20VC: The 2 Core Roles Played By The Best Seed Investors Today, What To Look For In Potential Co-Investors & Why Seed Funds Can Grow Ownership in Their Best Companies Across Rounds with Ron Bouganim, Founder @ Govtech Fund

IMG_8098

Ron Bouganim is the Founding Partner @ The Govtech Fund, the first-ever venture capital fund dedicated to government technology startups. To date, he has backed some incredible category leaders including mark43, Neighbourly, MindMixer and SeamlessDocs just to name a few. Prior to the Govtech Fund, he was Accelerator Director @ Code for America and was an active angel investor and advisor working with more than twenty startups including ShareThrough, HelloSign, PagerDuty, and Close.io.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Ron made his way into the world of technology and startups and became angel investing? How that led to the founding of Govtech Fund and the belief in the space today?

2.) There is the notion that there many challenges to investing in Govtech and scaling companies in the space, how does Ron respond to the suggestion the sales cycles when selling to government are too long for startups to navigate successfully? How does Ron respond to the suggestion that the growth rates in the space are to low for venture returns? How does Ron respond to the suggestion that founders in the space are inherently older as only they have experienced the problems of government tech?

3.) Why does Ron believe that a vertically focused fund is the right strategy is creating a massively outperforming fund? How does Ron respond to the possibility of missing moonshots in alternate categories? What does Ron most look for in the co-investors that he invests with? What do they bring to the table?

4.) What does Ron believe are the 2 fundamental roles of a seed investor today? How does that differ from previous generations of seed funds? Why does Ron believe that fundraising and hiring help is now merely table stakes? What else can seed investors do to meaningfully move the needle for their portfolio?

5.) Why does Ron advocate for a highly concentrated portfolio? How does Ron respond to LP concerns around a lack of diversification? Does Ron believe that you can grow ownership of your best companies over subsequent rounds? What is the sign of success for Ron when the founder comes back for re-financing?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Ron’s Fave Book: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Ron’s Most Recent Investment: Sema: Automated Code Maintenance

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

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

20VC: Phil Libin on Why The Concept of A Silicon Valley Style Startup Is Made To Benefit VCs, Why The Very Structure of Companies Is Outdated and Inefficient & What It Means To Build The Netflix of Product

IMG_7982

Phil Libin is the Co-Founder & CEO @ All Turtles, the startup that believes they have a better way to make technology products, placing products first and companies later. Today they are building AI products in San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo. As for Phil, prior to All Turtles he was a Managing Director @ General Catalyst. Before that he spent 23 years founding different companies including founding Evernote, taking it from idea generation to productivity powerhouse raising over $160m in VC funding in the process, from some of the very best including Sequoia Capital. Phil is also an extremely successful angel with a portfolio including Gusto, TellApart and Binary Thumb just to name a few.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Phil made his way into the world of tech startups many years ago, how that led to his entering VC with General Catalyst and to now, founding All Turtles?

2.) How does Phil assess the state of Silicon Valley today? Why does Phil believe that Silicon Valley has been becoming increasingly redundant over the last 20 years? Why does Phil argue that the VC Silicon Valley model has been primarily effective at serving it’s own needs? What needs to occur for this to change?

3.) Why does Phil argue that the balance of power between startups and incumbents is shifting for 5 core reasons? Why does Phil believe that the data incumbency argument with AI startups is largely overstated and a fear tactic? How does Phil believe people’s attitude toward working for incumbents has been shifting over the last few years?

4.) Why does Phil believe that the concept of a “company” is fundamentally outdated? What is so broken about this model? What does Phil believe will be the model of the future for the world’s best product creators? Why does the idea of a generalist VC in this model largely not make logical sense to Phil? What does Phil believe the future of VC is?

5.) Why does Phil believe that his time in VC has made him a better CEO than even his time in operations? What have been his core learnings? How has his operating mindset fundamentally shifted? Why does Phil argue the core role of the CEO is not management upscaling? Why does Phil argue it is wrong to assume the only mindset is growth?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Phil’s Fave Book: Clock of The Long Now

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

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

20VC: Scalar Capital’s Linda Xjie on Who Will Win The Smart Contract War, The Future of Exchanges: Centralised or Decentralised & The Pros and Cons of Differing Privacy Coins

IMG_7978

Linda Xie is a Co-Founder & Managing Director @ Scalar Capital, one of the leading crypto asset funds to have been born over the last few years with Linda becoming one of the most prominent figures in the space. Prior to co-founding Scalar, Linda was a product manager at Coinbase where she worked with regulators and law enforcement. Before Coinbase, she was a portfolio risk analyst at AIG. If that was not enough, Linda is also an advisor to 0x, the critical infrastructure layer in the emerging financial stack built on a foundation of Ethereum token standards.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Linda made her move into the world of crypto joining Coinbase back in 2014 and how that led to her founding of Scalar? What were her biggest takeaways from seeing the first-hand scaling of Coinbase?

2.) What is a privacy coin and why does it matter? What are some of the dominant legitimate uses for privacy coins? From ZCash to Monero to Dash, there are many players in the space, what are some of the core benefits and tradeoffs of each platform? What is the fundamental problem with privacy coins today?

3.) What is a decentralised exchange, why does Linda believe it is inherently important? How does Linda assess the current exchange environment today? Where does she see it moving over the coming years? What have been some of Linda’s biggest learnings advising 0x?  Given the mission and ethos of crypto, does Linda believe that centralised exchanges fundamentally go against the core ethos of the space?

4.) How does Linda perceive the state of ethereum today? What are some of the core challenges facing ethereum today? How does ethereum compare to alternative smart contract platforms? What is their differentiation? Will we see a winner take all/most market within smart contract platforms? Will we see smart contract platforms be regionally fragmented?

5.) How does Linda address the fundamental challenge of valuing tokens today? What has been her preferred model in doing this to date? How does Linda assess the mega raises we have seen over the last year? How does Linda think about preventing projects from raising huge rounds just to stay in step with the mega raises of their competitors?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Linda’s Fave Book: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Linda’s Most Recent Investment: Kadena

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

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

20VC: Why Too Many People Give Up Too Quickly, Why You Should Never Start A Venture Without Owning The Underlying Data & Why We Have Over-Estimated The Ability of Automation with Dennis Mortensen, Founder & CEO @ X.ai

IMG_7902

Dennis Mortensen is the Founder & CEO @ X.ai, the startup that realises scheduling sucks and provides ridiculously efficient AI software that solves the hassle of meeting scheduling. To date, Dennis has raised over $44m in VC funding from the likes of Firstmark, IA Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, DCM and more fantastic names. As for Dennis, he is an expert in leveraging data to solve enterprise use cases and prior to X.ai he was the Founder & CEO of 3 companies, 2 of which were acquired and one which went bust or as he describes a rather expensive MBA. Dennis is also the author of Data Driven Insights, on collecting and analyzing digital data.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Dennis made his way from Copenhagen to New York, the world of startups and came to found one of the hottest AI companies of our day in X.ai?

2.) What were Dennis’ biggest lessons from enjoying 3 successful exits prior to X.ai? What were Dennis’ learnings from his one failed startup? What would he do differently if he were to start another company? How does Dennis navigate the balance of between pursuing a vision and miss vs when something is just not working?

3.) Does Dennis believe that there really is such a thing as an AI first company? What is the right mentality to approach a company solving a problem through AI with? How does Dennis view the standardisation of AI tools today (Tensor Flow, libraries etc etc)? Does this remove barriers and defensibility for AI companies? What is the key to success for all AI companies?

4.) What does a truly differentiated data acquisition strategy look like? How can one determine the different utility value between different sizes of data? At what point does Dennis believe utility value of data diminishes due to the sheer size of existing data?

5.) Does Dennis believe that conversational UI is truly a paradigm shift in the way we interact with our devices or an iterative improvement? What have been some of the biggest lessons for Dennis in designing conversational UI products? What have been some of the fundamental challenges?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Dennis’ Fave Book: The Narrow Road: A Brief Guide to the Getting of MoneyShoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth

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

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

 

 

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

IMG_7864

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.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

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

IMG_7815

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.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

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

IMG_7751

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.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

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

IMG_7752

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.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

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

IMG_7491

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.

CLICK TO PLAY

CLICK TO LISTEN ON ITUNES

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.