20 VC 067: Scaling Startups Into Unicorns with Atomico’s Mattias Ljungman and Carolina Brochado

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Mattias Ljungman 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 Truecaller, Klarna, Hailo, and ChemistDirect. Prior to launching Atomico, Mattias was the head of investments at CLS Holdings where he was responsible for the sale of Sit Up TV for $360 million in 2005.

 

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.

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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 Skim, Dan Primack: TermSheet

Atomics’s Most Used Productivity Tools: Wunderlist, Evernote, Pocket, SmartNews

Atomics’s Most Recent Investments: TrueCaller, GymPass

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

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

FF 010: Becoming Europe’s Hottest Startup with Carl Waldekranz, Co-Founder and CEO @ Tictail

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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 Balderton, Acton, Thrive and Creandum.

Before Tictail, Carl cofounded and sold a digital agency called Super Strikers where he as an Art Director helped develop the brand identity for companies such as Spotify, Wrapp and Bambuser together with co-founder Kaj Drobin. Carl also founded Keyflow, a mobile guest list app company.

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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 Harry, The Twenty Minute VC, Carl 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!

20 VC 066: FOUNDRY GROUP WEEK 1: Seth Levine

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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 www.sethlevine.com.

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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: Slack, VoxerDarkSky

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 Harry, The Twenty Minute VC, Seth 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!

20 VC 065: FOUNDRY GROUP WEEK 1: Brad Feld

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Brad Feld is one of the world’s leading VCs having Co-Founded Foundry Group, Brad has made investments in the likes of Zynga, Makerbot 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 Thoughts, Startup Revolution, and Ask the VC.

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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 Blog, Dan Primack: TermSheet, MatterMark Daily

Brad’s Most Recent Investments: GlowForge: The 3D Laser Printer, Sphero

As always you can follow Harry, The Twenty Minute VC, Brad and Foundry Group on Twitter here!

FF 009: How To Leverage Your Connections To Grow Your Business with Sarah Schupp, Founder & CEO @ University Parent

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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.

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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 Harry, The Twenty Minute VC and Sarah on Twitter here!

20 VC 064: Finding Exceptional People with Big Ideas with Nick Beim, Partner @ Venrock

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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 www.nickbeim.com. Nick led the initial venture investments in a number of pioneering consumer internet companies including the Gilt Groupe, and Care.com (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.

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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

20 VC 063: What It Takes To Standout In A Crowded Market with Ezra Galston @ Chicago Ventures

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Ezra Galston is a VC @ Chicago Ventures, where he focuses on consumer facing and marketing tech investments and is actively involved with Blitsy, BloomNation, Kapow Events, Luxury Garage Sale, Shiftgig, SpotHero, and Zipments. Ezra’s thoughts on startups, have been published in the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, VentureBeat 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 www.breakingvc.com.

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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, Carpool.vc

Ezra’s Fave Productivity Tools: Rapportive, Bitmoji

Ezra’s Most Recent Investment: Luxury Garage Sale, Attendant

Bill Gurley: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces

HungryRoot: Charlie O’Donnell, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures

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

FF 08: Pierre Valade, CEO @ Sunrise on Being Acquired By Microsoft for $100m and Building Beautiful Products

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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.

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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 Book: Zero To One: Peter Thiel

Pierre Most Impactful Purchase: iPhone 6

Pierre’s Fave Newsletter or Blog: Stratechery by Ben Thompson

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

20VC 062: Shaking Up London’s VC Industry with Fede Pirzio-Biroli, Founder @ Playfair Capital

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 Duedil, AppearHere 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.

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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 Book: The Circle by David Eggers

Fede Fave Newsletter or Blog: Dojo, AngelList

Fede’s Most Recent Investment: Knytton (Techstars London W14)

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

20 VC 061: Roxanne Varza on Successfully Pitching VCs in 10 Minutes

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 Tech.eu, 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 Tech, Coolest 25 Women in Tech and 10 Women Shaking Up Tech In Their 30s.

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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 can be done to unite the Euopean tech communities together?
  • 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?
  • How can founders be successful through submitting guest posts?

 

Items Mentioned in Today’s Show:

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

Roxanne’s Reading Material: News.me + Digg

Fred Wilson: Investing In Startups In Europe

Microsoft Ventures Alumni: Zocdoc: Find a Doctor, Xobni: Your Smarter Address Book Is Waiting

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

Founders Friday 007: Founding Europe’s Largest Mobile Trading App with Nick Bortot, Founder @ Bux

Nick Bortot

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!

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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 Future, Steve 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 Harry, The Twenty Minute VC, Nick and Bux on Twitter right here!

20 VC 060: 12 Acquisitions, $1bn In Exits, Mike Jones, Former MySpace CEO on Life At Science Inc

Mike Jones

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 Klout, Betterworks, Formspring, ShoeDazzle to name a few.

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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 your key value adds at Science?

6.) On Twist Mike stated ‘growth is the most important thing, without growth there is no money’? What is Science’s strategy towards growth and what are the challenges posed by this need for growth?

Items Mentioned in Todays Episode:

Mike’s Fave Book: The Power of Habbit, Why We Do What We Do by Chris Duhigg

Mike’s Fave News Source: FlipBoard

 

20 VC 059: How To Approach VCs with Arteen Arabshahi, VC @ Karlin Ventures

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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 Harry, The Twenty Minute VC, Arteen and Karlin Ventures on Twitter right here!

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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: