My goal for these yearly posts (year 1 summary here) is to give people a view into what VC is really like since there seems to be a black hole as to what we really do and how it gets done.
Today is my official two year anniversary in Venture Capital.* I feel old, but really it’s more akin to being a toddler as the journey to being a fully grown VC can take the better part of a decade,** and I’m still learning how to walk.
I still consider myself a recovering mechanical engineer making it up as I go. I’m not sure how much longer the transition period is until I’m fully recovered, but I think it is once I no longer feel like I can build something, which I hope never happens.
This is a big anniversary for a baby VC. For those who don’t know, VC is an ‘up or out’ job meaning you either get invited to stay or not and that cycle is usually two years. For most, this job has an expiration date, some self-imposed and some forced, so I consider myself lucky to still be here sharing my thoughts with you all.
This year was considerably more concentrated than year one. We did two of my deals at Wildcat, I now “observe” four boards of our existing portfolio companies, and I made an angel investment in a triple bottom line company that I’ve been advising for over two-and-a-half years. Additionally, I went from going to a lot of events to speaking at a lot of events.
In writing this I realize I didn’t publish any of the content of my talks for the year (facepalm), so I’ll have to do that in a later post(s), but the highlights are:
- Keynoted the Einstein AI Event on the future of work: Deck
- Spoke at UVCA’s Davos event with Andrey Kolodyuk, Vivek Ranadivé and Vitaly M. Golomb ✈ on the future of technology investing: Video
- Spoke at Horasis Global Initiative in Portugal on the future of robotics and ended up on roundtables on the future of capital and the future of labor. Here is some footage from the roundtable on the future of capital- my cameos are with 17 minutes and 5:10 minutes left.
- Spoke at Augmented Reality World Expo on who will win in this chapter of AR with the amazing Adaora Udoji: youtube.***
Venture Capitalists are first and foremost money managers and we have a fiduciary responsibility to make as much money as possible for our investors. As such, the most important yardstick that younger VC’s are measured against is how many deals you bring in that get done by the partnership and you get promoted on how good those deals end up being. As a low-volume shop, we don’t do that many deals a year, I am happy and humbled to say that two of our full-up investments in Wildcat’s first fund were deals that I sourced. The trust building that comes from that within the partnership is an awesome start, but it’s a long road ahead.
The first is a mapping company What3words, which you can read all about here. Reading this from the comfort of a major metro area, it might be hard for most Medium readers to rationalize the problem w3w solves, but for anyone who has been to a developing country or a country that doesn’t care that you speak English (i.e. Japan), you know how hard it is to navigate. This problem touches 4 billion people globally, and if you ever find yourself in a situation unable to communicate where you are or where you’re going you’ll be thankful you downloaded the app. Here’s the download link in case you need it ;).
The second was LeaseLock, there is a new post coming out specifically about them soon, but the short summary is that you hate your security deposit, but your landlord/property manager hates your security deposit even more. Moving that painful upfront cost to a monthly fee is a win-win scenario for all parties and gets more deserving renters into apartments. Reichen, Derek and their team just launched their new product offering at the end of Q2 and are absolutely groovin’.
Truth be told, the scariest thing I did all year though was commit personal capital to an investment in Position Limited. Ron and his team are rebuilding supply chains in favor of the original producers, and this admirable company has their first product launching next year. Supporting the cause is easy: buy stuff from people not brands.
Work travel is fun right up until it isn’t. I’m writing this article sick in bed from all the work travel on the summer circuit, and I think that alone will be a forcing function for me to stay more tightly rooted geographically. I still have my airline status, which I’m thankful for because with portfolio companies from London to Los Angeles that is the only thing that makes flying United tolerable…