Jason Shuman (Primary Ventures) – Payback Period, Market Timing, and The Importance of Distribution

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Jason Shuman is a Principal at Primary Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm responsible for backing NYC’s most promising founders. Some of their investments include Ticketfly, Jet, Deliveroo, and Package Free.

Jason has been working in New York as a VC for the past four years.  In college, Jason launched a direct-to-consumer footwear company that sold hand-sewn boat shoes and driving moccasins. He later went on to work at New York-based seed fund Corigin Ventures, where he invested in several companies including Latch, Loftsmart and Morty.

Thank you Sumeet Shah for the intro.

One book that inspired Jason personally is Attached by Amir Levine. One book that inspired Jason professionally is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

If you’d like to keep up to date with Jason, you can follow him on Twitter @boatshuman. To follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow @mikegelb and @consumervc.

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. What attracted him to start his own footwear company and become an entrepreneur? What were some of the learnings from that experience? How does he think about market timing? What attracted him to switch from being a founder to venture capital and working on the other side of the table? What makes seed investing as a stage so interesting to him? What attracted him to consumer?
  2. What are his own KPIs for founders that are looking to fundraise a seed round? What are some qualities in founders that you look for? What is his own due diligence process? What metrics does he focus on and how has his evaluation changed the past few years What should the diligence process be for an early hire? How does he think about growth – organic vs. paid. Why does Primary Ventures only invest in New York Companies? What is some advice for founders that live in secondary and tertiary markets? What are changes in consumer behavior or consumer trends that he is most excited and focused on and looking at investment opportunities? What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital?
  3. What is one company that he had the opportunity to invest in, didn’t, and in retrospect wish he did? What is one piece of advice that he has for founders of consumer companies?

Kate Boyle (Banjo Robinson) – Expanding Into Different Countries, Her Unfair Advantage, and Storytelling

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Kate Boyle is the founder and CEO of Banjo Robinson. Banjo Robinson is a magical cat that writes personalised letters which turn reading, writing and learning about the world into a magical game for 5-8 year olds. Banjo Robinson graduated London Techstars Accelerator fall 2019 and recently raised a pre-seed round led by Collaborative Fund and Sesame Ventures. Previously, Kate worked at William Morris and in screenwriting and script development.

Thank you Eamonn Carey for the introduction!

You can follow Banjo on his journey @banjo_robinson_. To follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow @mikegelb and @consumervc.

A book that inspired Kate personally and professionally, is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. A book that also inspired her professionally is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. Why Kate founded Banjo Robinson? What makes her uniquely qualified and her super powers? What are her areas of weakness and how does she think about hiring? A glimpse of being in the Techstars accelerator. How did she approach the fundraising process? 
  2. What was your due diligence process when evaluating venture capital firms? How did she think about expanding Banjo Robinson geographically? What were some of the initial target markets and what is the customer acquisition strategy?
  3. What is one piece of advice that she has for other founders?

Gautam Gupta (M13) – The Thin Line Between Success and Failure, Board Construction, and Why He Offers Learnings, Not Advice

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Gautam Gupta is a Partner at M13 and founded and previously was the CEO of Naturebox

M13 is a venture fund headquartered in Los Angeles that has invested in some of the most innovative consumer companies like Pinterst, SnapChat, Lyft, Bird, and Ring.

Naturebox, a subscription online delivery service that home-delivers all-natural snack foods. Before that, he started his career as an early stage investor at General Catalyst when he was just 18.

If you would like to keep up to date on Gautam, you can follow him @gramblings.To follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow @mikegelb and @consumervc.

A book that inspired Gautam professionally is The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike. A book that inspired Gautam personally is Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. When did he know that he wanted to be an entrepreneur? What got him into Venture Capital? What made you want to leave venture capital to found NatureBox?
  2. I think you’re the first guest I’ve had on this show that started his or her career in VC, then became a founder/CEO then came back to VC. The learnings and takeaways when he founded his own company that impacted him as an investor? Why he decided to join M13? What’s his advice for founders that live in secondary and tertiary markets that are outside LA, SF and NYC? How should founders think about board construction for their companies? What are changes in consumer behavior that he is focused on? What’s one thing he would change when it came to venture capital?
  3. What is his most recent investment and what makes him excited about it? One company that he had the opportunity to invest in, didn’t and in retrospect wish he did?
  4. What is one learning that was impactful and could be helpful for founders of venture backable B2C consumer companies?

Tim Katt (TACK Ventures) – How Tech is Disrupting Sports, Media and Advice for Founders in Secondary Markets

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Tim Katt is the managing partner and co-founder of TACK Ventures, TACK Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm based in Brooklyn and focused on investing in game-changers across sports, media, lifestyle and entertainment. Some of their investments include Overtime, ShotTracker, Roam, Greenfly and Grasshopper Bank.

Tim also Co-Founded the Global Sports Venture Studio (“GSVS”) with R/GA Ventures and the Los Angeles Dodgers. As Managing Director of the GSVS, Tim advised executives at leading organizations in the sports industry including adidas, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Fox Sports, Levy Restaurants, MLB, MLS, the NHL, Octagon and UEFA, on corporate innovation and venture investment.

One book that inspired Tim personally and professionally is Principles by Ray Dalio.

Tim also recently started a podcast called The Game Plan, where he and Jay Kapoor interview current and former professional athletes about theoretically business interests off the field. If you’d like to keep tabs on Tim, you can follow him on Twitter @tim_katt. To follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow @mikegelb and @consumervc.

Thank you Jay Kapoor for introducing me to Tim.

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. What attracted Tim to venture capital from a career in media? The uniqueness of TACK and typical check size? What makes New York unique? The Rise of Venture Capital in Sport. Tim’s diligence process. How he thinks about the landscape of the media industry changing from advertising model to a subscription model? How he’s thinking about media and ecommerce converging?
  2. Qualities he likes to see in founders during your evaluation process? For consumer companies, how do you know when you’ve found product-market fit? Consumer trends Tim’s focused on. How he thinks about investing in today’s landscape with the abundance of capital that is currently in the ecosystem? What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital?
  3. What’s one company that he had the opportunity to invest in, didn’t, and in retrospect wish he did? What is his most recent (announced) investment and why are he excited about it? What is one piece of advice for founders of consumer companies?

Sophie Bakalar (fable & Collaborative Fund) – What is Market Expertise?, Conscious Consumerism, and How She Sensed An Opportunity

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Sophie Bakalar is the founder of Fable, an e-commerce pet store help pets (and their humans) lead healthier, happier lives through better design. She is also a Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund, a seed stage fund that focuses on the growth of the creative class and the concept of collaborative consumption. Some of their investments include Reddit, Impossible Foods, Tala, Lyft, and Kickstarter. 

Previously, Sophie a credit trader in a hedge fund and started a B2B and founded digit charts, a company specializing in image processing software for charts, which was acquired in 2016.

You can follow Sophie @sophiebakalar. If you’d like to follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow me @mikegelb and @consumervc

A book that impacted her personally is The Overstory by Richard Powers. A book that impacted her professionally is Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

  1. What attracted her to startups and venture capital? What were some of her learnings as the founder of di8it chart that transferred and influenced on the other side of the table as a venture capitalist? What attracted her to Collaborative fund and early stage investing? What excites her about consumer investing? What Consumer insights is she most focused on? How does she think about the future of retail?
  2. When she was full time at Collaborative fund, what are some qualities that she liked to see from founders? What are consumer trends that she focused on in today’s landscape? How does she think about D2C brands in the current era with online acquisition costs continuing to rise since there is so much competition for SEM and Facebook ads? 
  3. What led her to founding Fable? What is something that she would change when it came to venture capital? What is one piece of advice that you have for founders of consumer companies?

Sumeet Shah (Swiftarc Ventures) – 4th Generation of Retail, Periscope Founders and What is Wrong in VC

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Sumeet Shah is the Portfolio Support Associate at Swiftarc Ventures. Swiftarc Ventures is an early- and growth-stage venture capital firm mainly focused on North America-based consumer brands making major economic and social disruptions.

Prior to Swiftrc, Sumeet was a Principal at Brand Foundry Ventures and has coached hundreds of founders on their investor decks and fundraising strategies. I had so much chatting with Sumeet as we discuss the 4th generation of retail, what is wrong with venture capital, and his due diligence process. I’d like to thank Sumeet personally as well as he has been vital to the growth of this podcast. So without further ado, here’s Sumeet.

A book that inspired Sumeet personally and professionally is Adam Grant’s Give and Take.

You can follow Sumeet on twitter @PE_Feeds and his website Le Cinq, If you’d like to follow along behind the scenes of the show, you can follow me @mikegelb and @consumervc

On this episode you will learn – 

  1. What attracted Sumeet to head into venture capital and what made you switch your focus from Biomedical engineering? Swiftarc’s thesis and focus and how the fund came together. His due diligence process when evaluating consumer startups and some qualities that you like to see from founders? How does he measure good growth vs bad growth? When should a startup optimize for profitability rather than growth?
  2. Does he think in this era of the DTC channel and low barrier of entry to start a brand and the more choice than ever for the consumer in brand that this is the golden age for brands? Consumer trends that he is most focused on in today’s landscape? What makes New York’s startup ecosystem an ideal place to be, especially in terms of consumer?
  3. What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital? What is one company that he had the opportunity to invest in, didn’t, and in retrospect wish he did? What is one piece of advice that you have for founders of consumer companies?

Jason Stoffer (Maveron) – Mediocre Markets, Early Traction, and Knowing Your Weaknesses

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Jason Stoffer is a General Partner at Maveron. Maveron is a premier consumer focused fund that invests in seed and Series A companies that empower consumers to live on their terms. Some of Maveron’s investments include Everlane, Allbirds, General Assembly, eBay, and Coursehero. Jason is focused on investing in education, e-commerce, and technology-enabled consumer businesses.

Jason Stoffer was an early Board member at zulily. He sourced Maveron’s investments in, and currently serves on the boards of General Assembly, Julep, Lively and Dolls Kill. He also led several of Maveron’s most promising seed investments, including CourseHero, Everlane and Peach.

Jason Stoffer was formerly a member of the advisory board of the Lumina Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Initiative. He is also a mentor for TechStars. Previously, he was a board member of Startl, an education incubator.

You can follow Jason on Twitter @jstoffer. You are welcome to follow along behind the scenes @mikegelb and @consumervc.

One book the inspired Jason personally is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and one book that inspired him professionally is Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter.

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. What attracted Jason to startups, technology and venture capital? Why the focus on consumer, what attracted you to invest in purely consumer companies at Maveron?How he thinks about early momentum and traction? What makes investing in consumer companies difficult? When does a company need to have product market fit?
  2. What are some qualities in first time founders that he looks go? What’s the Maveron founder scorecard? How he analyzes mediocre markets and why he’s a fan of  the Warren Buffet quote “When a great team meets a mediocre market, only the market maintains its reputation” strong markets.” What has changed in how he invests throughout the years? How does he think of the term “Founder Friendly” and what has happened with WeWork changed anything on his view.
  3. Qualities his diligence process when analyzing founder-market fit? What are consumer trends that he is focused on in today’s landscape?  How does he think about D2C brands in the current era with online acquisition costs continuing to rise since there is so much competition for SEM and Facebook ads?
  4. What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital? What is your most recent investment and why is he excited about it? What is one company that he had the opportunity to invest in, didn’t, and in retrospect wish you did? What is one piece of advice that he has for founders of consumer companies?