83 episodios

Venture Unlocked is the playbook for starting, operating, & scaling a successful venture capital firm. Samir Kaji, Host of Venture Unlocked has +20-years of experience assisting & advising startups and venture firms. Listen for VC fund guidance.

ventureunlocked.substack.com

Venture Unlocked: The playbook for venture capital managers Samir Kaji

    • Economía y empresa

Venture Unlocked is the playbook for starting, operating, & scaling a successful venture capital firm. Samir Kaji, Host of Venture Unlocked has +20-years of experience assisting & advising startups and venture firms. Listen for VC fund guidance.

ventureunlocked.substack.com

    GGV's Jeff Richards on making sense of the market today, growing a $9B+ firm, and whether geo-political tensions may affect international venture investing

    GGV's Jeff Richards on making sense of the market today, growing a $9B+ firm, and whether geo-political tensions may affect international venture investing

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    We have a great conversation on top this week with Jeff Richards, Managing Partner at GGV Capital. Founded in 2000, GGV manages nearly $10B in AUM and invests across stages in both the US and Asia, and has invested in companies such as AirBnB, Wish, Opendoor, and Grab. 

    This was a great conversation as Jeff has been both on the founder and investor side, and has spent the last 14 years at GGV where he’s had a front-row seat to the incredible evolution of the firm to what it is today. He provided us with some great thoughts on the markets today, the challenges of growing a firm, and how the current geopolitical tensions may affect international investing. 

    About Jeff Richards:
    Jeff focuses on enterprise/cloud and marketplace investments, and led GGV’s investments in Appirio (acq by Wipro), Belong, BigCommerce (NASDAQ: BIGC), BlueKai (acq by Oracle), Boxed, Brightwheel, Buddy Media (acq by Salesforce), Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN), Electric.ai, Evolv OnDemand (acq by Cornerstone), Gladly, Handshake, HotelTonight (acq by Airbnb), Lambda School, Mindee, Namely, People.ai, PlushCare/Accolade (NASDAQ: ACCD), Slice, Tala, Tile, Vic.ai, Workboard, and Zylo.

    Prior to joining GGV, Jeff founded two software companies: R4, a supply chain SaaS business acquired by VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN), and QuantumShift, a telecom software business backed by Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Earlier in his career, Jeff worked in Asia and Latin America with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He graduated from Dartmouth College.

    Our sponsor:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    In this episode we discuss:

    02:06 Jeff’s journey into venture capital
    08:30 What it took to scale GGV to what it is today
    14:32 How they had to shift internal mindset as they scaled fund sizes
    20:55 How the current market compares to previous cycles
    27:33 The health of the current venture market and areas where Jeff sees growth potential
    33:46 Advice to investors looking to create a venture portfolio
    39:30 How the geopolitical climate is affecting investing both in the US and globally
    46:26 Why emerging markets are still a strong place to look for alpha in the current market
    48:11 The best piece of career advice he’s received

    I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Jeff. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

    Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee Agency

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 53 min
    Viola Ventures' Danny Cohen on the Israel's exponential growth as a tech hub, building decision frameworks for picking, and managing a firm in a rapidly changing market

    Viola Ventures' Danny Cohen on the Israel's exponential growth as a tech hub, building decision frameworks for picking, and managing a firm in a rapidly changing market

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    This week we have Venture Unlocked’s first international manager with Danny Cohen from Israel-based Viola Ventures. Originally founded under the name Carmel Ventures in 2000, Viola currently has over $4B in total assets under management. It’s focused on early-stage companies in the fields of enterprise infrastructure and applications, frontier and deep technologies (automotive, IOT, AR/VR, drones), software, software as a service, financial technology, Internet, media, communications, semiconductors, and consumer electronics.

    Danny joined the firm as a GP in 2013 after 11 years at Gemini Ventures.

    It was great to have an insider’s perspective given how much growth we’ve seen in the Israeli ecosystem over the last five years—which includes a 6X growth in funding of startups!

    About Daniel Cohen:
    Daniel Cohen is a General Partner at Viola Ventures. He has been at the fund since 2013 and invested in everything B2C, including Consumer Internet, e-Commerce, DTC, Games, and Digital Media.

    He currently serves on the board of EX.CO, Puls, Splacer, Deep, Lightricks, Maapilim, and Ruti He was also on the board of Tapingo (acquired by Grubhub for $150M) and Origami Logic (acquired by Intuit).

    In the past 15+ years worked closely with many of the best Israeli startups and personally lead investments in companies like Playbuzz, Puls, Lightricks, Tapingo, Adap.tv, Outbrain, Watchdox, Eyeview, Minute Media, and others.

    Prior to Viola, Daniel was GP at Gemini Israel Ventures. He did his undergrad at Tel Aviv University and got his MBA from INSEAD.

    Our sponsors:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    Sydecar is on a mission to enable anyone to be a capital allocator by creating tools built specifically for today’s venture investor. Their powerful software removes the headache of organizing private investments — so that you can focus on making deals, not spreadsheets.

    Whether you’re syndicating your first or fiftieth deal, Sydecar acts as your silent operating partner, handling all back office functions in a single place. Sydecar always has your back, so that you never have to worry about chasing subscription docs, lost wires, or late K-1s.

    Visit our website to learn more and join the waitlist for Sydecar’s limited beta. 

    In this episode we discuss:

    03:14 Danny's journey to becoming a full-time investor
    06:11 What is driving the growth in Israeli startups?
    10:44 Why Danny spends his time focusing on early-stage investments and how he finds edge in getting deals
    12:27 The Viola advantage in helping founders
    16:18 What Viola does to maintain synergy through their many distinct fund products
    17:44 Challenges around branching out into different sectors and stages
    21:22 Inflection points in Viola’s growth
    23:52 How Viola has handled generational change and fostered a growth culture
    25:29 The importance of transparency within the partnership
    28:38 What makes a good Venture Capital firm?
    31:13 The importance of power law in returns and what makes a great team and a great market
    33:11 Why picking companies has the edge over deal sourcing and winning when building a f

    • 37 min
    776's Alexis Ohanian on the new era of VC, using technology in a firm, and things he's most excited about today.

    776's Alexis Ohanian on the new era of VC, using technology in a firm, and things he's most excited about today.

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    Today I’m thrilled to bring you my conversation with Alexis Ohanian, founder of stage-agnostic firm Seven Seven Six, which was founded in 2020 and has over $750MM in AUM today. Many know Alexis from his experience as co-founding both Reddit and later Initialized Capital.

    There are so many interesting components of the firm’s model, including their Cerebro platform, which is the in-house technology they use to drive values to founders and limited partners. They are also exploring the intersection of VC and social media, launching their Titan Program to help those with strong platforms become investors.

    Alexis and Seven Seven Six have also been at the forefront of investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs and communities with their Seven Seven Six Foundation and other initiatives.

    About Alexis Ohanian:
    Alexis is an investor and founder. He has invested in ten decacorns and 25 unicorns, including Coinbase, Gusto, Hubspot, Patreon, and Deel. He was a member of the initial cohort at YC with his startup Reddit, and he co-founded Initialized Capital with Garry Tan. He’s the founder of the Seven Seven Six Foundation and is a proud father.

    Our sponsors:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    Sydecar is on a mission to enable anyone to be a capital allocator by creating tools built specifically for today’s venture investor. Their powerful software removes the headache of organizing private investments — so that you can focus on making deals, not spreadsheets.

    Whether you’re syndicating your first or fiftieth deal, Sydecar acts as your silent operating partner, handling all back office functions in a single place. Sydecar always has your back, so that you never have to worry about chasing subscription docs, lost wires, or late K-1s.

    Visit our website to learn more and join the waitlist for Sydecar’s limited beta. 

    In this episode we discuss:

    03:36 Why Alexis still lists being a waiter at Pizza Hut on his LinkedIn
    07:52 Why being customer-focused and EQ is so important in business
    09:28 Lessons Alexis has learned as a VC and why he decided to start Seven Seven Six
    16:52 How technology works as an edge to Seven Seven Six’s investing
    26:13 What founders really want from VC’s today, and why the venture landscape has complete shifted
    30:42 What the early focus has been at Seven Seven Six
    33:52 Their focus on being intentional on the type of LPs they admit
    40:47 How Seven Seven Six’s Titan Program is an alternative to scouts, and represents the new era of investing
    48:41 The power of ownership and investors having a voice and following on Social Media
    51:35 The best advice he’s ever received in his career

    I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Alexis. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

    Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee Agency

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get ac

    • 58 min
    8VC's Drew Oetting on their decision-making culture, building talent at firms, and his most critical learnings as an investor

    8VC's Drew Oetting on their decision-making culture, building talent at firms, and his most critical learnings as an investor

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    This week I’m happy to bring you my conversation with Drew Oetting, founding partner of 8VC, an Austin/SF/NY-based firm that he co-founded in 2015. Today the firm has >$3B in AUM, and has invested in companies such as Blend Labs, Addepar, Flexport, Oscar, and Hims.

    About Drew Oetting:
    Drew is a founding partner of 8VC. He focuses on investments across various stages and sectors including vertical software, health delivery, and biomanufacturing.

    He is also a founding Board Director of Affinity Technologies, an early-stage enterprise software company. Previously he was a partner at Formation 8. Drew also served as chief of staff to Joe Lonsdale prior to starting his investing career.

    Drew serves on the Competitiveness Council for Cerberus Capital Management. He is also a Trustee to LivingOnOne, a non-profit impact production studio; WeAreThorn, an NGO which leverages technology to eliminate child trafficking; and the Claremont McKenna College Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

    Our sponsors:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    Sydecar is on a mission to enable anyone to be a capital allocator by creating tools built specifically for today’s venture investor. Their powerful software removes the headache of organizing private investments — so that you can focus on making deals, not spreadsheets.

    Whether you’re syndicating your first or fiftieth deal, Sydecar acts as your silent operating partner, handling all back office functions in a single place. Sydecar always has your back, so that you never have to worry about chasing subscription docs, lost wires, or late K-1s.

    Visit our website to learn more and join the waitlist for Sydecar’s limited beta. 

    In this episode we discuss:

    03:06 Drew’s journey to becoming an investor and joining 8VC
    07:49 Early days at Formation 8 Partners
    11:13 Why 8VC split off to focus on early-stage investing
    17:23 Creating a true partnership where everyone has an authentic voice
    21:54 How 8VC builds a team first culture
    28:11 Acquiring and retaining talent - What firms need do.
    33:05 The difficulty of competing today
    39:04 Ingredients necessary for firms to have to consistently win deals in 2022
    43:51 The most impactful piece of investing advice he’s received

    I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Drew. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

    Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee Agency

    This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 48 min
    Bedrock Capital's Geoff Lewis on Vibe capital, the power of narrative violations, and winning in today's market

    Bedrock Capital's Geoff Lewis on Vibe capital, the power of narrative violations, and winning in today's market

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    This week we are joined by Geoff Lewis, Co-Founder and Managing partner of Bedrock Capital. Many in the industry know Geoff and Bedrock for their investing in non-consensus companies and founders, and in particular, for popularizing the notion of investing in narrative violations.

    Founded in 2018 with Eric Stromberg, Bedrock has $1B+ in AUM. Their portfolio companies include Cameo, Plaid, Flock Safety, among others.

    About Geoff Lewis:
    Geoff was named as one of the Top 100 Venture Capitalists in the world by CB Insights and The New York Times.

    Before Bedrock, Geoff was a Partner at Founders Fund for over five years. He was amongst the first to lead sizable early-stage venture rounds in companies including Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT), Wish, Privateer Holdings (NASDAQ: TLRY), Nubank, and RigUp. 

    Geoff was also an operator as Co-Founder and CEO of Topguest, a loyalty software platform that counted United Airlines, Hilton Worldwide, and Virgin America as clients. Geoff received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada.

    Our sponsors:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    Sydecar is on a mission to enable anyone to be a capital allocator by creating tools built specifically for today’s venture investor. Their powerful software removes the headache of organizing private investments — so that you can focus on making deals, not spreadsheets.

    Whether you’re syndicating your first or fiftieth deal, Sydecar acts as your silent operating partner, handling all back office functions in a single place. Sydecar always has your back, so that you never have to worry about chasing subscription docs, lost wires, or late K-1s.

    Visit our website to learn more and join the waitlist for Sydecar’s limited beta. 

    In this episode we discuss:

    03:29 What Geoff and Eric wanted to build when they founded Bedrock
    06:51 How they decided on working together
    09:17 How Geoff defines a narrative violation when investing in early-stage startups
    13:53 How to find companies that are narrative violations?
    17:10 How investment decisions are made internally at Bedrock
    21:36 How Geoff views LPs (Clients) and why an interpersonal fit is more important to him than other funds.
    25:32 The factors that go into consistently winning deals as a firm
    29:02 How large players entering the earlier investment stages is affecting Bedrock and the market in general
    31:52 How healthy is the market right now?
    34:18 Advice to anyone looking to invest in VC funds today
    37:13 How the Bedrock playbook has evolved over the years
    39:26 Can overthinking deals create issues for firms?
    42:22 What Geoff has learned about firm building
    45:53 The most impactful piece of career advice he’s received
    46:35 The most under-estimated quality of a good VC
    47:47 The people that have inspired him in his career

    I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Geoff. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Tw

    • 49 min
    David Cohen on founding Techstars, patterns of successful founders, and the math behind large portfolios 

    David Cohen on founding Techstars, patterns of successful founders, and the math behind large portfolios 

    Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

    This week I’m happy to share my conversation with David Cohen, Co-Founder and Chairman of Techstars, which along with YC has paved the path early-stage capital formation through the accelerator model.  

    Since its founding in 2006, TechStars has had 2600 companies graduate its programs and those companies have raised $16.5B in investments across all stages. In 2021 David stepped back from day-to-day operations to become Chairman.

    About David Cohen:
    David has been an entrepreneur and investor for his entire life. He has founded several companies and has invested in hundreds of startups such as Uber, Twilio, SendGrid, DigitalOcean, Pillpack, Classpass, Zipline, Scopely, Outreach, Remitly, SalesLoft, and DataRobot. In total, these investments have gone on to create more than $210B in value.

    Prior to Techstars, David was a co-founder of Pinpoint Technologies which was acquired by ZOLL Medical Corporation in 1999. He was also the founder and CEO of earFeeder, a music service that sold to SonicSwap. 

    David is the co-author (with Brad Feld) of Do More Faster; Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup.

    Our sponsors:

    At Brex, we build financial software and services to help startups scale faster. We understand that founders need to focus on building, not banking. So we’ve reimagined traditional financial systems to enable greater speed and productivity — no matter where founders and their teams are working.

    We offer a smart corporate card, business account, and mobile app that are easy to use from day one. No manuals needed here. Within minutes, you can deposit funds, send free wires and ACH worldwide, separate investor funds from operating expenses, earn great rewards, automate expenses, and more. 

    Everything we do at Brex is to help founders spend less time managing expenses and reporting on your runway — and more time building your business.

    Get started at brex.com/venture

    Sydecar is on a mission to enable anyone to be a capital allocator by creating tools built specifically for today’s venture investor. Their powerful software removes the headache of organizing private investments — so that you can focus on making deals, not spreadsheets.

    Whether you’re syndicating your first or fiftieth deal, Sydecar acts as your silent operating partner, handling all back office functions in a single place. Sydecar always has your back, so that you never have to worry about chasing subscription docs, lost wires, or late K-1s.

    Visit our website to learn more and join the waitlist for Sydecar’s limited beta. 

    In this episode we discuss:

    03:08 What led David to founding TechStars
    04:47 The 15-minute meeting that sparked TechStars and its initial vision
    06:05 The first cohort of TechStars and how it was funded
    07:57 How the first fundraise went and the journey of moving from high net-worth individuals to institutional LPs
    12:15 Portfolio construction advantages of larger portfolios
    18:23 How TechStars was able to launch across geographies
    21:48 Common characteristics of successful founders
    30:05 What type of people they key on for hires
    33:02 How TechStars has maintained its culture as it has scaled
    35:29 Advice for people looking to start their own fund
    39:34 How portfolio companies are emerging from the TechStars programs
    41:56 The view on VC today
    43:35 How startups should approach their raises today
    46:33 The advice David gives to the GPs he’s invested with
    49:54 The TechStars Foundation and who it serves

    I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with David. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

    Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee Agency

    This is a public epis

    • 53 min

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