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December 18, 2018

Seed to Scale: Episode 13 with Mark Suster, Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures

December 18, 2018

On current startup and venture ecosystem in LA, why the city embraced Bird and the challenges facing cities as we embrace the future of transportation.


Founding General Partner Nihal Mehta talks with Mark Suster, one of the very best VCs in the biz and a true pioneer of LA venture capital.

Mark is the Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest and longest-serving fund in LA – all the way back to 1996, long before the region became known as Silicon Beach. To date, they’ve invested in more than $1 billion, with about 50% going to tech companies from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Mark’s investments include Bird, Density, Imbellus, Invoca, MakeSpace, mitú, Nanit, Osmo, and Tact.

In this episode, Mark speaks to how his prior experiences influence how he approaches his work today. Most importantly, how his mother was his earliest role model as an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and activist, and how he got into programming on his mother’s computer while still in high school which lead him to become a computer programmer in the late ’80s (when it wasn’t as sought after as it is today). Mark discusses what he learned during his time at Accenture and how it laid a strong foundation for understanding how businesses operate at scale.

Mark speaks to the current startup and venture ecosystem in LA, and why more influencers outside traditional VC are becoming investors. He also addresses the future of transportation, including the rapid adoption of Bird in Los Angeles and what cities are doing to solve the many challenges.

He also addresses the current state of politics, something he covers often on his blog Both Sides of the Table.

December 10, 2018

Seed to Scale: Episode 12 with Shahin Farshchi, Partner at Lux Capital

December 10, 2018

On leading the deep tech boom & science vs engineering risk


Founding General Partner Vic Singh sits down with Shahin Farshchi, a Partner at Lux Capital, to discuss his path to venture capital, by way of Detroit, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and founding a company that stemmed from his research in wireless, vital sign monitoring.

Shahin speaks to how Lux spearheaded investments in science and deep tech when most venture capitalists were interested in adtech, cloud, and SaaS.

He shares the mistakes he made and lessons learned along the way, such as that time and money are grossly underrepresented when bringing a product to market and how important it is to build out a company, not just the technology. He also discusses the common mistakes investors make when “placing bets” on general themes and why Lux’s strategy is to identify amazing talent and let that talent drive you. He says, “We tend to find new investment themes at the fringes of our existing companies.”

Shahin gives advice for founders with backgrounds rooted in science or technical founders on the transition to becoming a CEO as the company grows and matures, and when it makes sense to help recruit a CEO that has the skills to take the company to the next level.

Lastly, he speaks to what it was like being a teenager in Iran and how it shaped his worldview.

November 26, 2018

On the inception of the world’s first female founder-focused fund


Founding General Partner Nihal Mehta sits down with Anu Duggal and Sutian Dong, Partners at Female Founders Fund, to discuss the inception of the world’s first female-focused Venture Capital fund, how they were set up on a “blind date” by Ed Zimmerman of Lowenstein Sandler and have been able to use their unique backgrounds and points of views to make strong investments.

In this episode, Anu speaks to risk tolerance and the challenges they’ve faced while fundraising and Sutian addresses the huge shift in the industry as female founders are securing more capital than ever. They also discuss building strong brand awareness and how collaboration across the VC community has been important to raising awareness for their fund and reaching the female founder community.

Sutian shares that Female Founders Fund has always led with the mission to be the first place that FF think of going to when raising capital, but also want to be instrumental in supporting female entrepreneurs even before they think about starting a company.

Lastly, see what #WWND means and why it hangs in their office, how they try to establish work/life balance and why they are excited about the rise of alternative communities.

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November 6, 2018

On “What is it that we actually want to build?”


Founding General Partner Hadley Harris speaks with John John Borthwick, the Founder & CEO of betaworks and long-time investor in the early NYC tech scene. In the past decade, John has helped hundreds of companies build products and scale — such as Giphy, bit.ly, Tumblr, GroupMe — and continues looking for ways to improve the model with each new company.

In this episode, John speaks to a recent blog post he published on “Building Bicycles for Our Minds” in which he addresses his perspective on why there is a significant lack of vision for the next wave of technology and what we can do about it as tech leaders and entrepreneurs before it gets worse.

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October 22, 2018

On the capital gap outside Silicon Valley, perspective on how founders operate businesses differently and advice to founders managing their board


Founding General Partner Tim Young speaks with Clara Sieg, a Partner and Founding member of Revolution Ventures. Clara has been featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Venture Capital and named LinkedIn’s Top 10 Professionals Under 35 for VC & Finance.

In this episode, Clara discusses how her hometown of Pittsburgh has evolved as a tech hub and how it has influenced her passion for finding and investing in companies outside of Silicon Valley. She speaks about the early days of Revolution and why they were one of the first funds that strategized around the opportunities in second and third-tier cities. She also gives her perspective on the growing ecosystems across the up-and-coming cities, local talent and how she leverages this to recruit and scale companies.

Clara shares her perspective on the mindset and unit economics of founders outside of the valley, how they operate businesses due to less capital flow and can think differently about taking on investments and dilution.

Clara also gives advice to founders managing and optimizing their board and how to make sure you get the best possible people around the table versus just optimizing for valuation.

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October 10, 2018

Advice to aspiring VCs and founders, his transition from angel investing to institutional seed, and what it was like in the early days of the micro VC movement in Silicon Valley


Founding General Partner Vic Singh speaks with one of the OG’s of seed investing and a Veteran of the Forbes Midas List, Jeff Clavier, Founder & Managing Partner at Uncork Capital.

In this episode, Jeff recounts his journey from a small town in France to studying in Paris and landing in the startup circuit as an engineer that eventually led him to angel investing in successful the Web 2.0 companies of the early 2000’s.

Jeff gives advice to aspiring VCs, his thoughts on what it was like transitioning from an angel to his first institutional fund and how the timeline for building credibility as an investor is very different today. He also speaks to the challenges faced as their funds grew, the best strategy to stand out to LPs and how Uncork Capital views co-investors.

He also speaks on his journey building hardware companies and how he saw the opportunity to apply the capital efficient model of software as well as his experience with Fitbit.

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September 26, 2018

On how they are disrupting the wellness industry, their unique road to Series A and the changing model of investor/founder relationship


Nihal Mehta speaks with the talented founders of Shine Text, Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi on how they’ve built one of the fastest-growing health and wellness companies. Working together at DoSomething.org, they realized the importance of daily peer-to-peer support and seized the opportunity to build a community to help others.

In this episode, Naomi and Marah speak about the early days growing Shine from 50,000 to now 3 million users and their approach to fundraising. They discuss the changing model of investor-founder relationship and how keeping an open dialogue led them to a Series A on Christmas Eve.

Marah and Naomi also touch on how millennials are dispelling the Baby Boomer Myth of being too broke to invest in yourself and the intersectionality of self-care and technology, especially how important it is today in response to what is happening in the world.

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September 17, 2018

On what makes an excellent board member, the biggest reasons startups fail and the three machines that must work together in order for a company to scale


Hadley Harris continues the conversation from last week with Brad Feld, Founder and Managing Director of Foundry Group. In this episode, Brad talks about the changing model of VC firms and how partners should be investing in each other in order to make the partnership and the firm stronger.

He also answers fellow VC Jeff Clavier from Uncork Capital’s question on what makes an excellent board member, as well as the biggest reasons startups fail and the three machines that must work together in order for a company to scale.

If you haven’t heard Part 1, make sure to subscribe and listen to last week’s show. It’s too good to miss: He discusses why it’s important to build long-term fund strategies, and gives his perspective on team size and geography. He also gives advice to himself looking back early in his career.

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September 10, 2018

He gives advice to himself in the early days and speaks to why it is important to build long-term fund strategies with conviction and consistency


Hadley Harris speaks with Brad Feld, Founder and Managing Director of Foundry Group. Brad has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987 and has authored several books on VC and entrepreneurship that are must-reads for everyone in the industry.

In this episode, Brad shares his perspective on why it is important to build long-term fund strategies with conviction and consistency.

Brad talks about one of his heroic figures, Warren Buffett, and how his thesis that everything runs in cycles applies to the cycles of venture capital.

Brad gives advice to himself back in the early days and compares Foundry’s strategy now against how he was investing in the late 80’s and 90’s. He also shares how team size and geography play a role at Foundry, and how he has configured his work and life in Boulder to enable him to work with startups through the country.

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August 28, 2018

On why raising capital should be a side effect of growth and the importance of finding the Magic Moment


Vic Singh speaks with startup triple threat Alex Iskold. As a three-time founder, investor in 90+ startups and engineer, Alex is passionate about helping early-stage founders build the next generation of companies and connecting entrepreneurs through a global network.

In this episode, Alex discusses the evolution of the semantic web, why he is bullish on blockchain for the enterprise and the new crop of personalized health startups focused on breakthrough technologies for health and longevity.

Alex also shares his perspective on how founders should approach fundraising, why he believes startups should stay scrappy and his advice for the Best Startup Hack.

Note: Just days after they spoke, Alex announced he is leaving his post at Techstars NYC after 5 years at the helm. The Eniac Team is excited to support him in his next venture.

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