The Story Behind My Investment In Perlara

Almost two years ago, I met a founding team during Y Combinator batch. It was in a field I haven’t invested in before, but I have spent time in during a previous life and career. We met for coffee on the Embarcadero, and while my “life sciences lexicon” is quite rusty, I somehow managed to carry on an entire conversation and even (I hope) earned the respect of the founding scientists for being able to recall some of the core elements of why their company, Perlara, had a chance to make a big impact.

What was able to recall from my previous life in the world of life sciences? I remember that while traditional pharmaceutical companies needed to develop drugs to address large markets, a new wave of biotech firms emerged that would be able to more efficiently identify and serve less “popular” afflictions, often referred to as orphaned diseases. Continue reading "The Story Behind My Investment In Perlara"

The Story Behind My Investment In Optimus Ride

About a year ago, thanks to an investor friend who, in this particular case, shall remain nameless (but you know who you are, and thank you!) was kind enough to tip me off about a great team he met on the east coast but one that he couldn’t invest in. Often investors only take referrals from other investors if that introducing investor has invested him- or herself; here, this was a close friend, and it was a very interesting company. I’m glad I took the referral.

That is how I came to meet the team from Boston’s Optimus Ride. This week, Optimus Ride announced a large Series A investment led by Greycroft. You can read more about that news here. And, read this great piece by Xconomy on how Optimus fits into the landscape.

I was lucky to be involved in the seed last year, a round led by Continue reading "The Story Behind My Investment In Optimus Ride"

Podcast: The Backstory Of Raising Haystack IV (The Full Ratchet)

As my Podcast 2017 Tour continues, Nick Moran from Chicago’s The Full Ratchet was kind enough to have me on his show again a second time. Two years ago, I was a guest on The Full Ratchet discussing the intricacies of how seed-stage companies graduate to institutional Series A rounds. For version 2, in this episode, Nick and I dissect my earlier post on the process (and emotions) of raising a first-time institutional VC fund — I process I tried to capture in this post earlier this year.

The feedback to that post a few weeks ago has been deeper than I had imagined. Folks also listened to Harry Stebbing’s recent pod with me. And, they should listen to this one with Nick, too — Nick’s podcasts are longer (this one is about an hour) and Nick goes through every detail on his notes page. He knows the right questions Continue reading "Podcast: The Backstory Of Raising Haystack IV (The Full Ratchet)"

My Second 20 Minute VC Appearance: The Mechanics Of Raising A First Institutional VC Fund

About a year and a half ago, I had my first experience on as a guest on Harry Stebbings‘ famous podcast, The 20 Minute VC. In that older episode, we mainly covered the importance of individual and firm branding in today’s ecosystem. Fast-forward to today, Harry was kind enough to have me back again, and this time, as Harry is getting even better as an interviewer and expanding his own knowledge of the business (his brain feels encyclopedic!), there’s a fresh new episode with me on that was released today.

Click here to listen to today’s new episode on iTunes, or click here to listen on your desktop browser.

As the number of smaller VC firms seems to increase each year with no end in sight, Harry thought it would be interesting for his growing audience to hear more about the backstory of how a new Continue reading "My Second 20 Minute VC Appearance: The Mechanics Of Raising A First Institutional VC Fund"

“Leveling Up”

I have been emailing Haystack founders a bit more often with some stream-of-conscious thoughts, and many of them have encouraged me to publish them publicly. Below, I was thinking about how relatively easy it is (in the Bay Area) to raise a seed round versus raising from larger institutional VCs, and how that’s connected to my own experienced of raising small VC funds with individual LPs but then what I had to do to make the transition to an institutional capital base. Here’s the original email, to what I add a few suggested concrete tips for company founders to consider when attempting to make this transition.


Hello Haystack founders,

This a post for seed-stage founders only. It is not for founders who have gone on to Series A or those founders who don’t seek institutional VC dollars. As always with these emails, please delete, disregard, or ignore if not Continue reading "“Leveling Up”"

Notes From The 2017 Cendana MicroVC Summit

Yesterday, I attended my fourth Cendana Micro VC Summit in San Francisco. As I’ve done in years past, I wanted to briefly summarize how I perceived the mood of both LPs (the money source) and GPs (those who allocate to founders) in today’s current environment. [For a look back on my notes from previous years, click on either 2014 or 2016.]

Briefly, and in no particular order, here’s what I thought about in finding patterns from the panels and chatter:

1/ LPs seem more resigned to the fact that exits will take longer, perhaps never materialize. Think about that. After years of being on stage asking for quicker exists, the data has come in and unless someone holds an LP position in a fund with an outlier exit, these are simply really hard to come by and manufacture right now. It will be interesting to see what this implies Continue reading "Notes From The 2017 Cendana MicroVC Summit"

How To Transform A VC Fund Capital Base From Individuals To Institutional LPs

Lots of people have raised small VC funds. There are more startups, and there’s more LP capital from various sources to meet that demand. After the rise of institutional seed funds in the late 2000’s, we’ve obviously witnessed a pure explosion of new (mostly seed) fund formation, with seemingly no end in sight. Many of those 400+ microVC funds (sub $100M) are also trying not only get bigger, but also trying to convert their LP capital base from mostly individuals to mostly traditionally institutional capital. It’s a heavy lift to make that conversion. While I would never give advice on how to do this, as I’m still learning and each individual case is very different (each fund manager is his/her own special snowflake!), I can share a bit about how I prepared myself for it, how I launched my campaign, and how it all closed. My hope is that Continue reading "How To Transform A VC Fund Capital Base From Individuals To Institutional LPs"