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
Posted on 9th December 2019 by Harry
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.
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?