The Full Ratchet: Venture Capital Demystified

Jenny Rooke of Genoa Ventures joins Nick to discuss Seed Investing at the Intersection of Biology & Technology. In this episode, we cover:

  • Her background in genetics, physics, computer science... and how that lead to venture.
  • How was it to work with Melinda and Bill Gates?
  • You also successfully built the largest life-sciences syndicate on Angellist that is also one of the highest performing syndicates of any sector... I just took a peek at the rankings this morning and both New Stack and Genoa are in the top 5. Of course those rankings are done based on follow-on rate... so, it's nice to see we are in good company, up there w/ you Jenny... but talk a bit about why you started with a syndicate and how you've been able to drive such high performance.
  • You launched the Genoa fund last year... Syndicate and fund now?
  • "Genoa ventures invests in early-stage companies innovating at the intersection of biology and technology"... Jenny, what does that mean to you and what types of companies are you looking for?
  • Adverse effects from Theranos?
  • How and where do you source dealflow?
  • Talk a bit about your evaluation process and some of the unique things that you do when vetting prospective portfolio companies?
  • What's your take on VCs that pick a focus area and stay distinctly in their lane vs. those VCs that may have a focus but tend to dabble in variety of other areas?
  • A position I've heard from many tech VCs is... "There are additional layers of risk in life sciences... the science itself, clinical trials, regulatory approvals, etc. that don't apply w/ traditional tech startups... making it a very difficult category to successfully invest in"... Jenny, agree or disagree?
  • What's the biggest hindrance to either more or faster advancements in the life sciences space?
  • With regard to life sciences... What's required, in terms of progress, to raise a seed round... what about a series A?
  • How do you help your founders navigate the fundraising process where many VCs don't understand the science?
  • Have you invested in startups where the chief scientist is CEO? If so, how to you assess for and/or help coach the commercial skills and leadership skills required to build and scale a venture-backed startup?
  • How do you think the usage of automation and data will play a role in healthcare, therapeutics or other sectors?
  • If early performance is an indication of long-term results, Genoa is well positioned as an emerging brand in venture... but I'm curious to hear what winning looks like for you? How are you keeping score on yourself and portfolio you're building?
  • Talk about some exciting new innovations or trends that you’re seeing. Where do you think they will have a big impact and when?

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.


On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following individuals are featured:

  • Nick Moran
  • Rick Stokes
  • Joe Dwyer

This will be a unique segment where, Nick Moran of New Stack Ventures and Joe Dwyer of Founder Equity will discuss why they invested in Winston Privacy.

Founder of Winston, Rich Stokes, will join Nick and Joe to discuss his startup story and how he chose New Stack to lead the investment and Founder Equity to participate in the funding round.

 

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

 


On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • Craig Wortmann
  • SC Moatti
  • Bradley Tusk

Each investor discusses sectors, drivers and/or trends that may have significant impact in the future and are potentially positioned for outsized-returns.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_111_-Whats_Next_Wortmann_Moatti_Tusk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Ash Rust of Sterling Road joins Nick to discuss "Blessed" Teams, Pseudo Deal Leads, and Caps at Pre vs Post. In this episode, we cover:

  • His beginnings in tech and how that led to starting the fund
  • What's the investment thesis at Sterling Road?
  • What's unique about your approach that other firms aren't doing?
  • Something that I think is frustrating for many founders is seeing these idealistic stories of founders that are raising $5M on a $20M cap with zero traction. And, it's also misleading in that I have a number of founders that think they need to be raising a lot more than they are... very early on before indications of product fit or even a focused commercial plan. Can you talk about the profile of these teams that are able to raise seemingly irrational seed rounds and then later let's jump into consequences.
  • The seed round has now divided into a series of phases... we have pre-seed, seed, mango seed, seed+, seed exensions, etc. We've spoken to Semil Shah about this and how it's no longer a stage it's a series of phases and gates. Can you talk about these phases and how founders should think about milestones and raise amounts prior to raising an A?
  • At New Stack we've encountered some strange and troubling circumstances regarding who the lead investor is on a deal and who is not. What are you seeing in terms of who takes the lead and how has that evolved over the past few years?
  • Pro Rata has always been a hot button issue, for a variety of reasons and we're seeing some new challenges emerge as our portcos are raising up-rounds. What are the key issues you're observing with pro rata and what's your opinion on how it should be handled?
  • A number of my founders are either raising more in their seed round or trying to pull-in and raise their A rounds before their ready b/c everyone is sounding the alarms about an impending recession... raise the money now, before it dries up. This seems curious and a bit misleading from my standpoint... What are your thoughts on founders raising more money or raising sooner because of a potential recession?
  • I've been getting a number of pitch decks from so-called "CFOs" at startups... yet, upon review of a LinkedIN profile, it's pretty clear that these folks are bankers. Are you seeing the same and what are your thoughts?
  • I think it was about eight months ago that YC changed its SAFE to a post-money cap, instead of a pre-money cap. They claimed to have the right intentions when they made the switch but we were immediately suspect for a few obvious reasons, some less so. Talk about about SAFEs as an investment instrument and your thoughts on the switch to post money caps.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.


On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • Cyan Banister
  • David Cohen
  • John Fein

Each investor highlights a situation where they decided not to invest, why they passed, and how it played out.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_110_-_Why_I_Passed_Banister_Cohen_Fein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures joins Nick to discuss Iconic Companies, Frontier Markets & a Truly Founder Centric Approach. In this episode, we cover:

  • Backstory / Path to tech in SF?
  • Prior to founding Felicis Ventures, you were a Product Manager at Google, launching their first 10 international sites, its first online search licensing products, and its first Safe Search…talk about what lead to your transition to investing.
  • What’s the story behind founding Felicis Ventures?
  • Talk about the investment focus and approach of your firm.
  • It states on the firms website that you back founders looking to open up frontier markets, such as longevity and engineered foods, and reinvent critical markets such as mental health and insurance….what are some of the success factors you've observed in startups trying to create or reinvent markets.
  • You’ve invested in many iconic companies that have revolutionized their industry such as Shopify, Fitbit and CreditKarma, when investing at early stages, how do you differentiate between the ideas or trends that are going to have this long term affect from the ones that may not be so successful?
  • Felicis states on the site that "The difference between a good product and a great product is one incalculably better than the current alternative. Successful founders have laser sharp focus on true product differentiation, intelligent time and capital allocation" Help us understand what seperates good product from great product.
  • Differences in investing in domestic vs. international startups?
  • You do this survey every year of your portfolio companies... can you talk about the key insights you've learned from doing that?

 

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/
for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.


On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • Rebecca Kaden
  • Roy Bahat
  • Elizabeth Galbut

Each investor discusses a portfolio company that did not survive and why it was that they failed.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_109_-_Post_Mortems_Kaden_Bahat_Galbut.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Adeyemi Ajao of Base 10 Partners joins Nick to discuss Automation vs. AI. In this episode, we cover:

  • Backstory - Growing up in Spain and Nigeria and his path to entrepreneurship.
  • Previous to Base10 Partners, you had quite a successful career as an entrepreneur, founding highly influential companies such as Tuenti, Identified and Cabify in Latin America - talk a bit about your experience founding and scaling multiple tech companies, ultimately to exit?
  • How did you, TJ and Reggie come together and decide to create Base10?
  • On the website it says that you "started Base10 to take a profoundly different approach to Automation." Tell us more about your thesis on automation and how it's different.
  • Talk about Automation vs. AI and the potentially misleading guidance that we're hearing from many firms in the valley with regard to AI.
  • Of course, with any big changes that are made to the way people traditionally do things, there is a reaction. While some will embrace automation tools, others will have an adverse reaction. Are there certain sectors, categories or even functions that you think will more readily adopt automation solutions?
  • You mentioned a number of industries... Real Estate, Construction, SaaS, Agriculture, Logistics, Consumer... you have these Partners listed on the website, like Fifth Wall, Bessemer, Owl, Shasta, Bain Capital... can you explain the details of your partnership program?
  • When researching sectors that you’re interested in and assessing the opportunity to implement automation tools, what key factors are you looking for?
  • "We know automation. We have seen it succeed and fail. We know what playbook to apply from team structure to go-to-market, automated customer service or data collection systems." Talk to us about the playbook elements that have application across the automation-focused startups you work with?
  • You've discussed the pride you take in being: Hispanic, American, European, African, black and white. It's quite notable that you raised the first black-led VC fund of over $100M. How were able to break through such a significant glass ceiling where others haven't?

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: 183._Automation_vs._AI_Adeyemi_Ajao.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00pm EDT

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • Evangelos Simoudis
  • Cheryl Cheng
  • Wayne Kimmel

Each investor describes the most unusual situation or pitch that they've encountered as an investor.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_108_-_Strange__Unusual_Simoudis_Cheng_Kimmel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Jeff Clavier of Uncork Capital joins Nick to discuss Market Cycles, Escalating Costs to Start Up, and the Micro VC Surge. In this episode, we cover:

 

  • In 2004 you started making angel investments in emerging Web 2.0 companies and at that time, only a handful of individuals backed entrepreneurs in the internet space…What was your first investment and how did you get involved in the space? 
  • What's the story of the founding of SoftTech--now known as Uncork Capital. 
  • What led to the rebrand from SoftTech to Uncork? 
  • The investment focus/thesis of Uncork. 
  • You mentioned...FitBit, EventBrite, and Sendgrid...it's striking how different each of these businesses are...How you are able to get conviction and understand key success factors across different sectors with different models and overall profiles? 
  • How have the market cycles affected VC, your fund strategy, raising capital and the impact on portfolio companies? 
  • What are the most common mistakes you see early investors making? 
  • With the 600+ micro-VC funds now...is the stage over capitalized? 
  • Is it more expensive to build a startup today than 10 years ago? 
  • Being that you are from France...in your estimation, what have been the primary differences in funding European based startups vs. those in the States? 
  • Said to be one of the most helpful investors in the valley... what are some of the specific ways you get involved? 
  • On the firms website it talks about your “No Playbook” and “No Bullshit” approach that you’re not delivering “prescriptive formulas on how to build or scale” but instead developing custom plans, one on one. Tell us about these custom plans and the key elements. 
  • How Jeff balances time and energy with so many portfolio companies.

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • SC Moatti
  • Brendan Wallace
  • Vic Pascucci

Each investor illustrates a critical lesson learned about startup investing and how it's changed their approach.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_107_-_Lessons_Learned_Moatti_Wallace_Pascucci.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Welcome back to TFR for another Cram Session. In these special releases, we have aggregated the takeaways and tips from previous episodes. In this installment, we will be recapping the following episodes:

 

 

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ 
for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: 181._Cram_Session_Episodes_130-136_Nick_Moran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00pm EDT

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

  • Jim Tananbaum
  • John Fein
  • Sarah Anderson

Each investor discusses sectors, drivers and/or trends that may have significant impact in the future and are potentially positioned for outsized-returns.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.


Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_106_-_Whats_Next_Tananbaum_Fein_Anderson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Cyan Banister of Founders Fund joins Nick to discuss the Self-Made Engineer, Angel, and Venture Capitalist. In this episode, we cover:

 

  • So, Cyan you have a really interesting story and background that led you to where you are today. Feel free to start wherever makes most sense but can you talk about your life experience and how it led you to where you're at now?
  • You spoke publicly about your early life at the 2018 TechCrunch Disrupt conference, from living on the streets to becoming a venture capitalist, tell us about this incredible journey, what you accredit your success to and how it lead to venture?
  • Where along the way did you meet Scott? Did you guys every consider raising your own fund?
  • How early are you able to go at Founder's Fund?
  • How do you work with founders post-investment?
  • Judicious with your magic bullets?
  • Have you funded founders with non-traditional backgrounds or missions dedicated to folks living in poverty or providing access to upward mobility?
  • How has your approach changed from your time as an angel to now your experience as a VC ?
  • Do you have any good stories or learnings from Naval?
  • Prior to FF you were an early stage investor in successful companies like Uber, Postmates, PayPal at others... I know you invest alongside Scott... who started angel investing?
  • What was your early approach to angel investing and how were you able to source and select such iconic tech companies at very early stages?
  • Can you tell us a bit about Founder's Fund and your focus? Stage, Sectors, Geographies?
  • "The most promising companies tend to share a few characteristics: They are not popular. They are difficult to assess. They have technology risk, but not insurmountable technology risk. If they succeed, their technology will be extraordinarily valuable. We have no idea what these companies might look like, only that they probably will share these characteristics. Entrepreneurs often know better than we do what might be enormously valuable in the future." -- It's a very humble approach and one that resonates with me and many others. Can you elaborate on the thesis and characteristics of founders that are the best fit for Founders Fund?
  • What's your take on the prevalent number of VCs that remove CEOs of their portfolio companies, on average, within three years of investment?
  • What's your take on contrarian vs. conformist investing... first, how do you even determine what is contrarian and then what's your take on how each ties to performance?
Direct download: 180._The_Self-Made_Engineer_Angel_and_Venture_Capitalist_Cyan_Banister.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:30pm EDT

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

Bradley Tusk
Roy Bahat
Brian Ascher

Each investor highlights a situation where they decided not to invest, why they passed, and how it played out.

 

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_105_-_Why_I_Passed_Tusk_Bahat_Ascher.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Craig Wortmann of Sales Engine joins Nick to discuss Sales Mastery & Storytelling at Scaling Startups. In this episode, we cover:

-Craig's background and how he became involved in the early stage tech community.

-You've spent a lot of time looking at how companies make this difficult transition from the scrappy, do-it-all world of "Entrepreneurial Selling" to a "Professional Selling" organization. Talk to us about what you've observed and how companies struggle in this transition.

-When is the right time to transition from 'guerilla selling' to a more organized, professional process?

-When we had Tae Hee Nahm on the program he talked about three different types of sales leaders at different stages of a startup. At the beginning it was a Davey Crocket- like individual, an independent explorer who will find their own path through the wilderness... then at the growth stage, Braveheart individual- someone with that warrior spirit and finally at the scale stage he looks for the Dwight Eisenhower-- someone with political savvy to align all the sales folks and move in the right direction... do you agree or disagree and how does your philosophy differ?

-What do you do when a top performing salesperson won't use the tools, align with the culture or conform to processes.

-How do you handle it when the product is broken... it's clear that the offering is lacking and the issue is not with sales.

-How about situations where one is selling something that doesn't exist?

-Storytelling... I see founders fail at this often and even I often failed in telling my story when raising Fund I. Where do most people go wrong?

-What's the story canvas and how should it best be used?

-You talk about how folks should think about 'capturing, distilling, and telling' the right story at the right time for the right reasons. What's your advice here?

-One of the more popular things you teach at Kellogg is called the 'The Perfect Sales Meeting'. Can you talk to us about how one should think, plan and increase their sales meeting effectiveness?

-Between sales meetings or when a prospect is slow to make a decision... how does one create urgency and positive momentum toward a decision?

Direct download: 179._Sales_Mastery__Storytelling_at_Scaling_Startups_Craig_Wortmann.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:25pm EDT

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:

Ash Fontana
Wayne Kimmel
Chris Farmer
 
Each investor illustrates a critical lesson learned about startup investing and how it's changed their approach.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_104_-_Lessons_Learned_Fontana_Kimmel_Farmer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

On this special segment of The Full Ratchet, the following Investors are featured:


Tae Hea Nahm
David Cohen
Yoav Leitersdorf

Each investor discusses a portfolio company that did not survive and why it was that they failed.

To listen more, please visit http://fullratchet.net/podcast-episodes/ for all of our other episodes.

Also, follow us on twitter @TheFullRatchet for updates and more information.

Direct download: Investor_Stories_103_-_Post_Mortems__Nahm_Cohen_Leitersdorf.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EDT

Cheryl Cheng of Blue Run Ventures joins Nick to discuss The Gen-Z Consumer, Real-Time Health Data, and Persistent Top Fund Returns. In this episode, we cover:

  • Cheryl's background in retail marketing and innovation while you were with Clorox and The Sharper Image.
  • How did that lead to your career in venture?
  • On your website it says, "WE HELP ENTREPRENEURS BUILD MAGICAL COMPANIES,"... how specifically do you help?
  • Talk to me about about the Gen-Z folks... this is part of your focus at BRV... what are the high-level characteristics of this coveted consumer segment?
  • Are founders adjusting their approach to tech to better serve this group?
  • How the evolution of mobile apps and real time data has influenced the health and consumer industries?
  • You recently spoke on a panel about acquisitions... can you talk a bit about what it takes to build a company that's well-positioned for an exit?
  • Talk to me about Equity Summit coming up in January... what is it, what was the genesis and what are you hoping to accomplish?
  • This year Prequin reported that BRV is one of the most consistently high performing firms in venture... I know that you've been at this for ten years now at Blue Run... what are some of the key factors that have led to your sustained success?
  • I came across your recent article on succession planning and it had me a bit worried... are you planning leaving the industry anytime soon?

1