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?

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