20VC: Matrix’s Ilya Sukhar on How The Seed Ecosystem Could Be Optimised, Why The Bar For The Break-Out Series A Has Risen & The Art of Effective Referencing
Posted on 9th September 2019 by Harry
Ilya Sukhar is a General Partner @ Matrix Partners, the firm steeped in 40 years of history with over $4Bn invested enjoying 110 acquisitions and 65 IPOs. As for Ilya, at Matrix he has led deals in the likes of FiveTran, Flock Safety, Slab and Height just to name a few. Prior to Matrix, Ilya was a part-time investing partner @ Y Combinator and before that was Head of Developer Products at Facebook. His time at Facebook came about as a result of his former company, Parse, being acquired by them for close to $100m in April 2013. If that was not enough, Ilya also has one of the best angel tracks in the business with a portfolio including the likes of former guest Scale, Checkr, Algolia, Airtable, Gitlab the list goes on.
1.) How Ilya made his way into the world of technology and startups having moved to SF from the Soviet Union? How did his growing up in the Soviet Union and moving to the US shape his thinking, operating and investing mentality today?
2.) How did Ilya’s mindset change with the shift from angel investing to institutional investing? How does Ilya assess how his operating experience has impacted the way he works and engages with founders today? What are the pros? What are the cons? Why does Ilya believe the engineering CEO is so crucial?
3.) How does Ilya feel the seed ecosystem is serving startups today? What are the core ways that Ilya believes it is not optimised? How does Ila think about advising founders on the right amount to raise and the appropriate amount of runway? How does Ilya feel on the subject of bridge rounds? How does Ilya approach price and price sensitivity? What have been his learnings on price from observing his angel portfolio?
4.) Why does Ilya believe that “referencing is one of the most important skills for founders and investors”? How should founders structure their referencing? Who should they speak to? How many people is an appropriate dataset? What are the core questions to ask? How can references lead one astray? What must you watch out for?
5.) How has becoming a father changed Ilya’s investing mentality today? How has it affected how he selects the projects he wishes to work on? How has it changed his relationship to time and productivity? Why in many ways does Ilya wish he had had kids earlier?