41 episodes

Host Bill Griesinger brings an informed, unbiased and unique historical perspective to the venture capital and high-tech world. Drawing on over 20 years in venture finance, working with tech companies and venture capitalists, he offers an unfiltered and transparent view of the venture capital & high-tech universe.

Distilling Venture Capital Bill Griesinger

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

Host Bill Griesinger brings an informed, unbiased and unique historical perspective to the venture capital and high-tech world. Drawing on over 20 years in venture finance, working with tech companies and venture capitalists, he offers an unfiltered and transparent view of the venture capital & high-tech universe.

    Episode 020 - 10Web; Tigran Nazaryan, CEO

    Episode 020 - 10Web; Tigran Nazaryan, CEO

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger
    Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  
    Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really interesting program for you b/c I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show Tigran Nazaryan, who is the CEO of 10Web, a   Tigran, thank you for making the time to be with me today on the podcast. I am super excited about today’s conversation after learning about the company b/c 10Web has created a really interesting business model and is changing the game around the area of Web design and hosting, and is doing that through automation of an old but very reliable tool and ecosystem many of us are familiar with have used, WordPress.   10Web has a very interesting history and story and what I believe is a huge addressable market.  Tigran, I thought it would be useful for you to provide us first, with some of your background, and then we can get into the interesting story around the origins of 10Web as a company Five years before founding the company in 2017, a small team of engineers were building WordPress plugins.  This helped you identify the biggest problems in web development, leading to the formation of 10Web.  With vision to create a platform for hosting for professionals and agencies.   We built an advanced, modern type of hosting technology.   Allows automatic creation of WordPress websites and powered by AI algorithms and neural networks.   We also created our own tools for optimizing websites We are getting a lot of momentum, growing really fast… Hear is a quote from a press release after your raised your Seed round last month where you stated, "Tens of millions of WordPress websites are built every year, and an average website launch takes 5 weeks!  We wanted to bring automation to WordPress development to facilitate and speed up this process," can you expand on this? Why did you choose WordPress automation as opposed to, say, building your own website builder tools? Tigran:  Old school platform, but WordPress powers 45% of all websites built.  It is really flexible and workable.  Yet, we found the experience of creating WP websites was really painful.  Flow is time-consuming and requires some deep knowledge where many web developers don’t go that deep. Our vision was to solve these problems for web developers.  Huge potential for automation because WordPress  Here is a quote from your investor at AI Fund;  “10Web has built an innovative, no-code solution utilizing artificial intelligence to automate website porting and creation.” (Perry Wu, General Partner, AI Fund) We spend greater than 2 years with a team of machine learning engineers to create the solution.  Not a simple undertaking. You use Google Cloud as infrastructure, why?   Tigran:  We use Google Cloud for hosting.  Clients’ websites are stored.  We also use AWS, MS Azure.   There is no fundamental difference between these 3 solutions, only difference is in details. Talk about achieving 90+ Google Page speed score. Tigran:  Page Speed score is a metric defined by Google.  Important metric.   Affects conversion, effectiveness of ads, for all web pages of the site.  Technically very challenging.  Not a single plug-in or solution.  Also, WP websites are not all the same.  Helps professionals streamline website development. We offer a full, complete, turn-key solution for agencies Discuss target market and go-to-market strategy.  Tigran:   Our current focus is on develpers, agencies and free-lancers You recently closed a $2MM Seed Round.  Where are you in terms of traction i

    • 33 min
    Episode 019 - EQUIAM; John Zic, Partner and Founding Member

    Episode 019 - EQUIAM; John Zic, Partner and Founding Member

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger
    Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  
    Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really fantastic program b/c I have the pleasure of welcoming to the show John Zic who is a Partner and Founding Member of EQUIAM, a San Francisco based firm that provides access to VC investments in a  John, thank you for making the time to be with me today on the podcast. I am really excited about today’s conversation about EQUIAM for a couple of reasons:  One, because it represents a true, analytics and data-based approach to investing in a basket of VC-backed private tech companies, and we’ll get into that; Also, b/c as a venture lender, the team I worked with spent many hours , days and years developing a risk assessment and risk rating model for the VC-backed companies we were providing debt commitments to. John, to begin the conversation, I thought it would be useful for you to provide us some of your background and then discuss how EQUIAM came to be… Talk about the early stages of creating this company because it’s not a new endeavor or venture, relatively speaking. Talk about the two Funds under management;  Recently closed (June 2021) the Private Alpha Fund of $50M – and you have the Private Tech 30 Fund that closed Feb. 2019;  Describe these funds and investment thesis behind them Why 30 to 35 companies in a Fund? Talk about the proprietary data-driven approach that EQUIAM has developed; not only for picking the companies in the funds, but also the ongoing evaluation and monitoring processes to make adjustments, including potentially removing an investment from the basket of stocks? Known as the Equiam Systematic Ranking (ESR), which applies a suite of proprietary algorithms to distill approximately 10,000 private companies and 10 million data points into a ranked list of approximately 30 investment targets. You’re CEO, Ziad Makkawi, believes the VC industry “should embrace the kind of AI tools it invests in.”   Expand on that… How are you able to get access to preferred shares?  What if you want to reduce no. of shares held in a co. in the Fund – how do you sell them? Use of secondary market platforms like Forge, allows EQUIAM to readily participate in private offerings of technology companies; access has not really been a problem overall… Forge used to be Equidate.  Forge is actually a minority shareholder-owner of EQUIAM, LLC According Makawi, CEO and Founder of EQUIAM, The business operates on the assumption that there is enough data out there on firms that can be analyzed and used to manage a portfolio of VC investments quantitatively. In the past, most people didn’t have access to the data or hadn’t put in the effort to find it.   We have taken a data-driven, risk-based approach to mitigate the froth that we see in the market right now;   e.g. Over-valued unicorns… Introduces a more tech-driven way of investing in VC deals.   Are you still accepting new investments in the Private Alpha Fund? How does the process work?  Accredited investors, minimum investment, etc? Potential to begin offering smaller investment sizes to non-accredited? Closing Remarks
    John, what is a good way for those seeking additional information about EQUIAM or perhaps have an interest in making an investment, get in touch?  EQUIAM website:  www.equiam.com Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found our discussion today with John Zic and EQUIAM interesting and it gave you things to think about regarding your ability to invest in

    • 35 min
    Episode 018 - Brian Requarth: CEO and Co-Founder, Viva Real in Brasil: Author of, “Viva The Entrepreneur”

    Episode 018 - Brian Requarth: CEO and Co-Founder, Viva Real in Brasil: Author of, “Viva The Entrepreneur”

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  Today, we have a really fantastic program b/c I have the awesome pleasure of welcoming to the show Brian Requarth – who is an entrepreneur and true veteran of creating and scaling a technology businesses in Brazil and LatAm.  Brian is the co-founder and former CEO of Viva Real, the leading real estate, property technology business in Brazil.  He raised over $74MM in venture capital for Viva Real.   He merged the company with ZAP Imóveis (owned by Grupo Globo) and became the Chairman of Grupo ZAP.  He later sold the business for $550MM He now invests in the most promising tech companies in Brazil and Latin America as an angel investor.  More importantly, he is dedicated to empowering the next era of entrepreneurs in the region.  Brian, welcome and thanking you for making the time to share your incredible story and journey on the program… This motivation to help entrepreneurs in the region is done in part, through his new company, Latitud which aims to democratize access to everything an entrepreneur needs to succeed in building a successful business in LatAm. And also through your new book, Viva The Entrepreneur – where Brian seeks to help demystify the obstacles you’ll face, teach what you won’t learn in business school, and offer you inspiration and encouragement on your journey. Viva The Entrepreneur is book where Brian shares lessons learned while building his company. He shows how to manage your own psychology and your operations, be it working with co-founders, building a culture, or managing a board of directors.  Brian also reveals the secrets of scaling a business and best practices for raising venture capital in Latin America. You will develop an understanding of the most critical parts of an investor term sheet, and gain perspective into the inner workings of the venture capital game. So, I’ve read the book almost in its entirety and really want to dig into some key takeaways that struck me as I read this amazing story…  We discuss Brian’s views on being “vulnerable” and willing to hear, accept and take advice you can act on.  Brian mentions he could not have built Viva Real to its scale and success w/o the partners, advisers and board members on the ground in the region. Brian thinks about vulnerability from the standpoint of your team and trust you can build. “A lot of entrepreneurs try to shoulder everything”… “reality is you need to share the burden with your founders and the rest of team.”  Key component to success Named Entrepreneur of the Year in Brasil.  Expressed it as the “best day and worst day, all in the same 24 hours.” Brian discusses formation of Latitud in Brasil in Sept. 2020;  Decided to “Scale my advice” for entrepreneurs and investors in the region. Initially, a growing community of founders;  organized cohort-based programs.  Eventually we’ll build a community of investors and talent.   Brian funded the costs of the foundation himself.  Aggregate talent and capital to founders and investors. “I didn’t have it”  - this type of support.  It’s why I wrote the book and formed Latitud. In this interview, you’ll find out why Brian is “bullish on the next decade” in Brasil and LatAm because there are so many customer experience challenges and problems to be solved. What sectors are hot?   Brian says, “pick a sector,” really!  There are so many that are consumer-facing industries where the customer experience

    • 42 min
    Episode 017 - JP Baric, CEO, Aurum Capital Ventures Cryptocurrency Mining & Energy Technology

    Episode 017 - JP Baric, CEO, Aurum Capital Ventures Cryptocurrency Mining & Energy Technology

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Hello again everyone.  Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the program one of my favorite guests, JP Baric, CEO and Founder at Aurum Capital Ventures, because he is my go-to source & expert in explaining and making sense of all things crypto;  BTC, crypto-mining, crypto-energy… JP thank you for coming back to join me on the show.    And to reiterate so that folks know, Aurum Capital Ventures is technology/energy company engaged in multiple aspects of the crypto-mining business. And we’re going to highlight a new Fund you’ve launched for providing exposure to crypto assets, called Lucid River Partners BTC’s Very Volatile Week:
    I would like to anchor the conversation initially with:   All that’s been going on in the news over BTC volatility and in crypto-asset category over the last week to 10 days; Recent price crash and negative commentary around crypto mining activity in general; Including effects of China’s announcements on banning mining, Elon Musk “poking the bear” on ESG concerns, and Jim Cramer, who gets it completely wrong, suggesting it points to the need for regulation of crypto b/c of “systemic” risk…blah, blah, blah JP, I know you’ll make sense of this for us and put it into understandable English!  What do you make of all this?  What are your initial thoughts, your take? Mike Novogratz CEO of Galaxy Digital chimed in with a short video providing some perspective and reassurance – I thought some of his comments were insightful: Mike Novogratz:  “The underlying progress that is happening in the BTC ecosystem, the ETH ecosystem and crypto in general is full speed ahead.   “This is not trading Tulips – this is trading a technology that is going to revolutionize how we transmit value to each other…” JP, what do you think?  Is Novogratz right about this? [Galaxy Digital/Galaxy Fund Mgt. - a full-service institutional player, with asset management, capital markets, and investment banking.]    
    Galaxy is well positioned to compete with Coinbase and Gemini around institutional funds, as well as with Fidelity on third party wealth management, as well as Grayscale on asset management. This entire business exists because of Mike Novogratz’ bet on crypto assets.
    Is Crypto-mining Eco-unfriendly?
    JP, I also wanted to spend some time discussing the energy use side of crypto-mining because, again, there is so much faulty information disseminated by folks in tech media and financial press that is just simply erroneous.   Many articles recently published are suggesting crypto-mining is not environmentally feasible due to the amount of energy used…and that this is unsustainable And China is often claimed to be a geographic center of concentration for BTC mining.  However, several bloggers and others point out this is not true at all… See Dec. 29, 2020 Forbes Article by Roger Huang, The ‘Chinese Mining Centralization’ Of Bitcoin And Ethereum Link:   https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerhuang/2021/12/29/the-chinese-mining-centralization-of-bitcoin-and-ethereum/?sh=25b14792f669
    Take-aways from Article:   The first thing to understand about this erroneous argument is: Mining pools command loyalty not based on geographic traits or even political ones, but rather, reward types, fees, and how the pool deals with bitcoin transaction fees. Mining pools might have a geographic base, but miners that pledge their hardware and their hash rate might and can switc

    • 43 min
    Episode 016 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series André Bastos, Co-Founder, Open-Co São Paulo, Brasil

    Episode 016 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series André Bastos, Co-Founder, Open-Co São Paulo, Brasil

    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world, including Fintech.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Today’s Episode is another in my Focus-on-Fintech Series where I provide you with a close-up look into the top companies in the Fintech sector that are bringing new innovations to the financial services market globally; In Today’s Episode, I once again highlight the hot FINTECH market in Brasil. I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the show, André Bastos, who is a Co-Founder and the Chief People and Strategy Officer at Open-Co, the largest Consumer Credit Fintech in Brazil. André, thank you for coming back to the show… André, the last time you and spoke it was October 2020 and the company was called REBEL.  After a merger of Geru and REBEL, which was announced just last month, you are now Open-Co.  But the REBEL and Geru brands remain under that umbrella… Tell us a little bit about this merger and what it means for scaling your consumer lending services business in Brasil; What is Open-Co? Geru and Rebel are both in the business of extending unsecured consumer credit, but your models are somewhat different, can you explain? A short time after announcing the formation of Open-Co, you all had another major announcement on the fund-raising side of the business; That being the closing of a $270MM credit facility, led by Goldman Sachs - very impressive  This announcement is on top of a Series C equity round with IFC and Goldman as leads, correct? Highlight your proprietary Credit Scoring Technology – Importance this played in building credibility with Lenders/Investors prior to your recent credit facility. I would love to dig into your recent post on Linkedin about the “Tony Awards and Open Co.”  I thought it was very creative, had great take-aways.  Can we talk about your thoughts, ideas and motivation for putting it together? It’s a great piece b/c it’s about lessons and what we learn from our personal experiences and how we can utilize those lessons to build our own leadership, mentoring skills, stimulate innovative ideas to improve the lives of others…and grow personally… You discuss your personal experiences in attempting to secure financing for your first home in Chicago; You even weave some Chicago history in from the Great Fire, to the 1892 World’s Fair, the rich history and importance of the Theatre in Chicago, focusing on Victory Gardens…and more; But mostly it was about learning from our experiences…and applying those learnings to improving our effectiveness and growing in the workplace The home page of your website begins with this statement; “The credit market in Brazil is one of the most dysfunctional and exclusionary in the world.  High default rates encourage traditional financial institutions to charge even higher interest rates, further driving defaults.”       And finishes the home page with this statement; “Open Co believes that the key to building groundbreaking credit products lies not only in technology, but mainly in building a relationship of trust with customers.   The time for expensive debts, bureaucracy and closed doors is over.    The future is now Open.” Historical Perspective Re Technology:  What a difference a few years makes!  I found this in my archive of articles from Dec. 2015 in TechCrunch regarding Whatsapp;   A judge in Brazil wants to shut down WhatsApp and Brazil’s Congress wants to shut down the social web next; WhatsApp was shut down for 48 hours mainly because the popular messaging platform had not cooperated in turnin

    • 35 min
    Episode 015 - Redpoint e.Ventures, São Paulo, Brasil Anderson Thees, Managing Partner

    Episode 015 - Redpoint e.Ventures, São Paulo, Brasil Anderson Thees, Managing Partner

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger; Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  
    Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  We have what I believe is a very interesting program for you today b/c I have the pleasure of speaking with a true veteran of the Brazilian technology investment landscape, Anderson Thees, who is a Managing Partner at Redpoint e.Ventures based in São Paulo, Brasil.  Anderson, thank you very much for making the time to join me today.   So, I labeled you a veteran in tech investing in Brasil because you’ve been at it for about a decade or so with Redpoint.  I think it would be useful to begin by telling the listeners about your background and experience and then how Redpoint eVentures came about. In today’s episode, Anderson will cover,  Talk about Redpoint eVentures’ development in Brasil; You have a Dedicated Fund in Brasil;  How does this help you and how does the affiliation with Sil. Valley network add value? Ability to bring not only funding, but Silicon Valley access and global best practices to local entrepreneurs. When was Fund launched and size of Fund? We were the first fund to raise more than $100M.  Fund we raised in 2012 was targeted at a $130M Cap.   We were over-subscribed at more than $150M but we needed to stay with the $130M cap. Huge first fund – much bigger than we expected The fund is fully deployed now; Macro economy tanked and the tech and e-commerce ecosystem  We have now three unicorns with another coming…  We raised another fund of $175M in 2018 which we are investing out of today.
    Investment themes – what types of technologies & deals do you look for? We think of our pipeline of investments in two ways; Proactive deal flow, our investment thesis;  Second is incoming deals that come to us But always tech-driven theme plus market must be big or will become big fast Series A and B we do, Series A is our core.
     
    Most important criterion is the founding team, especially the earlier we invest… How you approach deal flow and qualifying target companies;   Verticals, fintech, education, retail, SW B2B;   We do have concentrations in Fintech and SaaS B2B;  but this is mainly driven because of demand not due to our selection process
    Other:
    Regarding investment themes, I’d like to get your take on Insurtech and the opportunities you see there; you recently had a conversation with CQCS on this topic; Anderson discusses Insure-tech;  Insurance is actually larger than banking in terms of industry size and moving toward its own bucket in fintech; Cost of storing data, reduction of fraud, use of AI;  all affect the channels and deployment as well as how the very core product is developed and priced We discuss Rebel, now Open-Co’s closing of a $270M credit round led by Goldman Sachs What’s next for scaling fintech?  Your sense of advancements in access to financial services, the regulatory environment and macro trends?  Discuss partnership with Itau and creation of CUBO (Cube);  How did it come about and what is it? Does Itau co-invest in any deals with you? How does this partnership help you in Brasil? Closing Remarks:
    Anderson, thank you very much for joining me today on the program…It would be great to do a follow-up some time to get an update…
    Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found today’s discussion with Anderson Thees and Redpoint eVentures interesting and it gave you new insights into the Brazilian tech investing landscape.
    Anderson, what is a good way for those

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

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7 Ratings

stephen•ph ,

murkiness made simple and clear

Great VC explanations and advice communicated in simple and clear fashion. Includes references and further reading/viewing. Thankfully doesn't include ads; fluff; or long, loud guitar solos.
Bring us more please.

StarkMR ,

Powerful Tool for Entrepreneurs

One word. Wow. Mark King has quickly amassed a dynamic and diverse library of entrepreneurial wisdom...from raising and structuring venture capital to assembling teams and boards to recognizing critical market signposts, this is the new must have reference "podcast" for any early stage CEO looking to enhance their chance of success. bravo.

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