The Full Ratchet (TFR): Venture Capital and Startup Investing Demystified

Ryan Gembala of Pathbreaker Ventures joins Nick to discuss Breaking Convention, Hitting The Fundraise Wall & Why Deep-tech Is Not More Capital Intensive Than Software. In this episode, we cover:

  • Backstory/Path to Venture
  • Talk about your time at Facebook and working in M&A.
  • What's the thesis at Pathbreaker?
  • How do you define pre-seed?
  • Most of your dealflow inbound or outbound?
  • Quote from the website: "We don't believe all great companies, nor all phenomenal investments, look the same early on. So we are flexible, realistic, and patient - solving for supporting the founders best-suited for tackling the most meaningful problems." I'm curious, what are the must-haves that cut across all investments that you do?  
  • You've said to me that hardware isn't more capital intensive than software. As a hardware investor myself, that was refreshing to hear but I'm sure there are many founders and investors that would strongly disagree. Why is not more capital intensive?
  • Do you think the time horizon to exit is longer?
  • We've all been in this situation where founders hit a wall — they're running out of money, having a hard time telling your story, investors aren't pulling the trigger to invest, there are team challenges, maybe trouble converting from pilots to licenses... Give us examples of how you dig in and help when it gets tough.
  • We've seen some recent failures or, at least, setbacks in the automation/robotics space. High profile companies like Zume pizza and CafeX have had significant challenges... what's your take on where these companies went wrong?
  • What's your POV on robotics investing and the types of opportunities that are going to be successful?
  • Just speaking to Kane Hsieh at Root about the effect of automation, robotics on jobs... what's your stance on the impact of these technologies on employment?
  • You've had a number of Series A's just here in the past couple of weeks... seems like every time we connect you are dealing w/ a number of up-rounds at A and B. Clearly something is working so congrats on the early success. Talk to me a bit about how hard it is to raise a Series A?
  • Different types of companies have to achieve different milestones/benchmarks to raise and A but have you seen any common traction levels or standards to successfully close an A round?
  • For founders that are considering M&A and maybe some options are emerging for exit... what advice would you have?

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