10 episodes

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

    • Investing
    • 5.0 • 29 Ratings

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 009 - Fifth Wall's Brendan Wallace on building a different type of venture firm

    Venture Unlocked 009 - Fifth Wall's Brendan Wallace on building a different type of venture firm

    In just a few short years, Fifth Wall Ventures, which focuses on investing in companies in the “built world” economy, has quickly become one of LA’s largest venture firms with over $1.2B in committed LP capital.

    I met Co-Founder Brendan Wallace when he and Brad Greiwe started Fifth Wall nearly five years ago and the trajectory of the firm has been nothing short of astounding.  

    Brendan started his career at Goldman Sachs in real estate investment banking after graduating from Princeton. What’s always struck me over the years is Brendan’s unique vision on how he thinks about building a consistent alpha generating firm.

    In this episode, Brendan and I cover:

    How to manage a LP based with both corporates and financial LPs.

    Providing value add and driving synergies between his LPs and portfolio companies.

    Why the conventional wisdom that large fund sizes are a direct line to weakening performance isn’t always the case if certain characteristics are present in the firm’s model.

    How he thinks about developing and managing a platform that includes advisory, operations and investing.

    Why he doesn’t think the traditional venture model is well constructed for outsized returns at scale.

    How different type of fund products under one roof can drive cross-over value and improve return profiles.

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Fifth Wall

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversation with Brendan Wallace. 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.

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 48 min
    Venture Unlocked Episode 008 - Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures

    Venture Unlocked Episode 008 - Leo Polovets, Susa Ventures

    Leo Polovets is one of the Founding Partners of Susa Ventures, which launched in 2012. Over the last 8 years, Susa has established itself as one of the premier seed funds in the world, and have made more than 80 investments in companies like Robinhood, Flexport, Andela, and Expanse (recently purchased by Palo Alto Networks for $800MM). 

    Leo began his career as a software engineer, first at LinkedIn when it was a start-up, and later at Google and Factual.

    I always enjoy speaking with Leo as he’s always introspective, insightful and stays highly curious about all aspects of venture (check out his great blog, “Coding VC”).

    In this episode, Leo and I discuss the following topics:

    Why Susa had 4 partners for a $25MM fund.

    Leo’s acronym for building a venture thesis: C.A.S.H. (Constraints, Actionable, Special, Helping).

    Can VC firms truly differentiate, and if so, how?

    The importance of being helpful to founders and building those relationships early.

    Portfolio construction: Going all-in on one investment vs. many small investments.

    When to grow fund sizes, and how to think about this.

    The role of opportunity funds and why they raised one alongside Fund III.

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Susa Ventures

    Leo’s blog Coding VC

    Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s podcast, Invest Like the Best

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversation with Leo Polovets. 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.

    Please share Venture Unlocked with others who want to learn about venture capital:

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 38 min
    Venture Unlocked Episode 007: Sahil Lavingia's learnings as a VC backed founder and running a Rolling Fund

    Venture Unlocked Episode 007: Sahil Lavingia's learnings as a VC backed founder and running a Rolling Fund

    This episode is a fun one as I had the pleasure to interview Sahil Lavingia, founder of Gumroad, an online platform that allows creators to sell directly to their consumers. The company has facilitated the sale of $356 million in products since its launch in 2011 and now helps over 70,000 creators.

    Gumroad raised capital from legendary angels like Ron Conway, Chris Sacca, Naval Ravikant, and from distinguished venture firms such as First Round Capital, Accel Partners, and Kleiner Perkins. After a failed series B in 2015, Sahil was forced to lay off the majority of his staff and pivot his company building strategy to one atypical to the traditional venture model, but in the last year Gumroad doubled its ARR to $10MM.

    Drawing on his experiences as an angel investor backing companies such as Hellosign, Figma Design, and Lambda School, Sahil decided to raise his own venture vehicle and using the nascent AngelList Rolling Fund product, quickly secured $1MM/quarter in LP funding. Today’s he’s the most prominent AngelList Rolling Fund Manager with nearly $10MM of annual commitments.

    In this episode, Sahil and I discuss the following:

    Sahil’s start at Pinterest and how he applies his founder experiences in investing.

    His learnings from working with VC’s and his thoughts on what he believes makes for a great VC partner.

    Why he decided to go down the investment route, and what was it like raising LP capital through a Rolling Fund.

    Why founders may be more inclined to raise early capital from other founders rather than traditional institutional investors, and how Sequoia has created a savvy model to combat this trend.

    Thoughts on the early stage funding market moving forward.

    How he thinks about portfolio construction as a Rolling Fund investor.

    His hopes for innovation in the venture: Expansion of rolling funds, buyers and sellers being directly connected, and the breaking of the geographical privilege bubble.

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Gumroad

    My blog post on rolling funds

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversation with Sahil Lavingia. 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.

    Also subscribe to Venture Unlocked on Itunes to ensure you’ll get each episode when it’s first released.

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 40 min
    Venture Unlocked Episode 006 - Ted Maidenberg, Tribe Capital

    Venture Unlocked Episode 006 - Ted Maidenberg, Tribe Capital

    On this episode, we speak with Ted Maidenberg, co-founding partner of Tribe Capital, which he launched with his partners Arjun Sethi and Jonathan Hsu. I’m especially excited to bring this episode to you as Ted draws from experiences working within a Corporate VC (Time Warner), a traditional VC (USVP), and now has co-founded two firms known for their innovative approaches to investing —- Social Capital in 2011 with Chamath Palihapitiya and Mamoon Hamid, and most recently Tribe.

    Ted has also been part of investing teams that count investments such as Slack, Carta, and Survey Monkey.

    In this episode, Ted and I discuss the following topics:

    Starting Social Capital after the global financial crisis

    Starting and fundraising for a new firm (Tribe) in a very noisy market.

    The importance of trust in venture teams, the role of partnership dynamics, and maintaining culture.

    Their use of a data driven quantitative framework to evaluate companies through Cohort behavior and how this gives them an edge relative to heuristic only methods.

    The importance of getting ownership of a company early, and how it impacts reserve strategy.

    Their productized use of SPV’s in driving portfolio construction strategy, adding value to companies, and providing a unique return model for SPV and Fund LP’s.

    Are there any other innovations that can/should happen in VC?

    Ted’s advice for those that are just launching firms today.

    Mentioned in this episode:

    The Magic Eight Ball

    Social Capital and Tribe Capital

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversations with Ted Maidenberg; 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.

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 39 min
    Ep 005. Jon Sakoda: Build Your Fund With Founders By Your Side

    Ep 005. Jon Sakoda: Build Your Fund With Founders By Your Side

    Jon Sakoda is the Founding Partner at Decibel, a venture firm that was created in partnership with Cisco (but independent in nature) in 2018 to invest in early-stage companies.

    Hear how Jon, who describes himself as a “recovering entrepreneur,” started his first company, Imlogic, Inc. which was eventually acquired by Symantec, and then joined New Enterprise Associates (NEA) in 2006 where he served as a partner for 12 years. During his time at NEA, NEA clearly established itself as the largest venture firm in the world and had raised a $2.5B fund well before the current mega-fund boom.

    In this episode, Jon and I cover the following topics:

    Jon’s trajectory from being a technical operator to a VC.

    The bundling and unbundling of venture capital, and what we should see going forward.

    Do VC’s really add value? What leads to the belief by founders that they might not?

    The role of Cisco and how it helps them differentiate and punch above their weight in helping founders.

    How traditional economic LPs view corporate LPs and how GPs can navigate the discussions.

    What new GPs often underestimate when starting a fund

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Decibel website, and their partnership with Cisco.

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversations with Jon Sakoda; 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.

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 39 min
    Ep 004. Jodi Sherman Jahic : Why Alignment With Partners, LPs, and Companies is Powerful.

    Ep 004. Jodi Sherman Jahic : Why Alignment With Partners, LPs, and Companies is Powerful.

    Jodi Sherman Jahic is a managing partner of Aligned Partners, a Silicon Valley-based venture fund investing in early-stage, enterprise technology companies that are have a lean toward capital efficiency.

    Jodi has nearly 20 years of venture experience and started Aligned Partners in 2011 with her co-founder Susan Mason. A meticulous designer of market strategies and a fierce ally of entrepreneurial founders, Jodi is recognized for her thought leadership in go-to-market strategies. Aligned has raised a total of $125 million across three funds.

    Prior to co-founding Aligned Partners, Jodi led the wireless sector for Voyager Capital and was co-founder and Managing Director of SCG, a pledge fund headquartered in San Francisco focusing on capital-efficient investments. 

    Jodi was selected as an early Kauffman Fellow during her time at Battery Ventures. Previously, Jodi was on the founding team of three startups in North America and Europe, and she worked in the technology industry group at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). Jodi is co-author of a 2007 book on venture capital investing. She is also a proud founding member of All Raise, focusing on fostering gender diversity in venture capital and tech.

    In this episode Jodi and I cover the following topics:

    How working at larger funds motivated her to start a small fund focused on capital-efficient startups.

    How she and her co-founder discovered that they’d work well together and how managers should think about partner selection

    Her thoughts on portfolio construction and why they use a concentrated strategy.

    The market incentives and social pressure to raise a large fund, and why they are committed to stay small.

    Why it is critical to maintain transparent communication with LPs, and how they do it.

    What could threaten the modest gains in gender equality in venture capital.

    Mentioned in this episode:

    Aligned Partners

    Kauffman Fellows

    All Raise

    I’d love to know what you took away from my conversations with Jodi; 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.

    Get on the email list at ventureunlocked.substack.com

    • 34 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
29 Ratings

29 Ratings

New Space Rocks! ,

Foundational insights for any emerging manager!

I’ve been following Samir on Twitter for years and have deeply valued his unique access and insights. Venture Unlocked elevates Samir to the next level and further helps demystify venture formation. Keep up the great work!

Minnie_Ing ,

Educational and great listen

Samir gets great guests and draws out lots of useful insights.

Ro_Ro1 ,

Thank You - Venture Unlocked

About a year ago an outstanding Kauffman Fellow gave some advice @ the cost of a cup of coffee. Follow Samir’s content on Twitter and now Podcast. One of the best advice I’ve gotten in my professional career.

Samir’s podcast provides real world venture scenarios. Along with that a blend of venture academics, economics, social issues and a macro perspective of key players.

It’s a lot of fun listening in and look forward to many more podcasts.

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