20VC: First Round’s Phin Barnes on How The Best Founders Optimize for Learning Per Dollar Spent, What Makes A Truly Special Founder/VC Relationship and Why Pattern Recognition is Another Term For Intellectual Laziness

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Phin Barnes is a Partner @ First Round Capital, one of the most prestigious and successful early-stage funds of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Uber, Square, Warby Parker, HotelTonight, GOAT, PatientPing, Atrium and more incredible companies. As for Phin, in his own words, he learned the business of startups helping grow AND1 from $15M to $225M in revenue as Creative Director for Footwear, and started his own fitness video-game company, producing Yourself!Fitness, the first game of its kind for Xbox and PlayStation 2 where he built partnerships with the likes of Procter & Gamble and McDonald’s. Phin also writes the most fantastic blog, sneakerheadVC, that really is a must read.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Phin came to be a Partner @ First Round by working for free, with no plans to be a Partner?

2.) What were Phin’s biggest lessons from learning from and observing Josh Kopelman? How does Phin define true success as a VC today? Why is the model of determining success according to returns fundamentally flawed? How does Phin approach the need for VCs to be both curious and competitive? What is the nuance there?

3.) Why does Phin believe that the commonly discussed “pattern recognition” is another term for intellectual laziness? What does Phin do to prevent his forming assumptions on the founders he meets? Why does Phin fundamentally disagree with the common VC habit of looking for weaknesses in founders?

4.) Does Phin agree that we have an oversupply of capital in market today? How does Phin determine when a stretch on price is a stretch too far? Why does Phin think that more emphasis should be placed on the business model that VCs have? What does Phin mean when he says that he is on the “sell side”?

5.) What does Phin mean when he says that “VCs should focus on a founders ability to optimise for learning per dollar spent”? Is cash ever a defensible moat in it’s own right? What does Phin believe is the right way for founders to use capital as a weapon?

6.) How does Phin and First Round think about the right way to allocate reserves effectively? What does that look like in reality? What does the decision-making process look like on re-investments? Why does Phin believe that the framework of “pro-rata is largely lazy?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Phin’s Fave Book: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer WithinBoyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Phin’s Most Recent Investment: Ubiquity6

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

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

 

20VC: 7 Key Themes To Building A Great Company To IPO, The Right Way To Assess Market Timing & How To Balance Between Speed and Inspection When It Comes To Decision-Making with Patrick Morley, CEO @ Carbon Black

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Patrick Morley is the President and CEO @ Carbon Black, the company that combines unfiltered data collection, predictive analytics, and cloud-based delivery to provide superior endpoint protection. Prior to their IPO in April 2018, Carbon Black had raised over $150m in VC funding from the likes of Sequoia Capital, Accomplice, Kleiner Perkins and Highland Venture Partners just to name a few. As for Patrick, under his leadership, he has taken Carbon Black from startup to market leader with over 800 employees. Before Carbon Black, he was CEO of Imprivata Corporation and held senior leadership positions with six venture-backed software companies, including three that had successful IPOs.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Patrick made his way into the world of startups and came to be CEO @ Carbon Black where he turned a startup into a public company and market leader with 800 employees?

2.) Patrick has previously said “there are 7 key themes to building a great company”, what are those themes? From taking 4 companies public what are the patterns in building a business the right way? How does Patrick look to create a culture of accountability but also with a risk-taking mentality? How does one retain startup culture with scale?

3.) How does Patrick view his role as CEO today? What 3 characteristics do all great CEOs need to embody and then act on? Would Patrick agree that some people are destined for certain stages of a company’s life? How does Patrick determine between a stretch and a stretch too far in a VP? What does that subsequent communication look like?

4.) Mike Dauber @ Amplify previously said on the show “timing kills more startups than dollars”, would Patrick agree with this? How does he view market timing? What advice would Patrick give to founders who are 3-4 years ahead in market? What are the challenges? What are the right ways to communicate the path to timing it right?

5.) Why did Patrick choose this year to take Carbon Black public? What are the fundamental pros and cons of being a public company today? How does Patrick assess the role that VCs played in the building of Carbon Black to IPO? What must investors always remember in their interactions with founders? What must founders be cognizant of when selecting their investors and board members?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Patrick’s Fave Book: Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

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.

20VC: Learnings From Backing The Likes of Spotify and Airbnb, The World of Growth Investing Today and The Right Way For Investors To Think About Liquidity with Woody Marshall, General Partner @ TCV

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Woody Marshall is a General Partner @ TCV, one of the most successful growth funds of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Facebook, AirBnB, Spotify, LinkedIn and many more incredible companies. Woody joined TCV in 2008 and has since led investments in Spotify, Netflix, AirBnB, Peloton, Groupon and the list goes on. Due to this phenomenal success, Woody has been named numerous times to the Midas List by Forbes as one of the industry’s top technology investors. Prior to joining TCV, Woody spent 12 years at Trident Capital, where he focused on the payments, internet, and mobile markets.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Woody made his way into the world of VC over 23 years ago and came to invest in products of a generation such as AirBnb, Spotify and Netflix?

2.) What have been the foundational changes Woody has seen over his last 23 years in venture? How did witnessing the boom and bust affect his operating and investing mentality? How does Woody approach price sensitivity? When is stretching on price a stretch too far?

3.) How does Woody analyse and assess the extended period of privatisation for companies today? How does the mega raises of funds from Softbank, Sequoia, GC, Lightspeed etc change the competitive landscape for Woody? Is there a surplus of capital in market today? Why does Woody believe the pie is larger than it has ever been?

4.) Does Woody agree that the dominant role of CEO is management upscaling? From Woody’s portfolio, on hearing this, who is the first CEO that comes to mind and what is the story behind it? What are the mistakes that CEOs tend to make most often when scaling into hypergrowth? What are the 2-3 things that all companies need to focus on when product market fit is apparent and they need to scale?

5.) Woody has spent over 3,500 hours in the board seat, how has he seen himself evolve and develop over time as a board member? What were the biggest learning curves and points of development for Woody? How do the best founders manage and operate their board? Who exemplifies this best from recent memory? What do they do?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Woody’s Fave Book: The Boys in the Boat

Woody’s Most Recent Investment: Peloton

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

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

20VC: Why Entrepreneurs Should Let Everyone Rip Apart Their Business Idea, How To Construct Frameworks for Success & Why You Should Not Always Test Your MVP with Afton Vechery, Founder & CEO @ Modern Fertility

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Afton Vechery is the Co-Founder & CEO @ Modern Fertility, the startup that guides you through your fertility hormones now so you have options later. To date they have raised over 7m in funding from some of the leading players in venture including USV, First Round Capital, Maveron, SV Angel and Y Combinator. As for Afton, prior to Modern Fertility, Afton was a Product Manager @ 23andMe where she was the sole product manager responsible for all consumer-facing genetic tools.Before 23andMe, Afton was a Strategy and Finance Consultant @ Willow Pump where she participated in fundraising that led to successful $15M fundraise.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Afton made her way into the world of startups with 23andMe and then came to change the way we think about fertility with Modern Fertility?

2.) Afton has previously emphasised the importance of having “frameworks for success”. What does that mean? How do those frameworks break down? How does Afton think about the decision-making process around prioritisation? How does Afton think about the difference between being customer informed and customer driven?

3.) Why does Afton believe that there are times when you should not test the MVP? Why is this? What would Afton do differently in the MVP process if she had her time again? How does Afton think about and respond to the statement “move fast and break things”?

4.) Why does Afton believe it is important to let everyone “rip apart your business”? What are the fundamental benefits of this? From the ripping aparts, Afton has experienced, what have been the biggest takeaways? What was their argument? How did Afton respond? How did her thinking and mentality change as a result?

5.) Why does Phin Barnes @ First Round say Afton is “hard as nails”?  What were some of Afton’s biggest learnings from her early engineering role? How does Afton think about entrepreneurial resilience today? What advice does Afton give to emerging entrepreneurs and first-time founders?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Afton’s Fave Book: Motherhood Rescheduled

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

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

20VC: USV’s Rebecca Kaden on Whether Venture Returns Can Be Made At Scale In Consumer Today, How To Navigate Consumer Investing In A World of Amazon

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Rebecca Kaden is a General Partner @ Union Square Ventures, one of the most successful funds of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Twitter, Twilio, Zynga, Soundcloud, Tumblr, Lending Club and many more. As for Rebecca, prior to USV, Rebecca was a General Partner @ Maveron, a consumer-only seed and series A fund where she invested in the likes of Allbirds, Dia & Co, Periscope, Earnest and Eargo just to name a few. Before Maveron, Rebecca took the route of many great VCs and was a journalist, working as Special Projects Editor @ Narrative Magazine.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Rebecca made her way into the world of VC from journalism? How her journey with Maveron led to her becoming a General Partner with the prestigious USV?

2.) Having mastered the craft of VC in the world of consumer, how does Rebecca respond to Peter Fenton and Jeremy Levine’s statement, “we are in a consumer downturn”? How does Rebecca think about the lack of free and open distribution today? How can startups compete with incumbents for cost-efficient customer acquisition?

3.) How does Rebecca evaluate the role of Amazon today? How does Rebecca look to get comfortable that Amazon is not moving into the space of a portfolio company? Does Rebecca agree, “if you are not a top 3 priority”, you have a couple of years on them? How can startups learn from the execution advantage shown by Amazon over the last decade?

4.) With several recent consumer acquisitions under $200m, does Rebecca still believe that venture returns can be made at scale in consumer? How does Rebecca analyse how to think about multiple on revenue when evaluating consumer companies? Why Does Rebecca believe we are in a moment of fragmentation, not consolidation?

5.) How does Rebecca compare the partnerships of US and Maveron having been a GP now at both firms? What are the similarities? What are the differences? What does Rebecca believe are the core advantages of small partnerships and controlled fund sizes? How does the addition of the thesis-driven investing style effect Rebecca’s thinking?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Rebecca’s Fave Book: Pale Fire 

Rebecca’s Most Recent Investment: Modern Fertility

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

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