Inside a Mega VC & University Entrepreneurship with Partner Peter Boyce II Partner at General…


This post is by MPD from @MPD - Medium


Inside a Mega VC & University Entrepreneurship with Partner Peter Boyce II Partner at General Catalyst

Peter Boyce II is a Partner at General Catalyst, one of the preeminent venture capital firms out there. General Catalyst makes early-stage and transformational investments while backing exceptional entrepreneurs who are building innovative technology companies and market leading businesses. Investments include the likes of Airbnb, ClassPass, HubSpot, KAYAK, Oscar, Snap, Stripe, and Warby Parker.

Peter is also a Co-Founder of Rough Draft Ventures, an organization that helps university students in their journey from creating ‘rough drafts’ to startup companies by investing at the earliest stage.

Peter and I discuss the way his firm operates, why it’s important to give companies time to develop, and how universities can better assist their entrepreneurs.

Special thanks to Peter for joining the podcast!

Follow us on Twitter @badboyboyce and @mpd

Listen via your preferred platform or watch/read below.

Transcript:

MPD: [00:00:45] Everybody I’m Mark Peter Davis, managing partner of interplay ventures. Today we have Peter Boyce on the show. He’s a partner at general catalyst, a very large venture capital fund based in the States. He’s also the founder of rough draft ventures, a program that helps student entrepreneurs. Peter is extremely well accomplished and has set himself apart from many of the VCs in the market today, he’s going to explain how general catalyst operates and what makes them unique, including the fact that they’ve won an Academy award.

He articulates how to improve entrepreneurship at colleges and overall, I think this is a fun one and made Peter blush at least two or three times during the show. I hope you enjoy.

This episode is brought to you by Bowery legal, barely legal provides a complete range of legal services to high growth companies that do everything from formation employment, partnership agreements, stock grants, corporate matters, and venture capital and debt financings. If you’re interested in learning more, visit Bowery legal.com.

Peter, thanks for being on the show.

Peter Boyce II: [00:01:49] Mark. Thanks so much for having me.

MPD: [00:01:51] All right. We have a lot to cover today, but before we get into general catalysts, venture capital and everything else, I want to hear a little bit about your story. Could we start off with where you’re from?

Peter Boyce II: [00:02:01] Totally. I grew up in New York in the city.

Yeah. You know, up in Washington Heights. Uh, yeah. You know, it, um, And, uh, you know, I’ve always been a little bit of like a, kind of a computer geek. So, you know, that’s, uh, been, been really nice to kind of carry with me through all these years. So grew up here, you know, I was like the physics, you know, summer camp kid, you know, I went to Stuyvesant high school, um, and you know, I have lots of stories I can tell you about, you know, fixing computers, the public library and all that jazz.

How did you

MPD: [00:02:38] get into computers in the beginning? What was the beginning of your tech

Peter Boyce II: [00:02:42] journey? Yeah, you know, honestly, the first thing I remember is. You know, I was lucky to kind of walk down the street once and I basically found someone, you know, someone had left like, uh, effectively, almost like one of these, like electronic kind of typewriters, you know what I mean?

Like the precursors to proper desktops, that’s such a unique story. I mean, honestly, and I took it home and I was kind of like, Oh my Lord, this is like, I don’t even know what to do with this, but I like it. You know what I mean? Like I like the digital screen and all that jazz. And then, you know, fast forward a few years later, I just remember getting our first desktop and I just, I remember.

The process of, you know, kind of putting it together and turning it on and using it. I just, it was, it was like, envelop me, you know what I mean? Like the rest is history. Like I was just fascinated with downloading new apps and, you know, all that jazz and it, it, it morphed over time, you know, it’s like, it went from, you know, the, you know, Limewire, you know what I mean?

And all that kind of, you know, bit torrent and all that jazz too, then. You know, modding, Xboxes, and then, you know, it kind of all spiraled from there where you power user or coder power user. Thank you for answering that. Yeah. I was power user growing up, ended up studying, you know, computer science, it’s dye and a little bit in college.

Um, but I’ve always just been like, it just fascinated by the, the tool and the utility. Um, you know, of, of, of computers and, and what technology does for us, I would say definitely, uh, definitely a power user. And I also loved the, just like the side project and hobbies. You know what I mean? If technology, like, I like building computers, I liked selling them to other people.

I like setting up people’s home networks and all that jazz. My first. You know, I’m not even sure I’d call it a business, but you know, I basically started like a little computer consulting business in high school. I called it computer services and it was literally just like helping people, you know, install new versions of windows.

You know what I mean? And like fixing home network. So

MPD: [00:04:44] think about being a founder. Is it sounds like you had a little bit of the entrepreneurial bone. Is that something you’d ever

Peter Boyce II: [00:04:49] contemplated? You know, it’s interesting. I’ve definitely that, that expression founder definitely came to me later in life.

You know, it’s like that wasn’t, you know, in high school it was more like, this is, this is my past and this is the way, I mean, yeah. I’m like working at the public lab, working at my school library, you know, I’m having fun with friends, learning a lot, just tinkering. Um, but I think now, you know what I mean, now it definitely feels a little bit more like that.

Like that was the, the spirit, you know what I mean? Just creating things, getting people involved, helping other people. Um, and I spent a lot of my time in college, you know, founding student groups and helping friends found companies. And so, um, you know, but, but again, it was that, that nomenclature really, yeah.

Later on for

MPD: [00:05:33] me now, Peter, I’ve known you for awhile. Uh, but I’ve done a little research on you for this conversation to get to know you a little bit better. Um, I think, uh, you’re a very driven guy, right? I think that’s part a big part of your narrative. Uh, and I know that might be a little embarrassing to have someone tell you, but it’s probably true.

There’s a, uh, a line that I caught on you, which is. You were taking math and physics at Columbia university while you were still in high school, what motivates you? I mean, that’s, that’s pretty, even if you’re capable of doing it, which is impressive enough, bopping around commuting the effort. What’s uh, what, what motivates a guy like you, uh, to do the things that you do?

Peter Boyce II: [00:06:20] Yeah. Geez. It’s a, it’s a combination of a few things Mark and I I’m, you know, blushing a little bit, you know what I mean? For sure. It’s on a blush that much, these days more before we’re done, um, you know, motivation for me. I mean, look, part of it is just curiosity and just internal fuel to just discover things and learn more.

Like I’ve just, that’s always been a proclivity of mine and I’m yeah. And I’m, I’m just, I, I follow it. You know what I mean? I don’t, I don’t reject it. You know what I mean? I don’t pretend it’s not there. I just follow it, you know? And for some folks that takes them into sports, journalism, you know what I mean?

But for me, it’s just reading physics, math, computers, you know what I mean? Like I just, I just followed it. Um, and I think I got comfortable, you know, with basically just pursuing that realizing like that’s who I was. I was like always the kid that kind of looked up at the night sky and it was just kind of like.

There’s something bigger. There’s something really interesting happening here. And you could spend a lot of time, you know, in life trying to discover what those things are and it would take you really interesting places. So I think that’s, that’s one, you know, that’s, that’s it, you know, a big piece of it for me.

Um, the second is circumstance, right? Like, you know, for, for better, for worse, I kind of came to the conclusion that education and pursuing educational opportunities to the fullest was how you created opportunities. Optionality. Um, and change your life. And it was under my control, right. I, I, you know, there’s some things that we can change.

There’s some things we can’t change, but I could certainly elect to not watch TV after school and schlep up to Columbia to get beat down. You know what I mean? Taking quantum mechanics with Brian Gray, you know what I mean? Like I can, I could choose to do that. Right. Um, So I think that’s the second piece that I’ve always put a huge premium in priority instead of importance around education.

I’m lucky that, you know, a fair amount of that came from, from my parents and just observing them and observing just, you know, the, the society we’re embedded in. So I think that’s the second piece. Um, and the third is I find all of this to be really fun. And I know, uh, you know, and it’s like in high school, that’s called being a Dick or whatever, you know what I mean?

Like, but I just, I find this stuff to be so fun. You know what I mean? Like writing equations for me in high school was like the time of my life. And now, you know what I mean? Like just working with founders and thinking about the future technology, I just, I love this stuff. It’s super fun and fulfilling.

So that’s the,

MPD: [00:08:54] a lot of people I think in the innovation economy find themselves lucky to actually like their job.

Peter Boyce II: [00:08:59] Oh, it’s a blessing.

MPD: [00:09:01] What’s the magic at Harvard, right? We’ve we’ve had increased credible entrepreneurs come out of there, obviously Zuckerberg and Gates Gates, and many, many others. Is there some secret sauce too?

The programming is done in the community is constructed or is it since it’s just one of the best schools out there that really great people go there and really great people do really great things. It’s hard. It’s Harvard can creating this or are they. Working with people who are predestined.

Peter Boyce II: [00:09:29] Yeah. Such a fascinating question.

I mean, I would start by saying, you know, I’m incredibly grateful for the experience that I had to study and be at Harvard because I don’t think you and I would be chit chatting today if it weren’t for that opportunity. So

I’m

MPD: [00:09:43] okay. I mean, hell you were at Columbia in high school, you would have been somewhere fun.

Peter Boyce II: [00:09:47] Totally true. I would have tried my best that’s for sure. So. But, um, but that gratitude and kind of, you know, recognition is something that I carry with me every day, but here’s, here’s actually what I would say. I actually think, you know, there are so many, so many campuses that have tremendous entrepreneurial excellence.

Um, and that’s one of the things that I spent a lot of my time dedicated to discovering, connecting and being a part of. So. You know, not, I, I’m going to trace back to getting to the core of your question, but I want to start by saying, I mean, some of my most favorite entrepreneurial friends and founder narratives came from campuses, you know, far and wide, you know, beyond the one where I was lucky to study for what it’s worth.

I spent my senior year founding rough draft to really connect those dots because I really wanted to kind of create a constellation of entrepreneurs across all these campuses, because. Whether it’s Columbia or Pomona or UT Austin, or you mish or MIT, every campus has these pockets of entrepreneurs. And w we just, we either tell their stories or don’t, and they happen at different volumes.

So that’s what I would say. Right? So, so the Facebook story, as a result of its order of magnitude and how, the ways in which the story has been told, there’s a strong association, but. You know, I mean, max Levchin and university of Illinois who talks about that, you know, not, not as much, but it’s like, you know, there are so very successful.

So many schools can, you know, engineer these really amazing powerhouses in our industry. So, but all that to say, I think it is a little bit of the, the, this kind of like this, like, um, I almost think of it is the admissions office has this opportunity to kind of create like, It’s like doctor Xavier’s, you know what I mean?

Like, you know, school for the special, right. And then I think there’s, there’s a little bit of that, you know, kind of magic that happens behind the scenes, you know? Um, but a lot of it is also just it’s serendipity it’s luck. Um, and I think increasingly today though, I think one of the things that I find very exciting is universities are spending more time coming up with ways to engineer more entrepreneurship.

And that’s something that if we were having this conversation 15 years ago, It’d be dramatically different. Like if you were a founder on a campus you were doing so by your own volition, right? Like now there’s classes, there’s communities, there’s competitions, there’s funding. So overall our net kind of, you know, output of founders across universities is rising and it’s, and it’s, it’s not isolated to any one, two or five universities.

So anyway, that’s something I could talk all day about giving let’s talk

MPD: [00:12:24] about it because that’s how I think we actually initially connected. Right. You were doing university entrepreneurship, uh, for those who are listening, who don’t know, I started the Columbia venture community for Columbia university and the Duke venture community for Duke university.

And I think you were running, um, some of your entrepreneurial outreach at university levels. And we had connected through that. I think very early on, uh, in your career, I’m a little bit older than you. Um, Unfortunately a lot older than you getting really old. Uh, but no, we, uh, I think we had connected on that.

You have gone far beyond what most people have done, what I have done on the university side. Right? So you did the work at Harvard. I noticed you’re also involved with some programs at Northwestern MIT. You’ve got the rough draft ventures program, which I’d like you to actually give everyone the headline and what that is.

But there’s a, there’s a bigger story around university entrepreneurship where I think you are. Helping to build a launching pad for people around the country. And I think it’s worth hearing and I want to grab some lessons out of it. So first, do you mind giving a little overview on rough draft?

Peter Boyce II: [00:13:30] Yeah, totally.

So this is, you know, I’m in senior year bucket list mode and I’m like, I’ve got one, one, one last year to make another impact, um, where I can on campus and to the points I was sharing earlier. I was just super excited about this opportunity to find the other pockets of entrepreneurs on other campuses.

And I had known something with them, um, and there are other incredible things, communities that I was a part of that were getting started, like interact and others that we’re starting to connect the dots, but it’s kind of like, wow, it would be really great. If, you know, number one, we create a community, these founders across all these different universities.

Number two, it would be great if we could provide them their first capital, right. Their first resourcing. Right. Again, back to the humble beginnings piece that we touched on for a little bit. I mean, Mark, I don’t know about you. Not everyone has a, you know, uncle that’s going to come out of the woodwork and write the 25 K check for them.

No, they don’t. Right. Not everyone has that. God bless those that do. That’s awesome. But if you have a great idea, huge ambition, you know what I mean? And don’t want to, you know, bury your, you know, kind of family and credit card debt and you know, all that jazz, like you should be able to access resources to take a chance and start a business.

And I can go on and on about how and why the risk curve for entrepreneurship, for folks of all different socioeconomic backgrounds needs to change. And the ways that we can influence that. But this is the way that was super apparent to me, the first check. Um, and then the third was w what would happen if you.

Built a set of just mentorship and resources, you know, around this, not as formally structured as a program, like an accelerator where you have a finite period of time and you physically go somewhere, but you know, like just, you know, how do you get access to the playbook for, for company creation? How do you get those lessons, uh, that are, you know, uh, I’m very glad now they’re in.

Great proliferation. But like, if you were, you know, when you think about like, you know, Nate from Airbnb, you know, starting his first companies, you know what I mean? When he was on campus, there wasn’t, you know, structured mentorship programs and blog posts, you know what I mean? Illuminating the way. So they’re still kind of area to contribute there.

So anyway, all that to say that was the, the, the founding thesis for rough draft is, you know, how to deliver on those three things. And so I was very lucky to co-found it with the team at general catalyst, you know, I spent. More of my senior year, I think hanging out in the office and working with the team at GC closely to get this up and off the ground.

And we started in the Boston area. And since then, you know, we’ve expanded across the country, across schools and, um, how many schools

MPD: [00:16:05] are now in the program. And can you give some bullets on what the program does? Yeah. I mentioned first check, but

Peter Boyce II: [00:16:11] yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I mean, you know, with rough draft, it’s, you know, it’s funny, I think about not to be morbid, but I think about.

You know what my, you know, tombstone, you know, might read. And honestly, I just, I’m so lucky and I feel so privileged that I think so much of it would read in about just the impact that we’ve had with rough draft. Just because I think at the end of the day, some of these companies may or may not have existed at all.

Like in this version of the universe that we live in, right. Like folks could have taken the job at Palentier or Facebook and Google, and instead they took a chance. They got together with a friend. So. Anyway all that to say. So the model is we recruit a team of student venture fellows from across the, uh, across our universities where we work.

So this year we’re working in a distributed environment. We’ve had the most veteran fellows we’ve ever had, you know, we’re not meeting up in person. So we now have 50 venture fellows from across the centuries. So, I mean, from Duke to Stanford, I mean, everywhere, it’s just, it’s incredible. So we’re taking advantage and leaning into it.

You know, some of the things that you can do in a distributed environment that we couldn’t do before, because before it was nice to get everyone together in a room to chit chat about companies. So, so we have these incredible venture fellows and they are the native connectivity to these entrepreneurs on their campuses.

So the founders that they’re, you know, their, their classmates, they’re their best friends. They’re, they’re S you know, fraternity and sorority sisters and brothers. So. Anyway, empowering them to find ways to support the founders in their ecosystem. That’s what rough draft is about. So we write initial checks anywhere between 25 K and $250,000, it’s going to help get these founding teams into business.

Uh, we connect them with mentors. We connect them with other sources of capital, and we also create this sense of community across the founder. So, so one of the things we find is. You know, when you connect to all these communities together, all these founders together, there’s, cross-pollination, there’s introductions made.

There’s co-founders that are found, you know, we’ve hosted events where, you know, literally like two folks find each other, build a company I’m just kind of like missing, you know, engineering that, so, so yeah, we’ve back now, you know, well, over 250 companies, um, and we’ve been super lucky to see, I mean, I mean, I I’ve lost track, you know what I mean of how many.

Jobs have been created by our portfolio companies, but I mean, you know, it’s, it’s been, you know, effectively, you know, billions of dollars, you know what I mean, of enterprise value, hundreds of millions of dollars, you know, raised and, um, and, and the per, so getting started, you know, it’s still nascent, so, um,

MPD: [00:18:44] yeah, the venture fellows, do they have the control over the investment decision-making or do they bubble it up to you and the team, uh, to evaluate, how does that work?

Peter Boyce II: [00:18:53] Yeah. You know, this is, this is something that’s really important. I think, you know, I anchor a lot of the decisions around my, you know, talk about aging and starting to lose one’s memory, but I anchor a lot of our program around, you know, the experience that I and other students had on campus. Right. And so I think a big part of that is feeling empowered and enabled.

Um, and so our venture fellows work, you know, in so many ways to, to lead into the discovery efforts, you know what I mean, to the founders that they’re going to work with. Um, and it’s really, you know, I play a mentorship role. I advise, I help ask questions, you know what I mean? But the real, the ethos and the spirit and the magic and the energy comes from empowering and enable our venture fellows.

Um, and so that’s, that’s the model. That’s what we do. Um, and one of the other things that I would say. That’s powerful. That’s emerges these venture fellows, you know, ended up going on to be founders themselves or their partners at venture firms. You know what I mean? Like they just kind of go off and do great things in the community.

Um, and so we stay connected with them that way too.

MPD: [00:20:00] So one of the things, when I hear this model, I’m thinking about this is a great social service, a great way to empower entrepreneurs, a great way to educate the next generation a great way to level the playing field. Does it generate returns when you’re investing in by large people who don’t have a lot of business experience?

Has it been a profitable venture?

Peter Boyce II: [00:20:21] Yeah, it’s funny is where, you know, when folks say, you know, kind of follow your passion, you know, and everything else will, this is w this is one of those, right? So you could have you use that as like a stumbling block to basically prevent a concept from like, like this ever coming to fruition.

Right. And you’d be totally justified in doing that. I mean, we have portfolio companies that are, again, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s billions of dollars of enterprise value that’s created. I mean, I think that the thing that I would highlight and underscore here, and this is one of the things that drives me is, um, young people and early career entrepreneurs can do so much by leveraging a few of their key advantages.

Right. So when I think about specialization, Oftentimes you get unbounded imagination. Right? So Patrick and John Collison had unbounded imagination around how to rewrite, you know, the financial infrastructure of the internet. They didn’t need to work at visa or Amex or anywhere else to get exposed to that unbounded imagination.

In fact, chances are, you know, had they worked at those places, they would have had bounded imagination. Right. So anything they would have created may have been incremental, right. And that works in certain environments, enterprise software. Great. I worked Oracle for 10 years. This thing needs to exist. I’m going to go.

But sometimes, you know, to have like something that feels like just totally like net new for society, oftentimes just unbounded, imagination, and creativity is what gets it done. And you have as a student, right? You have that. Um, so, and I’m, I’m like obsessed with being around. Like I get chills. When I, I get the sense that someone has that, you know what I mean?

Like that’s, that’s what kind of keeps me going. So that’s one, two is, you know, access to these ridiculously, you know, high quality, high integrity recruiting networks, right? Like, I mean, you can literally, you know, assemble a team of your smartest friends and smartest engineers. You know what I mean? And you can do so in ways that are very fluid today, right?

Like you can discover those folks. And now it’s like, With Slack and all these other communities in discord and others. I mean, there’s, there’s even more connectivity. So I think the barriers to team building, you know what I mean? It’s kind of come down and I think there’s special advantages to students because they know how to self-organize, they’ve got mailing lists, they’ve got all these communities, so that’s the second piece.

Um, and then I think the third, you know, for what it’s worth is, there’s a, uh, how do I put this? Um, A humble and openness to learning. And self-improvement, it’s something I look for in every entrepreneur that I have the privilege of working with and something that I try to, uh, embrace and adopt myself.

But when you’re constantly learning from your professors from, you know, from founders that you meet on the internet and from, you know, YouTube videos that sponge like, you know, learning machine dynamic is available too. 16 year olds, 20 year olds, 50 year olds, a hundred year olds. So, so it’s available to all of us and because it’s available to all of us, the folks that choose to take it on and over-index and overinvest in it can go a tremendous way.

And now that there’s that much content and learning and best practices and entrepreneurship, I mean, I’m waiting, you know what I mean? For the, the, the billion dollar companies that are going to be created by 16 year olds? It’s not, it’s not an, if it’s a wet. So anyway, All of that to say, billions of dollars of enterprise value created with a rough draft portfolio companies.

And these entrepreneurs that start out as a students are, I mean, they are world-class. I think

MPD: [00:24:02] that the program is magnificent. And even if the answer to my question, I’m going to ask you again, is no, I think it should exist. Oh, let me say that. Let me, let me, let me, let me put, hold your feet to the fire and you put a dollar in a rough draft ventures.

Are you up? Yes.

Peter Boyce II: [00:24:16] Okay, great. You’re you’re in a good spot.

MPD: [00:24:18] Trust me. Great. I love that because that’s what I hope. Right? You want to believe that, right? Cause you want, you want the math to draw more capital to support that program. That program is more than just returns. It’s training the future.

Peter Boyce II: [00:24:34] Mark. I think that’s right.

And this is like, you know, life gives you, you know, only so many win-win wins. You know what I mean? This is, this is one of them and we’re going to see. More universities get involved here. We’re going to see more venture funds get involved here. There already is a history of that, right? Like I think why C and pear and other programs have done a great job backing, incredible young people early on.

Um, you know, I think there are going to be, you know, an order of magnitude, more case studies like Patrick and John, you know, and HubSpot and snap and FA we can talk about. You know, how and why there should just be so much more of that. Um, I think it’s really, really exciting. It’s been a big part of our identity and success in DNA at GC and at other venture firms.

And so, um, and I think you’re just going to see more universities, you know, getting involved and encourage and kind of connect the dots on this too. So, um, this is not going away. Entrepreneurship is a lot of universities

MPD: [00:25:35] are trying to figure out how to invigorate. Entrepreneurial communities. I feel like this really started after Oh eight.

Everyone was trying to find a way to weasel their way into wall street, get their students and to get the big paying jobs. Cause it helped all the stats and then wall street collapsed and it’s come back. But I think, I think a lot of the universities woke up and realized they needed to diversify while wall street was recovering and I started hearing Oh, nine entrepreneurship was every campuses, new mission.

What tips do you have as a guy who’s actually made it work? What tips do you have or people who are running programs at universities, what should they be doing to create the type of right environment to support people, to give people a chance?

Peter Boyce II: [00:26:21] Yeah. You know, it’s something I’m, I’m a perpetual student, you know, of, of our industry.

And I learned so much by, you know, seeing what’s working, what’s not working and trying to experiment. So, you know, any answer. That I would share is the product of, you know, seeing, you know, incredible universities and venture firms do things and paying attention to what seems to be working. What’s not, and then running my own set of experiments and trying to contribute to this.

Um, and I’m excited that, you know, in 10 years, my answer is going to be out of date and executed on, which is great. Um, so that’d be great. That’s going to be important.

MPD: [00:26:53] That’ll be better for the whole country in the whole world. Yeah,

Peter Boyce II: [00:26:56] no, it’s. You know, uh, finding ways to enable young people to define the future technology, is it that’s, that’s, that’s our opportunity, you know, and, and it’s, it’s shown incredible results so far.

So, um, but here’s what I would say. I, you know, in terms of kind of, you know, structured and engineered ways to enable, you know, kind of greater kind of entrepreneurship, it leads to, you know, really big ideas and interesting company creation. I think first and foremost is creating classes and curriculum for air cover.

For folks to enable the time and have an environment where they can have that air cover to work on their companies and work on their ideas. This is something, you know, you, I mean, I would love to see a time series of, of, of curricula. You know what I mean of different computer science, uh, and in other programs, I mean, some universities just, you mean 20 years ago there wasn’t.

You know, in intro to CS class that had more than 10 people in it. Right. So, so I think that’s one. So, and, and that’s something that universities have control over like remarkable control over. And of course there’s always, you know, complexity or are we gonna, you know, are there going to be finals in this class or not?

But, you know, I would look at symbolic systems at Stanford as just a. Case study for just, you know, Hey, by the way, structure it, this way, the team from Instagram is going to get what they need. You know what I mean, to build, you know, a platform like that.

MPD: [00:28:20] Everyone knows symbolic systems at Stanford. Can you give the one-liner on that

Peter Boyce II: [00:28:24] just as like, um, you know, it’s interesting cause you know, I it’s been, it’s been awesome to see the alumni from some of these programs, but Suboxone systems, is it, is it kind of a course of study at Stanford that takes in lots of elements of computer science, product design?

But also just, it’s almost ends up being like a, a method of design thinking, um, that has academic rigor and pillars, but it’s wildly applicable to company creation. And so, so I, I like, you know, that that worked because it feels grounded, you know what I mean, in a structured environment, but when you get into kind of application mode, you know what I mean?

In some of the classes where you actually get to translate things into startups and projects and products that you build. You know, all of a sudden it goes from clash project to company. Right. And I think that’s, you know, big set of the companies that I’ve been lucky to invest in my career so far started out, looking like class projects started out as class projects and they ended up translating and graduating to full-blown companies, companies like, you know, Mark 43 and others.

So. So that’s, and I list that as an example, you know, at MIT, there’s the founder’s journey. This is a class where they inviting practitioners. You know what I mean? To consistently basically inspire entrepreneurs and kind of unfold the path. Um, um, and you know, one of my colleagues Heymont on, you know, taught that class for a number of years at MIT, and that’s how he, you know, connected up with the team at Stripe.

And so anyway, I would start with the curriculum cause that’s, that’s within the realm of influence and I like starting there. Hmm, second really quick. I’ll try to believe. But, um, the second is actually, I’ll give you one more, just ten second case study on this, which is, um, I think there’s often a lot of anxiety to have a very unstructured class that doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of formal paperwork grading, you know, formality, and it’s going to turn into like the easy a class or whatever, but there are so many ways to structure the selection process for the class.

Um, but if you can give folks that time, you know what I mean? That they’re covered and I’m sure the

MPD: [00:30:30] administrators meet that concept with resistance because it’s just not the way things are done. But I think to your point, the air cover a great phrase for it to get people time and space to actually tinker.

Yeah. That’s what it

Peter Boyce II: [00:30:42] takes. Super key. You know, it’s super key and I I’ve got personal, you know, Experience with this, you know, we had, you know, uh, you know, classes, you know, we had an engineering science class at Harvard that was, you know, it was effectively the startup class, you know? Um, and I got to work on all different, you know, kind of ideas related to venture capital and startups.

So, um, anyway, that’s really important. I think that the second piece is the, really the, the on campus, the student groups, and like, what is the. The connectivity that’s taking place between students. Cause I think that’s where a lot of the energy also comes from. So enabling supporting these student groups, you know, just, I think universities, I mean, and that’s one that comes, you know, bottoms up and top down, right?

So students can basically identify the need. Hey, we should have a venture capital group or Hey, we should have a computer science society. And then, you know, administration university resources can see that. And help build it up. So, Hey, we’ll call some of the alumni to give, come back and be speakers for you because that’s, you know, one great alumni speaker can make all the difference.

You know what I mean? I definitely had my mind short-circuited when we had, you know, Dustin Moskovitz, you know, from, from Facebook and, you know, he was just getting a sauna off the ground. I definitely had my mind short-circuited by spending time with him and just seeing the examples, you know, the, of his kind of impact in technology.

So. So I think that’s the second piece. So finding the way that student groups and the university can meet and amplify each other, I think that’s really important. The third is the, is the summer opportunities. And I think you were getting to this point too, which is a number of universities have had infrastructure that, you know, nicely connected Goldman Sachs, you know what I mean with Wharton?

Right? Like it just there’s that funnel. Right. But office of career services is still undergoing a transformation. And I think. Finding ways to really accelerate and amplify, you know, just the ways to connect the dots, to create those experiences is really important because whether that’s, you know, an experience in venture or startups, like, or at a larger, you know, established technology company, this can make a world of difference.

And so that’s where I’ve, it’s been exciting to see startups like way up in our portfolio and handshake and others have kind of acted as third party companies and major league hacking. You know, as another good example, they connect engineers from across campuses with great summer opportunities, um, and hackathons.

And so I think an even stronger embrace, I think of some of those resources, um, and that’s, that’s very much taking place on campuses. I find that very encouraging and that’s something I’ve loved seeing and contributing to. And we actually created a program, you know, at GC, um, a few years ago, that was basically.

Connecting great young engineers, you know, with, with some of our portfolio companies and just, you know, the success stories that come from it are just are well worth it.

MPD: [00:33:41] Peter, you’re an incredibly structured thinker. We’ve talked a few times. It’s more obvious now, cause we’re, I’m putting you on the hot seat here with all these questions.

Um, how organized are you as a person overall? And I’m asking this for those who are listening, not watching behind Peter is a bookshelf. Color-coded by book, you’ve got white books, red books, yellow books. Is that been an instrumental part of your success, even though it may be something you’re not thinking about?

Where does organizational skills play into the path forward for success?

Peter Boyce II: [00:34:15] Yeah, that’s a really fun question. Um, I think the top level is it’s important. I think to have a system that works for you, right. And for some folks that. You know, you should see my desk. You know what I mean? My desk is a different teacher, right?

Disaster. Are

MPD: [00:34:29] you like a zero inbox guy? What’s your,

Peter Boyce II: [00:34:32] I am. Yeah, I am. But I think it’s about finding systems that work for you. Right. And so for me, you know, I’ve, I’ve always been like an, I’ve always been a note taker. Right. So, you know, you were, you know, and, and it’s been awesome to see the evolution of tools, you know, and, and note taking, you know, You know, I use notion for my written notes, um, or excuse me, my digital notes, I should say.

Um, these air table for indexing relationships. Um, I use good reads for indexing books. I use a physical book for jotting things. I was going to say, do you use paper? I don’t use paper. Oh yes. I’ve got a stack, a notebooks here. Wow. Do

MPD: [00:35:13] you ever go back and read them? I see people write all the in these books and it’s scribble.

There’s no way, you know what page you wrote something. I never going to find that information it’s gone. Right?

Peter Boyce II: [00:35:21] So boy, uh, too wasted to waste. You’ve dressed this number one is this, this is going to sound weird. So, you know, this is like, you know, everyone writing and reading have always had a distinctive positive feeling to me.

And so I would do it. If you told me at the end of my notebook, you know, you were going to burn it. I would still take the process of populating. Cause the feeling for me is, is, is positive. And it’s always been with me. I like had these like lists from like when I was a kid and all that jazz. I just craft graph, paper, lined notebooks, all that jazz.

So that’s one. But two is, I actually think the ability to process information, you know what I mean? Like it’s just, it’s, it’s totally leveled up when you do the notes. You know, whether it’s written, I think written is a little bit more impactful and effective in terms of memory recall, but I mean, I also have a, I have a tough time remembering things and there’s nothing that has, you know, higher fidelity and integrity, so to speak then like, Oh my gosh, I actually wrote that down.

I don’t have to. Did I say that? Did she say that, you know what I mean? I actually indexed it. And so, and I do have a little bit of a routine where I, I do periodically review my notes. I’m also like a big decision journal person. So like when I make decisions around investments, I love capturing, you know what I mean?

Like the moment, because it’s so easy to rewrite history, you know what I mean? You could, Oh, Oh. I always knew that industry was going to be D be a big deal and Bubba, Bubba, but it’s like, Well, do you actually have the notes to prove it?

MPD: [00:36:54] So have you gone back and been hard on yourself because you knew something and you passed on it or you made a stupid bet.

There’s so much regret in the venture industry, right? Because if you’re in the game, we’re in and you’re seeing lots of good opportunities, you’re not doing them all. And everyone that gets away, you feel horrible about how do you go back to the notes, reinforce that? Do they give you peace of mind?

Peter Boyce II: [00:37:20] Yeah, it’s honestly, this is, and I’m sure this is going to change for me over time.

And I love this. I love this question and thinking about this, because I think what I, there’ve definitely been times where I’m just ridiculously hard on myself and I’m just kind of like, geez, Louise, you know what I mean? Like, should it pushed a little bit harder, further up a blah, blah, blah. Um, I think the thing that I find solace so to speak is distilling the learnings so that hopefully in the future, it doesn’t happen again.

Because we can influence the road ahead of us. And if we take the time to actually distill the learnings from the past and ensure to equip ourselves, you know, this is why I love the idea of having like a very robust and organized and structured process around thinking about your anti-portfolio, you know what I mean?

And you know, Charlie mongers, you know what I mean? Like the, you know, the errors of omission, like I I’m I’m I fundamentally believe that that’s really good sources of learning. Not the shame and the guilt and the emotional part, which definitely, you know what I mean? Like, especially earlier on in my career, I was like overwhelmed and flooded with that.

You know what I mean? I was like, Oh my God, how did I not do that? Um, but just distilling the key learnings and just keep going. Cause hopefully, and this is my hope. They compound the lessons compound over time. You know what I mean? And there’s going to be an ever abundance of opportunity, you know, it’s just like, Can you be prepared and try to recognize it the next time you’re there and it’s never going to be perfect.

So do

MPD: [00:38:51] you have any tactics or skills? This is something I’ve struggled with over time for letting go of the regret, getting out of the rut when you fucked up, because when you’re playing a volume game, you’re going to make mistakes, right? We all do them. How do you forgive yourself? How do you let go and focus on the future?

What you just said. Your methods sounds fantastic. I think it’s very hard in practice.

Peter Boyce II: [00:39:16] No, I, I trust me and I, you know, again, I’m an ever student and ever practitioner and ever imperfect to, you know, I’m like, I’m sure there’s a tremendous amount that I can learn from you, uh, in your career, in this process.

Um, the things, and I’m always trying to absorb and learn from seeing what’s working for others. Um, The things that have worked for me. So this is, this is going to sound a little unusual, but it’s like I have to try to get a right on the people. I think that the most profound pain that I’ve felt is when I got it wrong on the people, or I didn’t follow through on my passion and conviction on the people.

So that was a discovery for me. Um, you know, for what it’s worth, because I find that. Markets change technologies change, you know, you’re a team and they’re exotic. Yeah. They’re all these exotic as factors. You know what I mean? That you just can’t control, but you can pick the people. And I think people, um, can get better with time and they can compound and improve.

And I love that and I don’t have any regrets of being in business with incredible people, for which things didn’t work out. I have no. So that’s one set that I just have a raced. You know what I mean? I just, I just. You can, you know, you can predict, you know what I mean, that market was going to evaporate, no harm, no foul.

MPD: [00:40:39] You can forgive yourself if they were the right people for the people listening. There was a business school case study I did in my venture capital class, just taught by a few, uh, VCs here in New York. And they gave you three companies that were anonymized and one had an incredible technology or a barrier one had a great market when had a great team.

And a lot of detail on each one. And you’re supposed to read all three and pick one that turns out all three were real companies that were massive successes, massive public companies. And they’re trying, they’re trying to force us to suss out what type of investor we were going to be. So when Peter is saying he’s a team investor that is a category of VC.

When you get a bunch of VCs in the room, even on the same, in the same firm, You’ll have a team investor, you’ll have a market investor, you’ll have different profiles, different lenses that people look through. Totally. So, okay. So we switched to general catalyst. We’ve talked about the firm a couple of times through this, but I don’t know if everyone knows it.

I mean, it, it is one of the predominant institutions on the East coast. It’s a phenomenal firm. Uh, guys are involved with tons of great deals. Uh, can you give a little overview of general catalyst for listening?

Peter Boyce II: [00:41:49] Yeah, absolutely. GC is a firm founded in 2000, initially headquartered in Boston that in the last 20 years is expanded to New York Palo Alto, San Francisco, $8 billion under management, and is a venture firm that is dedicated to backing in incredible companies that want to have an enduring positive impact.

And so that’s. That’s the ethos and the core of GC. Um, we do everywhere from early stage to later stage investments. And the, and the goal is to be able to meet founders wherever they are in their journey of building and scaling their company. And so that involves seed investments that involves a hundred million dollar investments, and we invest across the spectrum of industries.

Um, so whether that’s healthcare, financial services, consumer, and so. You know, the team is, I mean, I couldn’t have been more lucky, you know what I mean, to find a group of folks to, to learn from, and to work alongside and to be, be partners alongside. So, um, so that’s a little bit about GC, you know, we’re, we’re lucky to be investors in Airbnb and snap and lemonade and Stripe and, and companies like RO and, and a number of others.

Um, and again, I think that the common theme and the common goal is. Define entrepreneurs that want to build injuring software companies that have a positive.

MPD: [00:43:10] Now, is there a way you guys could involve firms? A lot of capital will often invest, put more weight on larger investments. So series B, C D rounds, or there’s other firms out there that will try to do every dollar into the company at every round, because that’s the only way to put the money to work.

So they’ll try to grab it at the a. But not syndicate. Do the whole bead do the whole SI not syndicated for everyone. Listening is when you have a bunch of other investors participate in the investment with you. Is there a model that GC uses to manage $8 billion? That’s a fairly large sum of capital for a venture firm.

Peter Boyce II: [00:43:47] Yeah. You know, we work in, in teams and we collaborate across stages and. To be honest. I wish I could tell you that there was one particular method because I don’t think founders, you know, would fit into that recipe and fit into that equation. Um, but what we do do is, I mean, we have a very healthy, you know, set of investing across all these different stages and increasingly all across geographies to meet these incredible founders where they are.

So. Um, and we like to be collaborative. We like to be collaborative, not only internally where we, you know, we all just, you know, there’s there, isn’t, you know, territorial kind of fiefdoms and, and politics and all that jazz, which is easy to, to have a merge, uh, amongst the partnership. Um, but we also love collaborating with other firms.

Right. And, and, and sometimes, you know, that takes place in the context of seeds of co-leading and seed investment, you know, with, uh, with another firm. Not being, you know what I mean? Uh, you know, sharp elbows, like that’s, that’s an, that’s a concept, you know, that I think about all the time, which is you can choose to have sharp elbows and be near-term greedy, but what that does to your relationships, your reputation and your longterm returns, I think ultimately, you know, becomes a little bit conscious, not a long game.

Right. And I think the second piece is, you know, it it’s. Founders, you know what I mean, want to, and get to choose who they work with. Right. And so, so I think it’s very easy to think, Oh, like, you know, venture investors get to make all the decisions, but it’s really, at the end of the day, a founder gets to choose, you know, what collection of people, what brand, you know, what they want to be associated with.

And so. We, we, we meet, you know, those, those founders and when it makes sense for us to do the entire round or part of the round, you know what I mean? Like we work with them, but I would say, and each of us also has I think, different styles, right. I, you know, for what it’s worth, I love syndicating, you know, and opportunities.

Cause I think two heads are oftentimes better than one. Right. And it’s just, I think working together with other venture investors that you respect and admire and like to work alongside. What are the things you do is you just get into a rhythm of, of collaborating and co-investing together and you work on basically making the pie so to speak or the opportunity, the overall opportunity size bigger than it would have been on your own.

Right. That’s that’s what constantly goes through my mind. Um, and so that’s where, you know, a number of the investments, you know what I mean? I’ve made have just been alongside of them. How did, how does the

MPD: [00:46:13] team get segmented? Are you guys segmented by stage by industry, by geography? And, and what, what, what, uh, sub segment do you fit into?

Peter Boyce II: [00:46:22] Yeah, well, you know, I I’m, I’m easy, you know, I’m. Supporting founders of the earliest part of their journey, you know? So that means, you know, pre-seed through series a, right. So I want to be the first, you know, the first partner to, to

MPD: [00:46:39] draft and everything you’ve done.

Peter Boyce II: [00:46:40] Exactly. So I love that. Um, and for me, I’ve got a little bit of a geographic flavor just because, you know, I care tremendously about New York and the East coast and.

It’s where I grew up. It’s where my network and relationships. It’s where I walked down the street, bump into people and realize, Oh, I should catch up with them. And that leads to an investment. So, so that serendipity, um, comes from a certain amount of density in network connectivity. Um, and I also think about just building up more technology ecosystems, right?

Cause I think, you know, to use weather, you know, you want to use San Francisco or another ecosystem, I think. Every city, you know what I mean? I think should have, you know, as thriving and vibrant a technology community, cause that’s, that’s the world we’re going to inherit, you know what I mean? And it’s only a matter of time.

And so I’ve really enjoyed playing a very small, small, small role and just seeing New York kind of build up and compound and the way that it is now. So, so I’ve got that, you know, I’ve got a little bit of that hometown, you know, kind of pride going on. Um, but to answer your question, I mean, we. Want to get the right group of folks in front of any founder.

You know what I mean? That, that makes sense. So that cuts across to your point sectors.

MPD: [00:47:52] There’s gotta be some sort of structure within where someone they know their job description is there they’re East coast growth or there there’s gotta be some sort of orient. It’s not chaos within the walls

Peter Boyce II: [00:48:03] and PC.

Certainly not chaos. No, no, no. We have, we have practices. We have strategy practice groups, and so. Seed early stage growth and endurance, you know, those represent basically all the stage as a company can go through. Um, and

MPD: [00:48:19] then I’m sure you have pools of capital allocated to each and, and,

Peter Boyce II: [00:48:22] and more importantly, we also have individual investors that spike and are passionate about and have a point of view around different areas.

So linked stage consumer, this person has a tremendous amount of, of, of knowledge and expertise. Early stage enterprise Televiv you know what I mean? So, but it does end up being, and that’s why I say we end up working across these groups though, because you may have someone with incredible FinTech expertise that typically is doing, you know, more growth stage investments, but they’re definitely going to have a point of view on an early stage idea.

So that’s where we do some remixing. You know what I mean? And that’s where a little bit of the alchemy kind of happens to get the right subgroups together.

MPD: [00:49:04] What has set GC apart from other firms, when you think about what makes the firms special, and everyone has an answer that’s different for their firm.

What is GCs unique angle position, secret sauce, but what is it for you guys?

Peter Boyce II: [00:49:17] Yeah, you know, I have to answer this in the way that I’ve felt through my, you know, eight years, uh, at GC. Um, this collection of people is profound. And it’s gotten better with time and it, it, it gets better, you know, every, every year I think it starts there.

I, you know, and I, I know, you know, as cliche or trivial as that answer may sound, but at the end of the day, capital is a commodity. And increasingly, so in our industry, it’s about the people that you work with, you know, and it’s not as trade as, you know, do I want to have a beer with them, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

It’s like, I’m going to be interfacing and collaborating with this person for 10 years. If I’m a founder, right. It matters a lot to, to pick the people. I think the, the, the group of investors and our partnership with GC is just incredible. And I think the part of what. Brings that together and stitches it together as just this reminder of like what we’re in service of.

I think there’s this incredible service mindset that our partner tensional, you know, echoes and amplifies and is really, I think the stitching in all of us, which is we’re in service to LPs we’re in service to founders. This isn’t about, you know, any one of us, this isn’t just about returns. It’s, there’s an actual service.

I mean, You know, scholarships are actually going to, you know, take place. You know what I mean? At, at, at, at really important philanthropic institutions by doing this work and founders are going to live their dreams and have an impact in the communities that matter to them because of this work. And so I think that’s the, those are the two, um,

MPD: [00:51:06] I like that language.

We think of the venture business as a service business. And when, when you have that mindset, you start treating everyone like customers. Uh, I, I think it gives the firms a chance to thrive. So I really, that language resonates with me personally. Um, how do you see GC evolving? Are you guys it’s a big ship at this point?

Is that, is this the destination?

Peter Boyce II: [00:51:31] No, you know, it’s, it’s interesting. I, when I, when I think back, so I joined the team to open our New York office. Right. So it’s to talk about kind of, you know, evolving and evolution, um, Cause I was just, I was, you know, it was super clear, you know, that GCs ambitions, you know, were, were worldwide.

Um, and I wanted to be a part of helping and contributing the way that I could, you know, I’ve got my, I’ve always had my little Metro card, you know, ready to, ready to go. So, um, and you know, it’s interesting collect on that moment a lot because I got a lot of conflicting advice from, from mentors and from folks they’re like, Oh my gosh, if you want to do this for real, you have to go to.

XYZ city, you know what I mean? Blah, blah, blah, blah. But I was like, Hmm. Now New York it’s it’s it’s, it’s definitely, um, going to be if nothing else personally fulfilling, but now looking back it’s, it’s, you know, it’s turned into such a powerful ecosystem. So, uh, and so many cities, you know what I mean, or are going to transform and are currently transforming, which I’m excited about.

Um, so I would say, I mean, we have. I mean every year, you know, we run a set of experiments and pilots and do things new. There is no qualms or concerns, you know what I mean about that? You know, saying, Oh, Hey, this is, what’s worked for us in the past. So we have to keep doing it. That’s not, that’s not the way the organization works.

So every year it’s iteration expansion, just huge, huge, huge, ambitious. You know, I think even in the last two years, I mean, a lot of what I described to you didn’t exist. And then eight years ago, you know, it’s just, you know, we didn’t have these offices, we didn’t have this. Team, we didn’t have all these strategies.

And so the firm’s constantly evolving and I’m, I’m super grateful to play my little part with rough draft and with New York and seed investing, you know, but the firm is, I mean, it’s, it’s definitely, I think to your point in order to meet founders as our customers, where they are, we have to diversify and constantly evolve the offering, right?

Because the second the offering becomes stale. Right. It’s just, that’s that’s, that’s not, that’s not going to work. Um, so anyway, constantly, you know, huge. Now

MPD: [00:53:35] one interesting, interesting thing about general catalyst that I think I have, right. Tell me if I’m incorrect. It’s probably the only venture fund that has an Academy award.

Is that correct?

Peter Boyce II: [00:53:49] You know, boy, that, that strikes me as correct. Um, No, you know, we’ve got, I, it comes back to the people, you know, our partner, you know, David Fiaco, you know what I mean? It’s just a, can you tell the story

MPD: [00:54:03] on that? Because I think I know the story, but I probably have it wrong and I think everyone else would like to hear it.

Yeah.

Peter Boyce II: [00:54:08] His, you know, David is one of the rarest people you’ll meet. Uh, he’s a big part of the reason why, um, I think many of us chose to be a GC. Um, and he’s been an incredible mentor over the years. Um, Yeah, I have this memory, you know, basically sitting with him at the Crosby street hotel and he’s like, Hey, did you read the, you know, the cover of the New York times?

I’m like, not yet. Yes. It’s like seven in the morning, you know, which is these have a breakfast at the Crosby. I’m like, I. Got up, did my thing and came here, I’ve read that. And most of his work on, on Icarus, the documentary about the, you know, basically the Russian kind of just doping scandal, um, around the Olympics and said, knock them out of the

MPD: [00:54:49] Olympics, that documentary.

Peter Boyce II: [00:54:51] Yes, exactly. And so anyway, that, that, you know, the, the punchline is, you know, there was a fair amount of time where there was a lot of news and honestly just like impact and outcomes. You know what I mean? Not just an incredible piece of. Of a film, right. Which is just, I mean, incredibly illuminating, but actually there were, you know, kind of, you know, ramifications for basically improving the.

You know, the sportsmanship and the conduct. And so anyway, that’s, that’s the story. And you guys did the firm

MPD: [00:55:18] funded, or your partner wrote the

Peter Boyce II: [00:55:20] check. Dave is David Fiaco special. You know,

MPD: [00:55:25] it is. So it’s his Academy award, not general catalyst. But I think you need to have it in the halls of the office, because that is a shocking, random element.

Peter Boyce II: [00:55:37] We’ve had it make appearances at our office, our portfolio companies.

MPD: [00:55:42] Yeah. And it’s not just a movie, it’s a movie that had historical consequence. People haven’t seen Icarus. It’s a documentary. I watched it on Netflix. I don’t know if it’s still on there, but uh, very fascinating worth a watch. Um, now, if I’m not mistaken, you interned at bad boy entertainment earlier in your career.

Good Lord Mark. If that sounds conversation, we might need to delve into, uh, and, uh, if I’m also not mistaken for folks who want to follow Peter on Twitter, he is bad boy Boyce, and that is his handle. Is there a relationship between the internship and the handle? And we are blushing for our third. Yeah.

Peter Boyce II: [00:56:20] Geez, Louise Mark. I got to tell you, I mean, Uh, this is like one of my like dinner table, party conversations, you know, because I’m like normally a pretty straightforward, boring, like I like to read and, you know,

MPD: [00:56:32] traveling with usually put bad boy in physics in the same like same conversation.

Peter Boyce II: [00:56:38] Nope. Most folks don’t know.

I did bookshelves. Yeah, no, I did. I love hip hop. I love music. Uh, I grew up, um, you know, kind of fascinated by the careers of folks like notorious PAG and biggie and, and, and, and the work that, you know, bad boy in, in, in did he, hadn’t all of that. I was fascinated by it. So it’s actually, you know, for what it’s worth, I made my handle when I was working there, you know, I did, I had it.

I had a project related to Diddy’s Twitter accounts. Um, And lo and behold, you know, I was like, Oh, I should probably test things out on my account before I, you know, started playing around with, uh, with a good handle. You can’t drop it now. No, no. I’ve had the opportunity to, you know, be Brandy. Yeah. But it’s, it’s, it’s always, you know, it, it’s fun because, you know, I’ll get a, an email or something.

Someone will say, PS, love your Twitter handle. And it just kinda. That’s great. I mean, I have other folks that

MPD: [00:57:41] tell me, you got to have a little fun. You can’t be professional every minute, you know? Exactly. Yeah.

Peter Boyce II: [00:57:45] Trust me

MPD: [00:57:47] to this a little bit through the conversation and we’ll let you off the hook on the Twitter handle.

Um, you’ve looped, you’re welcome. You’ve alluded to this a little bit through the conversation, and I think it’s a macro trend that weren’t you and I are not the only people seeing it’s the atomization of Silicon Valley. All the innovation was happening there and very little, anywhere else until probably about 20 years ago.

And it feels like it’s materially accelerating now, particularly with COVID work from home is changing it where we don’t need to be co located in the same 50 blocks to access capital access, talent, build great companies. You’ve talked about New York and then you brought it to the East coast. We’re hearing a lot of talk about Miami right now.

And for those who are listening, I’m a new Yorker. And I’m building the New York ecosystem, but invest nationally. Right? What is the trend we’re seeing? Do you think it’s permanent? What happens to Silicon Valley? Where does all this go from your lens?

Peter Boyce II: [00:58:47] Yeah. So first off I would say there’s a book called the rainforest that I think is a really great read and it’s basically unpacks fundamental units and properties of.

Ecosystems of, of, of professional ecosystems. Uh, and I think it does a really great job of distilling the necessary ingredients or like the, the, the, the ingredients that basically create for a thriving, you know, um, technology ecosystem. Um, and th there’s nothing in that, that, that, that, that precludes any city becoming a technology ecosystem.

There’s just, there’s, there’s nothing there’s no, you know, um, and in fact, if anything, I like. I like I’ve loved this book, uh, among others, but you know, I think anyone that, you know, read this, you know what I mean? It was playing a partner industry. Could basically bring some of those insights and some of those lessons and start re-engineering their environments in whatever city the art is to encourage and foster and accelerate.

I think it’s, uh, the way I think about this question, Mark, because I think about it a lot. It has to do with its timeline. It has to do with time. It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of what. Right. San Francisco has a head start. That’s the way to think about it. It’s not, you know, it’s literally, like, I think it’s just an example of just, you know, a different part of the timeline.

And every city I think is going to get there to some varying degree, should they want to, and should the people in those communities want to, right. Um, you, uh, we, we came to do this in New York. You know what I mean? Like we, we grew up like, this is what we’ve wanted to do. Um, so I’m hoping that we’re. Doing something to, you know, basically accelerate that timeline.

Right. Um, so anyway, I’m, I’m really encouraged because I think, you know, technology, communities and cities, you know, that embraced the fact that this is our future are going to be healthier. You know what I mean? They’re going to be very productive, you know, it’s where people are going to be generating their livelihood.

Right. And I think we’re seeing, you know, the last year has been a forcing function on this, but it’s, it’s been tried and true for. No years, many years before that, you know, you can build really successful companies and venture firms in many, many, many different places. And yes, there are certain starting advantages and certain densities that you can take advantage of when you’re in one of these ecosystems.

But I think we’ve we’ve to your point, we’ve seen that that can be many places. So I’m, I’m excited for more folks to basically raise their hands and say, Hey, we’re going to will this into existence. That’s what’s taking place right now. Right? Like I love it. Great. Let’s will it into existence, Austin, Texas.

Let’s we’ll do existence. Awesome. I love that. Um, I think that, you know, there are for what it’s worth, I think important things to trace back to in terms of thinking about what are some of the elements though that, you know, maybe harder influence or maybe kind of harder to engineer or they’re going to take longer time.

And that’s where I think folks, you know, maybe are, or are not paying enough attention to. And this is where I go back to university ecosystems, having a dance university ecosystem or being one of the flight path, so to speak where great university talent flows, I think is crucial. Right. I mean, that was crucial for, uh, you know, putting Boston, you know what I mean, into, into business?

I think it’s crucial to New York having, you know, great universities like we do here. Um, I think that that’s going to be, I think one of the interesting elements too, is just, you know, who are the communities and cities that are going to do bold, interesting things to say, Hey, Oh my gosh, like, you know, start your career with us.

And there’s certain lifestyle questions or lifestyle aspects of some of these cities. You know, my

MPD: [01:02:25] name is families where they’ve had families, right? They want to, they want to have a career where they’re family.

Peter Boyce II: [01:02:29] Exactly. You know, family temperature. You know, real estate prices, all that jazz, but it leaves me interesting to see.

I think that’s one of the ones that I’m, I’m excited about too, because I think there’s like this awesome opportunity for like an open call to be like a router. You know what I mean? Like route into our city, you know, to get your career jump-started um, I think companies can play that role. I think venture firms can play that role.

Um, but it’ll be exciting to see.

MPD: [01:02:54] That’s amazing. I believe it’s a global phenomenon at this point. I’m very encouraged to see, um, the whole. You know, mankind transforming for sure. Better, better innovation cycles.

Peter Boyce II: [01:03:06] Absolutely. I was just distributed. I was just down in, in Columbia, you know, just, uh, just a few weeks ago.

I mean, the innovation that’s taking place in Boca thigh and Midean, I mean, the companies like Rappi, you know, that are scaling and growing and they’re going to create, you know, a, a wave of, of entrepreneurs that want to go and start their own companies. Cause they all learned at one place. And so

MPD: [01:03:28] I love it.

I love it. And on that note, I’d like to flip it a little bit and ask you a question to help everyone listening, learn. What is the most important advice you can give to an entrepreneur at this point? And you haven’t been in the entrepreneurial hot seat, but you’ve supported a lot of folks seen a lot of stuff.

Probably learned a lot through osmosis through the things your partners are experiencing. If you could give some nuggets of advice that maybe people haven’t already heard, what would you

Peter Boyce II: [01:03:57] offer? You know, and I’m glad you, you kind of, you know, set the context that way. Um, cause I’ll, I’ll perpetually be learning on this front.

Um, There are, and we don’t need to talk about the, you know, the failed startups that I was a part of in college, you know, neither here nor there. Um, but

MPD: [01:04:16] I have a longer list than you,

Peter Boyce II: [01:04:17] my friend. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I think, uh, so one, and this is, you know, this is, I think one of Fortune’s formulas for sure.

Which is assemble the best group of people around you. That’s possible. That’s okay. That’s uh, that is Fortune’s formula, you know, and you could be starting a, non-profit a, for-profit a startup, uh, you know, a student group or whatever, but just, you have to assemble incredible people around you that are going to compliment you.

And just that, that is, I mean, people are the fundamental units of what we’re trying to do in this industry. I think it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to lose sight of that, but that’s when I’ve seen success compound over time, when I’ve seen success accumulate over time, it starts with them. Uh, and that’s why, you know, I believe in trying to get the people right.

You know, at, at, at all costs, I’ll take all the other risks, you know what I mean? But just creepy people. So that’s, um, and I think, you know, tactically, that just, just, just be the thoughtful and the intentionality. And almost just like a, just a, I mean, just in a, like a relentless precision and hiring, you know what I mean?

Like that’s just, I think, you know,

MPD: [01:05:31] there’s something I suggest entrepreneurs on that note, something I call the Superman analysis. I have them write down all of the skills capabilities they need when they’re starting the company to make the company work. I need some can sell to get a tech product, make the whole list, check the boxes that they have.

And relentlessly to use your word hire, to fill the rest.

Peter Boyce II: [01:05:53] Totally. So I find it helps people focus. Yeah. I think, you know, I would focus on that. That’s I think the everything else, you know, I mean, you know, if I’ve ever going to shape sure. Second piece of advice for entrepreneurs, please. It has to do with, you know, this, this piece around learning sources of learning.

I I’ve got to tell you. The learning from founders that are two stages ahead of you is one of the most tried and true persistent sources of cheat codes and insight that I’ve ever seen for any entrepreneur. If you’re seed stage, have three friends that have series B companies that you’re constantly in dialogue with learning from, because they’ve made in recent memory, some of the choices that you’re going to make, and they’ll tell you some of the potholes.

And some of the great decisions they made. So that’s, and, and, and that I can go down that list, but just the, the sources of learning and the constant, I mean, I used that expression learning machine all the time. It’s just, that is crucial. Right. And I think the moment we decide that we have all the answers or we don’t need to learn anymore.

That’s the, that’s the stagnation, you know, formative. So, yeah. So those are the two things I, I think, I think about the most core and critical.

MPD: [01:07:08] That’s fantastic. Peter, you’re the real deal. Thank you for taking the time. This is fantastic. And there’s a lot of great insights for folks here. Um, and look forward to working with you and seeing your own town once.

Absolutely. And

Peter Boyce II: [01:07:20] DEMEC is over, you know, Mark. Thanks so much for having me and sharing the time. Thank you take care.

MPD: [01:07:25] Thanks.

We’re very grateful to Peter for taking the time to share his experiences with us. I think his perspective is particularly relevant for student entrepreneurs and aspiring VCs. If you liked what you heard, please hook us up with a like or a five star review. And feel free to share with a friend. You can find me on Twitter at MPD to hear more of my conversations with innovators, subscribe on YouTube, Facebook, or any major podcast platform.

Just search for innovation with Mark Peter Davis.


Inside a Mega VC & University Entrepreneurship with Partner Peter Boyce II Partner at General… was originally published in @MPD on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.