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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 18, 2018

BVic Singh, Founding General Partner, Eniac Ventures


Our thesis in autonomy is quite simple — we believe that anything that moves will move itself autonomously in the future. This belief serves as the underpinnings of our investments in the first wave of autonomy — autonomous robotics — and its looming impact across large GDP sectors of the global economy.

Today, we are pleased to announce that we’ve doubled down on our undisclosed investment in Sea Machines to bring autonomy to sea vessels as part of their $10MM Series A, along with our friends at AccompliceToyota AI VenturesNextGen and others. Sea Machines rounds out our autonomous transport portfolio across air, land and now sea.

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December 11, 2018

By Nihal Mehta with guest author Dannie Herzberg, Head of Mid-Market Sales at Slack


We partnered with our friends at Emergence Capital for an event to address the many challenges navigating early-stage growth including when to make your first sales hire, how to qualify leads all the way to determining pricing structure.

We were lucky enough to snag Dannie Herzberg, Head of Mid-Market Sales at Slack, as our guest speaker. Her impressive background, overseeing Mid-Market, BDR & SDR sales organizations across North America and working across enterprise sales, sales management, and channel sales divisions, made her an excellent source for advice.

Dannie was kind enough to help bring the evening’s top questions back to life to share with the rest of our community.

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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.

December 4, 2018

By Nihal Mehta, Founding General Partner

The world is falling in love with “sexy” robot process automation (RPA) startups. Last month, UiPath raised a whopping $265M Series C at a $3B valuation — then just a day later, Automation Anywhere announced a $300M round from Softbank’s Vision Fund at a $2.6B valuation. And it’s no surprise why — the future of work is with AI.

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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 15, 2018

By Hadley Harris, Founding General Partner

Since we started investing at Eniac in 2010, I’ve reviewed thousands of seed stage pitch decks. It amazing me how often the most important slide — the team slide — is poorly executed.

When I posted on Twitter about how important the team pages are when reviewing a deck for the first time, I received a lot of questions and comments both on and offline. It seemed people were curious as to why it was the first thing we look at (versus the market and their solution).

I thought it would be nice to address it for everyone in one place.

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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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