Jordan Nof (Tusk VP) – Regulated Industries, The Importance of Timing, and Good Growth vs. Bad Growth

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Jordan Nof is a Managing Partner and the Head of Investments at Tusk Venture Partners, where he oversees all aspects of the firm’s venture capital investment practice and is a member of the Investment Committee. Jordan has led many of the Fund’s capital investments including Lemonade, Bird, Alma, and Sunday. He currently serves on the board of directors of Alma and Sunday.

Prior to Tusk Venture Partners, Jordan spent six years as a Director at Blackstone, where he focused on the development of the firm’s corporate venture capital portfolio. During that time, Jordan focused on investing in early-stage technology companies that could accelerate operations across Blackstone and the firm’s underlying portfolio companies. He led Blackstone’s first real estate technology investment and worked within the Innovations team to execute investments in financial technology and cyber-security startups.

You can follow Jordan on Twitter @jordannof.

A book that inspired Jordan both personally and professionally is Zero To One by Peter Thiel

In this episode you will learn – 

  1. What made Jordan leave Blackstone in order to go into Venture Capital with Tusk? Tusk’s thesis and why they invest in regulated industries. The difficulties when it comes to investing regulated industries and the Tusk advantage? 
  2. What makes him excited about investing in consumer companies in today’s landscape? What are some consumer verticals that he is most excited about and are ripe for disruption?
  3. At the early stage when a company doesn’t have a lot of data, what are some qualities that he look for in a founder? When does a company need to find product market fit in their fundraising stage? How he thinks about the future of regulation in certain industries? How do you think about good growth vs. bad growth today? Does he think Nike announcing that they are not selling on Amazon a big deal?
  4. What is something that you would change when it came to venture capital? What is his most recent investment and why is he excited about it? What is one piece of advice that you have for founders of consumer companies?

Eamonn Carey (Techstars) – Consumer Trends in Europe, Expanding to New Markets, and The Three Most Important Words in the English Language

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Eamonn Carey is the Managing Director at Techstars London. Techstars is a global seed accelerator and worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed and is currently in over 150 countries worldwide. Some of their alumni include Classpass, Pillpack, and Contently. He was previously MD at Techstars Connection in partnership with AB InBev in New York, and has been a long term mentor, advisor and angel investor in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US.

In the past, Eamonn started, succeeded and failed with several startups in Europe and the Middle East – including Farmvillain – an app which some described as the ‘South Park of Facebook’.

A book that impacted Eamonn professionally is The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande and one that impacted him personally is A Third Plate by Dan Barber.

In this episode, you will learn – 

  1. What attracted Eamonn to startups, entrepreneurship and then move to the other side of the table to investing? What are the advantages for startups being part of Techstars London? How is London’s ecosystem is different from New York and the bay area? What is his due diligence process like, what are some of the qualities that you look for in founders and determining founder-market fit?
  2. What are some metrics that he pays attention in the diligence process and how do you determine if you’ve found product market fit? What is different about London’s ecosystem compared to maybe The bay area or New York? What global trends he’s looking at? What is his view of remote working?
  3. How he thinks about consumer trends in different markets and how consumer companies are expanding to different markets? Consumer verticals that he is excited about or focused on for expansion in Asian markets? What are some of the difficulties when investing in consumers? Has today’s landscape with round sizes booming changed how he invests?
  4. He wrote about how raising too much money can kill you, how does he think about good growth vs. bad growth in a startup? What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital? What is one company that is part of his most recent cohort and why did you invest? 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 for founders of consumer companies?

Greg Bettinelli (Upfront Ventures) – #longla, Why Los Angeles Has Become a Hub of Consumer Innovation, and finding Product-Market Fit & Founder-Market Fit

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Greg Bettinelli is a partner at Upfront Ventures. Upfront Ventures is a Los Angeles early-stage venture capital fund has been integral to the LA emerging tech ecosystem, with investments including GOAT, Bird, Parachute Home and Ring. Prior to Upfront, Greg was the CMO for LA-based HauteLook, EVP of Business Development and Strategy at Live Nation and held a number of leadership positions at eBay, including Sr. Director of Business Development at StubHub. He is Mr. #longla and we talk about how LA’s ecosystem has evolved, how he thinks about founder-market and product-market fit and much much more. It was simply terrific chatting with Greg, so without further ado, here is Greg.

You can follow Greg @gregbettinelli You are welcome to follow along behind the scenes @mikegelb and @consumervc.

A book that impacted Greg is Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

On this episode you will learn:

  1. What attracted Greg to the world of venture capital and startups from his impressive career at eBay, Stubhub, Live Nation, and Hautelook? What were some of the learnings, working at these tech companies that have influenced you as an investor? 
  2. What are some of the differences when investing in consumer vs. enterprise? Why do you focus on investing in consumer and what makes you excited about consumer in this current investment landscape?
  3. What’s the average check size at Upfront ventures and what stages does he focus on? What are some metrics that you focus on in your due diligence? How does he evaluate if a company has found product-market fit? How does he approach founder-market fit? How does Greg think about good growth vs bad growth?
  4. What was the Los Angeles venture capital and startup scene like when he started investing and the transformation?Why is Los Angeles becoming such a hotspot for consumer companies and innovation? What are some consumer trends that he is most excited about? How important is it where you are based geographically as an investor since you have lots of different online communication options and are able to invest in different parts of the world?
  5. What is something that he would change when it came to venture capital? What is one company that you either invested in or worked with that you are proud of?What is one company that is on his anti portfolio? What is one piece of advice that you have for founders of consumer companies?

Paul Martino (Bullpen Capital) – What it Means to be a Contrarian Investor, The Arbitrage Opportunity at Post Seed, and Founders That Have Chips On Their Shoulders

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Our guest today is Paul Martino, Managing Partner of Bullpen Capital, an early-stage, post-seed venture fund investing in technology companies that have been funded by super-angels and institutional seed funds. Some of their portfolio companies include FanDuel, Namely, Ipsy.

Prior to founding Bullpen, Paul was a serial entrepreneur of companies including Ahpah Software (a computer security firm acquired by InterTrust); Tribe (one of the world’s first social networks), and Aggregate Knowledge (a big data advertising attribution company acquired in 2014 by Neustar). He is the holder of over a dozen core patents covering social networking and big data.He was also an active angel investor and personally invested in the first rounds of Zynga, TubeMogul, and uDemy.

One book that impacted Paul professionally is Play Bigger by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, and Christopher Lockhead. One book that impacted him personally is The Burden of Bad Ideas by Heather MacDonald

In this episode you will learn:

  1. Why Paul became an entrepreneur? Why he ended up on the other side of the table and switched to venture capital? Why it’s important for investors to have operational experience? 
  2. Why investing at the post seed stage is an arbitrage opportunity? What are some of the challenges when investing in consumer vs. enterprise?
  3. Should founders be aware of signaling risk? What should founders be asking venture capitalists that are looking to invest? What is his diligence process and how does he analyze founders and opportunities? When should a founder switch from optimizing to profitability from growth? What makes the Philadelphia ecosystem interesting?
  4. One thing you would change when it came to venture capital? How does he feel about the cold email? What his latest investment is and why he’s excited about it? One piece of advice for founders of consumer companies

You are welcome to follow along behind the scenes @mikegelb and @consumervc.

Anna Barber (Techstars) – What makes the Los Angeles Tech Ecosystem So Special, Breakdown of Techstars Accelerator Program, Tips on How to Reach Out to Investors

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Anna Barber is the Managing Director of Techstars – Los Angeles. Techstars is a global seed accelerator and worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed and is currently in over 150 countries worldwide. Some of their alumni include Classpass, Pillpack, and Contently. Previously, Anna has experience as a corporate lawyer, McKinsey consultant, product executive and entrepreneur in ed tech, retail and e-commerce. 

For all founders in the Los Angeles area, applications to be part of Techstars LA Accelerator 2020 cohort are open! You have until April 5th 2020 to apply. Click Here To Apply

Three books that inspired Anna personally and professionally are Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up by Jerry Colonna and Why We Buy by Paco Underhill.

You can follow Anna on Twitter @annawbarber. You are also welcome to follow along behind the scenes @mikegelb and @consumervc

On this episode you will learn – 

  1. Why Anna became an investor in Tech? What is the criteria for startups looking to apply to Techstars accelerator? The three different phases in the Techstars 12 week program. 
  2. What are some qualities she looks for in founders and founding teams? Why engagement metrics are so important. Why in the early stages, CAC/LTV is not an important metric.
  3. “The Pied Piper Effect”. If you have a better name, she’s all ears. Why is investing in consumer so challenging? What are some of the consumer trends that she’s most excited about? Why consumer is not formulaic.
  4. Why it is such an exciting time to be in the Los Angeles tech ecosystem? What are some of the reasons why a Techstars alumnus startup might fail to raise the next round? What’s one thing she would change about venture capital? Tips how to reach out to venture capitalists. One piece of advice for founders of consumer companies.

Mike Ghaffary (Canvas Ventures) – How to Evaluate Online Marketplaces, Why This is a Contrarian time to Invest in Consumer

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Mike Ghaffary is a General Partner at Canvas Ventures, one of the premier thesis driven early stage venture capital funds in San Francisco that invests in Fintech, Digital Health, Marketplaces, and New Enterprise. Prior to Canvas, Mike was a General Partner at Social Capital and as an angel investor, some of his investments include Strava, Skip Scooters, Pocket, Philz Coffee, Atrium, and Superhuman. He also has 10 years of operating experience as CEO of Eat24, VP Business and Corporate Development at Yelp, Director of Business Development at TrialPay, and co-founder of Stitcher and BarMax. And before that, Mike started his investing career at Summit Partners.

For this episode, we talk quite extensively about evaluating marketplaces. Mike has written a few articles on the subject, the one we touch on is “Where I’m Investing and 15 Marketplace Questions”.

Two books that have impacted Mike professionally and personally is Give and Take by Adam Grant and Drive by Daniel Pink

You can follow Mike on Twitter @newmike for updates. You are also welcome to follow your host @mikegelb and @consumervc for updates.

On this episode you learn – 

  1. What attracted Mike to working in startups and becoming a founder? How important having operational experience is? What’s makes him excited to invest in consumer tech in this current climate?
  2. What is a marketplace? An overview of the advantages of marketplaces. What marketplace founders need to consider when identifying and building marketplaces? Cross Side and same side network effects & negative network effects. How important is having your own unique distribution? Evaluating switching costs.
  3. Online customer acquisition costs for both supply and demand. The current outlook of online CAC in today’s climate. 
  4. One thing he would change about venture capital. How an entrepreneur should think when a venture fund says they need a lead investor in order to invest?

…and much much more!

If you would like to follow along you can click “Subscribe” on the Apple podcast app or whichever platform you are listening on. If you enjoyed the episode, feel free to also leave a review. You are also to see all episodes here and learn more at www.theconsumervc.com and follow Mike on Twitter or Instagram

Leah Solivan (Fuel Capital) – The Importance of Passion, When a Company Should Have Product-Market Fit, and What Founders Should Pay Attention To In Their Pitch Decks

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Leah Solivan is General Partner at Fuel Capital and previously, Leah was the founder and CEO of Taskrabbit, which was acquired by IKEA. Fuel Capital is an early-stage venture fund focused on consumer, SaaS, and cloud infrastructure companies dedicated to giving outsiders the inside edge through unrelenting commitment, authenticity, and hustle. Some of their investments include Bark, Flexport, Crowd Cow.

You can follow Leah on Twitter @labunleashed.You are also welcome to follow your host @mikegelb and @consumervc for updates.

A book that impacted you personally and professionally is Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston

On this episode, we discuss:

  1. Why Leah left her job at IBM to start Task Rabbit? Her learnings from founding Task Rabbit and why she became a venture capitalist? Some of Fuel Capital’s strategic advantages and what makes Fuel unique?
  2. The differences when analyzing consumer vs. enterprise businesses. Qualities in founders that she is focused on. How do you know when a company know they have found product-market fit? When should a company have product-market fit in relation to the fundraising round? How she thinks about traction and milestones. 
  3. In a pitch deck, an element that’s very important but often overlooked. When a fund says they need a lead investor, does it automatically mean bad news for the founder? How she thinks about online customer acquisition costs in today’s landscape? Consumer trends she’s focused on?
  4. One thing she would change about venture capital and advice for consumer startups.

If you would like to follow along you can click “Subscribe” on the Apple podcast app or whichever platform you are listening on. If you enjoyed the episode, feel free to also leave a review. You are also to see all episodes here and learn more at www.theconsumervc.com and follow Mike on Twitter or Instagram