20VC: Unusual Ventures’ John Vrionis on Why We Need To Raise The Bar In Venture, Why Taking Multi-Stage Money At Seed Is Not In The Best Interest of Founders & Why To Be The Best, You Have To Specialise To Be The Best

John Vrionis Headshot

John Vrionis is the Founder and Managing Partner @ Unusual Ventures, the firm that is redefining seed investing and raising the bar for what entrepreneurs should expect from a seed investment firm. Prior to founding Unusual, John spent 11 years as a Partner @ Lightspeed where his investments included Mulesoft, AppDynamics, Nimble Storage and Heptio to name a few. Before Lightspeed John spent time in product management and sales @ Determina and Freedom Financial Network.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How did John make his way into the world of venture and come to be a Partner @ Lightspeed? How did that lead to his founding Unusual? How did his father’s MS diagnosis change his mentality towards both investing and how he views the world? What were John’s biggest takeaways from his 12 years with the Lightspeed partnership?

2.) Where does John feel the bar needs to be raised in venture? What does the current product not offer? What do seed-stage founders fundamentally need? How have Unusual structured the firm to provide this? How was the fundraise for John? What does John know post-closing that he wishes he had known at the beginning? What advice would John give to aspiring emerging managers? Why is LP diversity so important to John?

3.) Why does John believe taking multi-stage money at seed is not in the best interests of the founder? How does John explain this logically to founders? Does John agree with Semil Shah, “founders are voting with their feet and choosing multi-stage funds”? Why does John believe to be truly best in class, you have to specialise? Does this not go against the data of Benchmark, Sequoia, Founders Fund, all generalist funds, having the best returns?

4.) How does John think about being company vs being founder first? What does one do when alignment erodes between the interest of the firm and the interest of the founder? How does John look to build a relationship of trust and honesty with his founders? What works? What does not work? How does John feel about VCs being friends with their founders?

5.) What is the most challenging element of John’s role today with Unusual? Who is the best board member John has ever sat on a board with? Why and what did he learn? What would John most like to change about the world of venture today? What would he like to remain the same?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

John’s Fave Book: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKEGive and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

John’s Most Recent Investment: Shujinko

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

20VC: Why Raising A Mega-Round Makes Your Life Harder Not Easier, Why Your Board Is Not Your Boss and Lessons on Successful Board Management & The Biggest Breakpoints in Company Scaling with Emmanuel Schalit, Founder & CEO @ Dashlane

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Emmanuel Schalit is the Founder & CEO @ Dashlane, the company that provides your all-in-one internet shortcut for passwords, payments and personal info. To date, Emmanuel has raised over $192m in funding for Dashlane from some of the best in the business including Jim Goetz @ Sequoia Capital, Rick @ Firstmark, Alex @ Bessemer and Habib @ Rho, just to name a few. As for Emmanuel, prior to founding Dashlane, he was the CEO @ CBS Outdoor in France and before that COO @ La Martiniere Group.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Emmanuel made his way from CEO of 5,000+ people companies to founding Dashlane and changing the world of passwords and identification? How does Emmanuel asses his own risk profile moving from CEO of a large company to starting Dashlane?

2.) Is Emmanuel concerned by the excess capital available today? Why does Emmanuel believe that raising a mega-round makes your life as a founder harder, not easier? What specifically becomes harder? How does Emmanuel advise founders when it comes to burn and capital efficiency? How does Emmanuel think about when is the right time to pour fuel on the fire?

3.) Where does Emmanuel think that VCs do tangibly add real value? Where does Emmanuel believe that despite what some think, VCs do not add value in certain areas? What have been Emmanuel’s biggest lessons of operating and managing a VC board? What does he advise founders starting out on this learning curve?

4.) What does Emmanuel believe are the core challenges of scale? What breaks at what specific points? How has Emmanuel seen himself scale in his role as CEO? What have been the most challenging element to scale into? How did Emmanuel get through them and what does he do to mitigate them now?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

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

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

20VC: BoxGroup’s David Tisch on Whether Concentrated Investing At Seed Works, Do Founders Really Want Direct Feedback and Is It Good For Them & Why Consumer Social Is Interesting Again

David Tisch Headshot

David Tisch is the Founder & Managing Partner @ BoxGroup, one of the leading early-stage firms in NYC with a portfolio that includes the likes of Flexport, RigUp, Ro, Glossier, Clearbit, PillPack and Plaid, to name a few. Recently they raised their first external capital with 2 separate vehicles totalling over $160m. David is also Professor and Head of Startup Studio @ Cornell Tech. Prior to Box Group, he was Managing Director of Techstars NYC and before that was an Executive Vice President @ KGB.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How David made his way into the world of early-stage investing? How he made the transition from prolific angel investor to raising $160m+ in external capital? Why did David feel now was the right time to raise external funding after 10 years of self-funding? How has taking on external capital changed his investing mindset?

2.) Many suggest that “concentrated seed investing does not work”, how does David think about and assess portfolio construction? May others also suggest that, “seed investors are not company builders”, does David agree with that? Does David believe investors can change the trajectory of a company? Where can they help the most? Where do many think they help but they actually do not?

3.) Why does David believe that founders do not speak openly about bad experiences with VCs? What have been David’s biggest lessons on the right way to turn down an opportunity? Do founders really want direct and honest feedback? Is it actually damaging to give it to them? Why? How does David approach this?

4.) Why does David believe “consumer social is interesting again”? Why was it not interesting for a while? How does that mean David is approaching the category? What does David mean when he says, “for the first time ever there is no channel to arbitrage on the internet”? Is David concerned by the state of CACs today? How much attention does David pay to CAC/LTV in the early days? What are the key signals?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

David’s Fave TV Show: Survivor

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