Atomics's Most Used Productivity Tools: WunderlistEvernotePocketSmartNews

Atomics's Most Recent Investments: TrueCallerGymPass

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCCarolina and Mattias on Twitter here!

For a more colourful image of Harry and maybe some mojito sessions, follow Harry on Instagram here!

Aug 28, 2015

Carl Waldekranz is the CEO and co-founder of Tictail. With the vision of creating the worlds most used and loved e-commerce platform Tictail has been called the Tumblr of e-commerce and been celebrated as one of Europe's hottest startups. The vibrant community now hosts more than 85,000 stores on their service. Due to this phenomenal growth Tictail recently closed a $22m Series B from BaldertonActonThrive and Creandum.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) What were Carl's entrepreneurial origins and how did Tictail get started?

2.) What does Carl's idea creation process look like? How does Carl brainstorm?

3.) Tictail now sells 2m products on their platform but how did they get their first customers?

4.) At what moment in the Tictail journey was Carl the most worried or frightened?

5.) What would Carl say are the essentials for funding? How did Carl meet his investors? What is the difference between the different funding rounds for startups?

6.) Why did Carl pitch other startups before pitching VCs?

7.) Question from Daniel Waterhouse @ Balderton: How has Tictail maintained the magic company culture in Sweden, whilst expanding to NY?

8.) If Carl could start his time with Tictail again, is there anything he would have done differently?


Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Carl's Fave Book: The Score Takes Care of Itself, My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh

Carl's Fave Blog or Newsletter: First Round Capital Blog

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCCarl and Tictail on Twitter right here!

If you would like to see a more colourful side to Harry and a few mojito sessions, you can follow Harry on Instagram here!

Aug 26, 2015

Seth Levine is one of the most successful VCs on the planet having Co-Founded Foundry Group, Seth has made investments in the likes of Fitbit (IPO)Admeld (acquired by Google)Zynga (IPO) and Gnip (acquired by Twitter). The Foundry Group now has 5 funds, 4 early stage and 1 growth fund, totalling over $1bn in assets. Prior to Foundry Group, Seth started his career in venture with Mobius Venture Capital and lead the IPO of FirstWorld in 2000. Seth writes an awesome blog on technology, venture capital and colorado at

If you enjoyed today's show, share the love on Twitter by clicking here! 

In Today's Show You Will Learn:

1.) Where it all started for Seth and how he made his move into the technology and venture industry?

2.) Question from James Altucher: Do you have to be in Silicon Valley to get the best access to deal flow?

3.) How has Foundry group developed since 2006 as VC firm?

4.) Why are all funds raised by Foundry the same, $225m? How is VC fundraising the same as startup fundraising?

5.) Question from Elizabeth Kraus: How does Seth stay motivated having enjoyed so much financial success with Foundry Group?

6.) What areas of tech is Seth most excited about?


Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Most Used Apps: SlackVoxerDarkSky

Seth's Fave Book: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Seth's Fave Blog or Newsletter: Hidden Brain

Seth Most Recent Investment: Sourcepoint

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCSeth and Foundry Group on Twitter here!

For a more colourful view of Harry's world and maybe a few mojito sessions, check out Harry's Instagram here!

Aug 24, 2015

Brad Feld is one of the world's leading VCs having Co-Founded Foundry Group, Brad has made investments in the likes of ZyngaMakerbot and Fitbit, just to name a few. Brad is also Co-Founder of Techstars, one of the world's most prominent startup accelerators, whose portfolio companies have raised over $1.3bn in funding.


If that wasn't enough Brad is also a best selling author having co-athoured Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and VC, alongside Dick Costolo and Startup Communities: Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your Community. In addition to his investing and writing, Brad has been active with several non-profit organizations and currently is chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and co-chair of Startup Colorado. Brad is a nationally recognized speaker on the topics of venture capital investing and entrepreneurship and writes the widely read blogs Feld ThoughtsStartup Revolution, and Ask the VC.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Brad made his move from entrepreneurship to VC and later co-founding, The Foundry Group.

2.) Does Brad agree with the view that it is important for entrepreneurs to fail?

3.) Why did Brad turn Fitbit down on 1st opportunity and what changed the 2nd time?

4.) What gets Brad excited in a startup? What areas are Brad most interested in?

5.) What is the main characteristic that makes the Foundry Group the huge success it is?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Brad's Fave  Business Books: 

1.) Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

2.) Hot Seat by Dan Shapiro

Brad's Fave Blog or Newsletter: Fred Wilson's BlogDan Primack: TermSheetMatterMark Daily

Brad's Most Recent Investments: GlowForge: The 3D Laser PrinterSphero


As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCBrad and Foundry Group on Twitter here!

Aug 21, 2015

Sarah Schupp is the CEO and founder of UniversityParent. UniversityParent is the #1 site for college parents to find everything they need to help their children succeed. The company, which began with a single print guide for the University of Colorado Boulder, now prints parent guides for more than two hundred colleges, features information for 3,000 colleges and universities on its website, and distributes a weekly e-newsletter. In May 2014, UniversityParent celebrated its 10th anniversary and was named to the Mercury100, BizWest’s ranking of the 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in Boulder Valley.

Sarah has been named one of Inc. Magazine's Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, Businessweek's top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25, and one of the Denver Business Journal's Top Women Under 40. She’s been named a "Player to Watch" by the Gates Foundation, and was recognized by the White House and the United Nations as one of the country's top young entrepreneurs.

In Today's Show You Will Learn:

How the idea for UniversityParent came about?

How did Sarah manage to juggle a growing business with a University degree?

How individuals can leverage their university network to grow their business?

How important is it for entrepreneurs to be surrounded by like minded entrepreneurs?

In what circumstances should founders confide and not confide in their team?

How does Sarah as a leader show her support for her team?

How has Sarah found the fundraising process and what would Sarah change if she could start over?

Items Mentioned In Today's Show:

Harry's Fave Book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Sarah's Fave Book: The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo

Sarah's Fave Newsletter or Blog: Think With Google

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

Aug 19, 2015

Nick Beim is a Partner @ Venrock where he focuses on internet, mobile, SaaS, big data and fintech investments. Nick blogs on the economics of innovation at Nick led the initial venture investments in a number of pioneering consumer internet companies including the Gilt Groupe, and (IPO). He also led the initial investments in a number of today’s leading big data innovators including Dataminr and Intent Media. Prior to joining Venrock, Nick was a General Partner at Matrix Partners and worked in the technology groups at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Nick’s primary passion outside of venture investing is international development, in particular accelerating international development through entrepreneurship. Nick serves on the board of Endeavor, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in developing countries that Tom Friedman has called “the best anti-poverty program of all.”

In 2011, Forbes named Nick one of the “Elite 8″ to watch in Venture Capital.


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Nick made his move into venture and started a bidding contest between two funds a bank for him!
  • How Nick got to be involved with DataMinr and how Nick believes society will use data in the future?
  • How does Nick standout in the super competitive rounds? What is Nick's value add?
  • Is it still harder for female founders to get VC funding? Why? 
  • What can be done to improve this imbalance in the tech ecosystem?
  • What is impact investing? How do you balance LP returns with social impact improvements?
  • Our friend @ August Capital, David Hornik asks Nick, what is the difference between investing in NY compared to SF? 


Items Mentioned in Today's Show:

Nick's Fave Book: Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Nick's Fave Newsletter or Blog: Reid Hoffman, Essays on Entrepreneurship


Aug 17, 2015

Ezra Galston is a VC @ Chicago Ventures, where he focuses on consumer facing and marketing tech investments and is actively involved with BlitsyBloomNationKapow EventsLuxury Garage Sale, Shiftgig, SpotHero, and Zipments. Ezra’s thoughts on startups, have been published in the Wall Street JournalTechCrunchVentureBeat and Re/code.
Prior to Chicago Ventures, Ezra was a Young Entrepreneur at Foundation Capital. Before business school, Ezra served as the Director of Marketing for CardRunners Gaming – the parent company of CardRunners, Hold’em Manager and DraftDay – and before then earned a living as a professional poker player. If that wasn't enough he is also the author of one of our fave VC blogs

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Ezra became a Poker Player and then transitioned to the world of Venture Capital?
  • What is the mission with Chicago Ventures? Average ticket size? Preferred sector? 
  • How important is it for startups to be close to their investors, geographically and relationship wise?
  • For marketplace startups, what metrics does Ezra really deep dive on?
  • With the likes of Instacart raising huge rounds, why are we seeing this huge increase in food tech?
  • In hugely crowded markets, how does Ezra sort the wood from the trees?
  • What advice would Ezra recommend to individuals looking to enter the VC industry?

Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Ezra's Fave Book: The Little Prince

Ezra's Fave Blog or Newsletter: Stratechery by Ben Thompson,

Ezra's Fave Productivity ToolsRapportiveBitmoji

Ezra's Most Recent InvestmentLuxury Garage SaleAttendant

Bill Gurley: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces

HungryRoot: Charlie O'Donnell, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures

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

Aug 14, 2015

Pierre Valade is Co-Founder and CEO @ Sunrise, the beautiful calendar app, acquired by Microsoft for $100m in February 2015, where he now works on Outlook Mobile for Microsoft. Prior to Sunrise, Pierre worked as a UX designer @ Foursquare following a successful hackathon in which he built an app in 6 hours, called Agora. Agora impressed Foursquare Founder, Dennis Crowley to the extent that Pierre was hired in the same month. As a result of Pierre's success he was named on the Innovators Under 35.


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Pierre came up with the idea for Sunrise?
  • What made Sunrise standout above all calendar apps as the best calendar?
  • What features are most requested by Sunrise users?
  • How was the design process in altering the design from a iPhone to a Apple Watch?
  • What was Pierre and Sunrise approach to testing and iterating products?
  • Having raised VC funding prior to acquisition, how did Pierre meet his initial investors, what was his fundraising experience like? Were there any surprises or challenges?
  • How did the Microsoft Acquisition come about? How has Pierre's role and Sunrise changed since the acquisition?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Pierre's Fave BookZero To One: Peter Thiel

Pierre Most Impactful PurchaseiPhone 6

Pierre's Fave Newsletter or BlogStratechery by Ben Thompson


Aug 12, 2015

Fede Pirzio-Biroli is Founder @ Playfair Capital, a leading investor in seed level, technology based startups. Fede founded Playfair Capital from his first investment in December of 2010 and the portfolio quickly grew to 20 investments by the end of 2012, including the likes of DuedilAppearHere and On Device Research. During this period, Fede was an angel in residence at White Bear Yard. After working closely with Passion Capital, he built the Playfair Capital team and moved into Warner Yard, Playfair's current home. Prior to Playfair, he spent several years in Africa working for the UN, Oxfam and PharmaSecure, after which he lobbied government and large aid organisations to increase the transparency of aid flows.


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Fede made his move into angel investing and then transitioned to form his own fund?

2.) What is the mission at Playfair? What is the average ticket size? Does Playfair have any preferred sectors?

3.) What do startups need to have to get the Playfair stamp of approval? What are Playfair looking for?

4.) How has Fede seen the seed funding environment change in London?

5.) How does Fede and Playfair stave off competition for the 'hot' startups looking to raise VC money?

6.) What benefits do founders get for working in a co-working space? How important is it for VCs to offer this service?

7.) How does Fede create a united company culture in a co-working space with so many different companies?


Items Mentioned In Today's Episode:

Fede's Fave BookThe Circle by David Eggers

Fede Fave Newsletter or BlogDojoAngelList

Fede's Most Recent InvestmentKnytton (Techstars London W14)

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

Aug 10, 2015

Roxanne Varza is currently the startup lead for Microsoft in France, running both Microsoft Ventures Paris and Bizspark. Prior to Microsoft, Roxanne was Editor of TechCrunch France and has been a guest author for the likes of The Telegraph and Business Insider. Roxanne is also the Co-Founder of, one of the few publications to cover the European tech industry as a whole, with the brilliant Robin Wauters. If that wasn't enough Roxanne is also the Co-Founder of Girls In Tech both in Paris and London, which aims to raise the visibility of women in technology,entrepreneurship and innovation though monthly events, leadership programmes and much more. Roxanne has won a range of accolade including Top 30 Women Under 30 In TechCoolest 25 Women in Tech and 10 Women Shaking Up Tech In Their 30s

P.S. If you are looking for an amazing new podcast on the Tech Scene in Europe, check out's new show here: Podcast #4


In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Roxanne made her move into the tech industry and then made the move from TechCrunch to running Microsoft's Accelerator in Paris?
  • What would Roxanne recommend to people in tech contemplating moving countries?
  • What are the best and most effective ways to learn code from scratch?
  • What is the mission at Microsoft Ventures? What is the deal? What are the benefits?
  • In the 10 minute pitch to Roxanne, what does Microsoft want to hear?
  • How does Microsoft determine product-market fit?
  • What does the increase in US funds entering the European market suggest?
  • What are the benefits for startups of having global investors?
  • What can startups do to increase their media exposure in the sea of new startups?
  • What do journalists look for in emails from founders?
  • How can founders be successful through submitting guest posts?
  • What are the best and most effective ways to learn code from scratch?


Items Mentioned in Today's Show:

Roxanne's Fave Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Roxanne's Reading Material: Digg

Fred Wilson: Investing In Startups In Europe

Microsoft Ventures Alumni: Zocdoc: Find a DoctorXobni: Your Smarter Address Book Is Waiting

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

Aug 7, 2015

Nick Bortot is the Founder & CEO at Bux, Europe's largest mobile trading platform with an incredible 175,000 active users. In his former life he was one of the driving forces behind the Dutch market leader in online brokerage, BinckBank. There he held several commercial positions before he was elected member of the executive board. After having spent five years in the boardroom, Nick started dreaming about a new company that would make the financial markets both fun and exciting. This dream turned into BUX. Bud has attained many incredible mentions and awards including being named on the Fintech50 2015. You can also check out their first TV add right here!

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Nick made the move from broking to founding Bux?
  • What are the benefits of being a slightly older founder?
  • What Nick would recommend to anyone looking for a technical co-founder?
  • How to build a team of individuals with complimentary skills?
  • What are the drivers for the incredible growth to 175,000 users?
  • How is Nick planning to convert an audience of non trader to start trading?
  • What advice would Nick give founders entering into heavily regulated markets?
  • How Bux have built a great brand in a competitive market?
  • Having raised funds from Orange Growth Capital, what was surprising and challenging for Nick about raising angel and VC money?
  • What would Nick do differently if he was raising funds again?
  • Does Nick agree with the concept of building a 'war chest' of funds?

Items Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Nick's Fave Book: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic FutureSteve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Nick's Fave Newsletter or Blog: VICE News

Nick's Fave App: BRAINTOSS: Toss your thoughts straight into your inbox

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCNick and Bux on Twitter right here!

Aug 5, 2015

Mike Jones is the Founder and CEO at Science Inc. a disruptive media, marketing and commerce company that creates, invests, acquires and scales successful digital businesses. Their incredible portfolio includes the likes of Medium, DollarShaveClub and DogVacay and their leadership is responsible for an astonishing 12 acquisitions and over $1bn in exits. Prior to Science Inc, Mike was the CEO at Myspace, where he was responsible for the relaunch, one of the most high-profile turn-around challenges in the industry, before selling MySpace to SpecificMedia on behalf of NewsCorp. Mike is also an active early stage investor having personally invested in over 30 startup businesses including KloutBetterworksFormspringShoeDazzle to name a few.

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Mike began his entrepreneurial career, how MySpace came about then how Mike made the move to Science Inc?

2.) What is the mission at Science, what does Science provide and how do they differ from the likes of YC and Techstars?

3.) Science have a specific methodology to identify the best startups and the best sectors. What is involved in this methodology? Has it changed since the start of Science?

4.) What can a startup founder do or show you to impress you? Are there any real red flags for you when meeting startup founders? What are the commonalities of the great founders?

5.) What is Science's involvement with the companies, what are their key value adds at Science?

6.) On Twist Mike said ‘growth is the most important thing, without growth there is no money’? So what at Science how do they approach growth and what are the challenges posed by this need for growth?

Items Mentioned in Todays Episode:

Mike's Fave Book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do by Chris Duhigg

Mike's Fave News Source: FlipBoard


Aug 3, 2015

Arteen Arabshahi is a VC at Karlin Ventures, where he specialises in enterprise software, commerce platforms, and marketplaces. Prior to Karlin Ventures, Arteen spearheaded the launch of Built In LA, an online community for digital entrepreneurs and innovators. However, his passion for startups flourished while helping run operations at Excelerate Labs, now Techstars Chicago. In today's incredible interview we delve into the best strategies for contacting any VC you want, how to make the approach, how to deal with the emotional and psychological pressure of starting a company and the rise of marketplaces. When not with startups, Arteen sits on the board of TEDxVenice Beach and is a supporter of TWLOHA, a non-profit raising awareness and support for those struggling with mental health.

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VCArteen and Karlin Ventures on Twitter right here!

In Today's Episode You Will Learn:

  • How Arteen made the jump into the world of Venture Capital, from originally wanting to be a plastic surgeon!!
  • How did Arteen approach VCs when applying for positions?
  • What did Arteen say in those emails to achieve such a high response rate?
  • What tools did Arteen use to ensure he got the VCs real email address?
  • Does Arteen agree with the traditional routes into Venture: Startup Founder, Consultant, Investment Banking?
  • Why is Arteen so excited about marketplaces? Are there any in particular that Arteen is doubling down on?
  • How big a market does a market have to be to get Arteen excited?
  • What would Arteen advise founders potentially struggling from self doubt or lacking in confidence?
  • What mental health tools would Arteen recommend to help with this?
  • The biggest red flags for Arteen when being pitched to?

Items Mentioned in Today's Episode:


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