7 episodes

Learn from angel and seed investors bold enough to write the first check.

How do they decide which startups to invest in?
How do they gain conviction in founders and ideas?
How do they add value to their companies?

Shaherose Charania and Aamir Virani are operators turned investors. They chat with their friends investing in early-stage technology startups and learn about their strategies to fund the best founders and startup companies.

If you are an angel investor or seed investor, you'll hear how others operate.
If you are a startup entrepreneur, you'll hear how investors filter and decide on writing that first check.

First Funders Shaherose Charania and Aamir Virani

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 11 Ratings

Learn from angel and seed investors bold enough to write the first check.

How do they decide which startups to invest in?
How do they gain conviction in founders and ideas?
How do they add value to their companies?

Shaherose Charania and Aamir Virani are operators turned investors. They chat with their friends investing in early-stage technology startups and learn about their strategies to fund the best founders and startup companies.

If you are an angel investor or seed investor, you'll hear how others operate.
If you are a startup entrepreneur, you'll hear how investors filter and decide on writing that first check.

    05: Discovering hidden baseball talent to leading Sales at Stripe all applied to finding outliers in tech - Meka Asonye, First Round Capital

    05: Discovering hidden baseball talent to leading Sales at Stripe all applied to finding outliers in tech - Meka Asonye, First Round Capital

    Meka Asonye, a Partner at First Round Capital, started angel investing in 2018 while working at Stripe and joined First Round in 2021. He has made dozens of Angel investments and 13 Venture investments, and he's just getting started! While he focuses on B2B SAAS, he has not shied away from investing in audacious founders, from modernizing 911 call centers to putting the biggest satellites in space. Meka shares his approach to finding true outliers, a practice he began while uncovering hidden talent for the Cleveland Guardians. 

    Meka writes checks of $2M to $5M as the lead at pre-seed and seed.

    Highlights from the discussion:
    Meka's unconventional path to VC: from discovering high-potential baseball talent to leading sales at startups to VCMeka's first angel investment came from Craiglist!Exploring the frontiers: investing in Space and GovTechHow Meka supports founder friends, honestlyLeveling up in VC by learning from partners, retros, reviews, and reflection powered by process and data
    This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    04: 3x tech founder turned seed VC brings a founder mindset to startup investing - Amit Kumar, Accel

    04: 3x tech founder turned seed VC brings a founder mindset to startup investing - Amit Kumar, Accel

    Amit Kumar, former founder and angel investor, is a generalist venture capitalist at Accel focused on dev tools, healthcare, and fintech startups. Twitter acquired Amit’s third company, and it was then that he realized his true purpose was supporting startup founders, and he shifted to venture capital. Amit shares insightful stories and lessons learned from 8 years of early-stage investing out of a large, top-tier VC fund.

    Amit writes checks of $2M to $4M as the lead and first institutional seed investor. 

    Highlights from our discussion:
    How Amit frames venture capital as a long gameWhy Amit considers himself a “co-founder as a service,” and how that serves his startup communityThe right way to think about deal setup for successful early-stage investingWhy the problem slide in your pitch deck is most importantThis is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    Topics


    (00:00) - 04: Amit Kumar - Accel
    (00:16) - A startup idea seed investors will definitely say NO to (but maybe Shark Tank will take it)
    (03:35) - Amit Kumar - seed investor and First Funder at Accel
    (05:17) - Amit's Transition to Accel and the Power of Networking
    (07:38) - How Amit learned about angel investing - friends, conferences, and meetups
    (08:47) - What does it look like when a VC firm recruits you as a potential founder? Potential partner?
    (12:14) - Angel investing as risk diversification and knowledge sharing, especially for existing startup founders
    (13:56) - Venture capitalists can provide "co-founders as a service"
    (17:21) - How Amit chose between being a founder again and investing full-time
    (20:06) - Amit's first investment, and how past founder relationships build trust
    (22:23) - Startups that don't go public in 7 years - does that hurt your model and LP relationships?
    (24:11) - Conviction, not consensus - but what builds trust among GPs when startup investing?
    (26:30) - Startup valuations: Amit's venture capital POV and moving targets in 2024
    (28:37) - How does a large early-stage VC think about follow-on investments and the number of startups to fund?
    (31:57) - Taking bigger risks earlier
    (34:49) - How startup investors consider incumbents in a space when assessing competition and exits
    (36:24) - Headway, and what Amit has learned about identifying good startup investments in new markets
    (42:05) - How to think about thesis investing, conflicts of interest, and competing startups
    (45:14) - How Amit thinks about return profiles and seed investing today
    (48:08) - What founder and market signals does a venture capitalist look for?
    (50:39) - How to get on the Midas List - it's the fundamentals
    (51:47) - A movie you must see to understand venture capital and startup investing matters
    (54:15) - Takeaways from Amit Kumar's First Funder approach
    (01:01:18) - Outro

    Connect with Us

    Follow the First Funders Podcast
    Newsletter with behind-the-scenes access and key takeaways
    Twitter/X @shaherose
    Twitter/X @avirani
    Email us with feedback and suggestions on topics and guests

    • 1 hr 1 min
    03: Angel vs VC, finding purpose and community in startup investing - Rachel Sheinbein

    03: Angel vs VC, finding purpose and community in startup investing - Rachel Sheinbein

    Rachel Sheinbein is an angel investor with over 250 startup investments.  She shares her insights on angel investing and how it allows her to work with founders “even before the seed stage,” writing $25k checks into technology startups through her vehicle Very Serious Ventures.  Later, Rachel discusses how building a community drives her investing strategy and lessons from memorable startup investments.  Shaherose and Aamir kick off the show with a special message for founders who like to argue and end with their personal takeaways from the conversation with Rachel.

    Highlights from our discussion:
    Why Rachel chose angel investing over a partner position at a VC firmWhat to look for in a quality angel groupUsing a DAF to align with an investing purposeDetecting founder passion and coachabilityDefining your purposeThis is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    Topics

    (00:00) - 03: Rachel Sheinbein, Angel
    (01:14) - PSA: Your startup's users know more than Aamir the angel investor does
    (02:51) - Rachel Sheinbein, angel investor and advisor
    (04:56) - From engineering to venture capital to angel investing
    (07:28) - Do angel groups and angel networks provide value to startup investors?
    (13:23) - How Rachel aligns purpose and philanthropy with her early-stage startup investing
    (16:08) - Rachel's first angel investment was in a gaming startup
    (19:17) - Investor experience, startup luck, and Sequoia
    (21:49) - How does an angel investor like Rachel measure bad outcomes in startup investments?
    (24:53) - How angel investors operate differs from venture capitalists
    (29:47) - Pitch decks - do they matter when seed investing so early?
    (33:45) - Startup founder signals that matter to an angel investor
    (40:47) - A climate tech seed investment that paid off quickly and returned funds
    (46:39) - Very Serious Ventures angel invests $25k super early in founders
    (48:51) - An exercise to help you become a better angel investor
    (51:04) - Speed round, and the best book on strategy for startup founders
    (52:59) - Our takeaways on better startup investing

    Connect with Us
    Follow the First Funders Podcast
    Newsletter with behind-the-scenes access and key takeaways
    Twitter/X @shaherose
    Twitter/X @avirani
    Email us with feedback and suggestions on topics and guests

    • 1 hr 3 min
    02: 300 startup investments, 500 LPs, sharp elbows - Jenny Fielding, Everywhere Ventures

    02: 300 startup investments, 500 LPs, sharp elbows - Jenny Fielding, Everywhere Ventures

    Jenny Fielding, a pre-seed investor and angel with 300 early-stage startup investments, discusses investing in FinTech, hard tech, and consumer spaces over the past decade. From studying law to working in finance to leaving it all to found not just one but two startups, Jenny brings a founder-operator mindset to her fund, Everywhere Ventures. She writes pre-seed and seed-stage checks for $50k to $250k.
    Highlights from our discussion:
    Jenny’s first seed investment and its fast, huge outcomeHer simple evaluation framework for startup companies and their foundersThe way larger funds can screw early angel investorsEverywhere Ventures’ latest seed investment comes out of stealthA yearly ritual to become a better angel and startup investor This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    Topics


    (00:00) - 02: Jenny Fielding - Everywhere Ventures
    (03:07) - How does Shaherose know Jenny?
    (04:17) - Jenny's Journey into Investing
    (05:10) - Why did Jenny choose the investor side of the table?
    (08:27) - How did Jenny land her first investment (which went big!)?
    (11:02) - How does Jenny evaluate companies?
    (15:39) - How Jenny categorizes companies and check sizes
    (17:49) - How an angel investment went public and yet Jenny got nothing
    (25:18) - How does Jenny maintain authentic relationships while seed investing?
    (29:38) - Seed investors promise access to founders - does it matter?
    (33:39) - Jenny's successful seed investment in a Blockchain company - for real!
    (37:53) - Angel invest and chill? What signals help assess your investment early?
    (39:26) - How Jenny seed invests and then helps with future fundraising
    (40:46) - Using secondaries to generate returns and lower risk
    (44:18) - Pre-Seed fund return profiles - what's the goal and reality?
    (46:14) - Jenny and Everywhere seed invest in the "table stakes economy"
    (47:21) - What is the difference between pre-seed and seed startup investment rounds?
    (48:56) - Does valuation discipline matter for early angel and seed investors?
    (51:44) - Jenny's latest seed investment: Fora comes out of stealth
    (53:47) - Jenny's one trick to become better at startup investing
    (55:43) - How Jenny partners with Scott to make investment decisions
    (57:00) - Jenny's hot takes
    (58:21) - Takeaways from the interview

    Connect with Us

    Follow the First Funders Podcast
    Newsletter with behind-the-scenes access and key takeaways
    Twitter/X @shaherose
    Twitter/X @avirani
    Email us with feedback and suggestions on topics and guests

    • 1 hr 7 min
    01: State of Venture Capital 2024 with Arjun Arora

    01: State of Venture Capital 2024 with Arjun Arora

    We're all discussing current market conditions - valuations, AI hype, fundraising challenges... Before we kick off our planned interview series on First Funders, we sat down with our friend Arjun Arora to discuss the Trends in Venture Capital 2024. As investors, we always look ahead, making this a great way to start 2024.
    Highlights from our discussion:
    What to expect in round sizes and valuationsAnticipated returns from the AI hypeThe significance of data-driven decision-making for VCsThe rise of hyper-specialized fundsYou can read the full report here: https://www.arjundarora.com/trends-report
    This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    Topics
    (00:00) - 01: State of Venture Capital 2024 - Arjun Arora
    (00:49) - Guest: Arjun Arora on the State of Venture Capital 2024
    (01:24) - Arjun's Founder Background
    (03:03) - Format One and how they help founders
    (04:41) - Are Mega-deals only happening in AI?
    (06:07) - How should early-stage investors consider exit strategy?
    (08:02) - Is AI coming for venture capitalists?
    (10:36) - Social signals inform investors about founders AND teams
    (11:51) - Later-stage investors use prior investors as a signal
    (13:57) - Are crowd-funded companies legit investments?
    (16:01) - Do funds focused on a niche limit returns and increase risk?
    (22:25) - Don't go chasing Unicorns?
    (26:41) - Where's crypto and blockchain?
    (27:27) - Do founders want to do one-and-done raises?
    (29:17) - Can seed funds less power law, higher average outcomes?
    (31:45) - Will AI generate returns for investors?
    (33:35) - Advice for founders in this market environment
    (35:21) - Key Take aways: What we learned from Arjun's report for our own seed investing strategies
    (43:00) - Outro
    Connect with Us

    Follow the First Funders Podcast
    Newsletter with behind-the-scenes access and key takeaways
    Twitter/X @shaherose
    Twitter/X @avirani
    Email us with feedback and suggestions on topics and guests

    • 43 min
    About the Hosts: How they got into Seed and Angel Investing

    About the Hosts: How they got into Seed and Angel Investing

    Before you dive into our archives or the next episode, learn about First Funders and its hosts, Shaherose Charania and Aamir Virani.  
    You'll hear about Shaherose's background as a startup builder turned VC who started as a product marketer and how she started Women 2.0, a startup ecosystem, and Founder Labs, a tech incubator.  She also reviews her time at Nike, where she built their first incubator, and her role as an angel investor and now Venture Partner at Cake Ventures.
    Aamir then shares his experience as an engineer turned product management leader at Dropcam, which was acquired by Google/Nest, and then his turn as a venture capitalist at Felicis Ventures.  Why did he end up back as an angel investor and operator?  What types of investments does he look for now?
    This is for information purposes only. This is not investment advice.

    Topics

    (00:00) - About the Hosts and their Angel and Seed Investing backgrounds
    (01:13) - How Shaherose went from operating to building Women 2.0 to funding startups
    (03:26) - Aamir's Journey from Founder to VC to Angel Investor
    (06:06) - Outro
    Connect with Us

    Follow the First Funders Podcast
    Newsletter with behind-the-scenes access and key takeaways
    Twitter/X @shaherose
    Twitter/X @avirani
    Email us with feedback and suggestions on topics and guests

    • 6 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

A2zbuddy ,

Promising start

It’s only one episode but I appreciate how they are asking deeper questions and really digging into the angel investor mindset.

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