In this second episode of a new series to feature startups sourced from our Fund81 VC forum members’ portfolios, I interviewed Alaffia Technology Solutions nominated by the Hustle Fund.
In this episode, Beezer shares how the pandemic is affecting Sapphire Partners’ investment strategy. I also share what I’ve been seeing from investing in startups and venture capital funds through our MergeLane fund.
I want to keep reminding myself that nearly 50 percent of my fellow Americans desired a different outcome for this election. I believe that in politics, business, and life, understanding and collaborating with your adversaries is the key to driving change.
Trinet founder Martin Babinec offers timely advice on why and how VCs should engage politically, and how they can leverage opportunities outside traditional startup ecosystems.
I've learned a lot about life and business from my mother’s and my five-year journey to reconcile our political differences. I want to share our story because I think it may be of service regardless of which way you lean politically.
I’m starting a new series to feature some startups sourced from our Fund81 VC forum members’ portfolios. In this episode, I interviewed Gurjot Narwal, CEO of Gini Health.
Here are five things I think every startup and VC can learn by paying attention to what the Hustle Fund is up to.
I was optimistic that I could will myself to keep my normal pace when the smoke settled in. I think I need to take a different approach.
The proliferation of venture capital funds has left many VCs wondering how to deliver unique value to their portfolio companies and how to scale that value to fit their portfolio strategy. I invited Ben Capell, partner at Peterson Ventures, to join us for a candid conversation.
After my business partner had a serious health scare 18 months ago, I started asking myself three questions every day. I've added a fourth during this pandemic.
I invited Evan Walden of Getro to share his thoughts on recruiting top talent in the current environment and the role VCs can play to help their portfolio companies address this ongoing issue.
My colleagues Sue Heilbronner and Leah Pearlman Iaunched their Marco Polo Channel, Inside Coaching, this week. Here’s why and how I’m making the channel a part of my weekly routine.
A few of our portfolio companies considered whether to reopen their previous round or open a new round with a higher valuation. If you are considering the same question, here are the thoughts I shared with one of those companies.
I thought I had overcome my fear of peer pressure when I was 16, but this coronavirus experience has proved me wrong. I broke my commitment to tell the truth at a time when candor could have been of service.
Over the past few months, I've seen an increasing number of pitches from startups tackling the world’s biggest environmental and social problems like climate change, gun violence, and the mental health crisis. I'm also finding that I’m becoming more determined to invest in world-changing startups.
Kim Smith, executive director of the League of Innovative Schools, shares her thought-provoking insights to help drive racial equality in our venture capital industry, and makes a powerful call for white co-conspirators who are ready, willing, and able to fight.
I am grateful for the clarity and inspiration this emotional time has afforded me. I am more driven to do work that matters than ever before. Because we still have a long road ahead, I'm going to take an emotional breather.
We sourced five startups from our Fund81 VC forum members to present for our June forum. Check out this episode to hear pitches from these incredibly tenacious entrepreneurs.
I have fielded several requests for introductions this week. I like to be helpful, but I also like to be respectful of my network’s time. I'd like to share a few tips for making double opt-in intros easy.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who has a modern marriage. Three months into this COVID-19 situation, however, I'm starting to feel like I'm stuck in a 1950s sitcom.
In a conversation on my partners Sue and Leah’s Marco Polo Channel this week, I shared that my fear of how my participation may be received given my white privilege has historically kept me on the sidelines of the racial equality conversation. Guest coach Kimberly Smith gave me some great advice.
As a VC, I have the opportunity to build relationships with people who have tremendous resources. I often hesitate to ask my network to support philanthropic causes, because I want to respect our business relationship. After seeing the impact of COVID-19, however, I decided it was time to ask.
I post my most interesting weekly thoughts, coupled with the best of my listening and reading list, and occasional MergeLane portfolio news each Tuesday. Here’s the best of what I’ve read and listened to this week:
I invited Dick Rothkopf, co-founder of Learning Curve International, the manufacturer of the Thomas the Tank Engine toys, to share his thoughts on how to spot big thinkers and big ideas with the propensity to scale, and how to help entrepreneurs think bigger.
During this epidemic, I've been doing more reading, listening, and introspective thinking. In an effort to remember and share some of what I learned, I'm going to start posting my most interesting weekly thoughts + the best of my listening and reading list + occasional MergeLane portfolio news.
Two people I admire recently shared their silver lining in our global COVID-19 pandemic—an excuse to say no to the constant stream of requests for their time. I’ve made great strides in saying no with candor, but it left me wondering: Can I really stop using excuses for my nos?
Without that physical barrier between work and home, many entrepreneurs (including me) have a hard time shutting off. In this podcast episode, I share what I've learned through my experience working from home for the past 15 years.
I invited Seth Levine to join the show because we’ve had some nice conversations about the challenge we each have in managing our personal bandwidth. Since having these conversations, we’ve both managed to carve out more time through some creative outsourcing and delegating.
Dave Balter, CEO of MergeLane-backed Flipside Crypto, has built three previous startups in the midst of economic downturns. He believes recessions are the greatest time to launch into successful models. In this Fund81 podcast episode, Dave shares his thoughts on why these eras drive opportunity.
I’ve been working from home for the past 15 years. I have learned a lot about maximizing productivity, finding work/life harmony, managing home life, staying fit and maintaining a healthy marriage while working from home. I’ve shared some of these lessons learned in this Fund81 podcast episode.
As part of our survey to determine whether COVID-19 will slow VC investment, we asked venture capitalists to share their advice for entrepreneurs who are currently raising or plan to raise capital in the next six months. Here's advice from 21 of those VCs.
Since we are all wondering how COVID-19 will affect venture capital investment, I surveyed some of my Fund81 VC forum members to take quick pulse on their investment plans. Below is the data from the first 34 respondents.
I have battled anxiety for many years. In that journey, I've learned a lot about how to manage it and support others who battle anxiety as well. I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts.
We’re considering a few different fund administration solutions. I have a lot of questions that other fund managers may have as well. I invited Tiffany Cholez from CFO Fund Services to answer some of these questions live.
In this latest Fund81 podcast episode, I share my 2020 plans for the Fund81 forum and podcast, and a few reflections from my short bout of holiday depression.
I’ve now read over a thousand startup investor updates. The most effective updates — the ones that immediately grab my attention and heighten my interest — have similar characteristics. My advice is below, along with a comprehensive template for startup investor updates.
At MergeLane, we’ve been thinking about how changing market conditions may affect our fund in the future. I know many of our listeners are asking themselves that question as well. Our guest, Liza Benson, thrived as a VC through both the dot-com crash in 2000 and the 2008 financial crisis.
Beezer Clarkson invests in early-stage venture funds at Sapphire Partners (the division within Sapphire Ventures that invests in venture funds). In this episode, Beezer shares her perspective on venture capital trends, VC firm differentiation, and nonobvious mistakes for VC fund managers to avoid.
As an entrepreneur and startup investor, I have had many moments of feeling like I am pushing water uphill with a rake. Sometimes, I have kept pushing and have succeeded out of sheer grit. Sometimes, it was time to admit defeat. Two years ago, I had one of those moments.
Elizabeth Yin, co-founder and general partner at the Hustle Fund, shared her thoughts on how to assess a startup’s ability to “hustle”. Her thoughts are applicable to venture capitalists, startups and anyone who wants to work with hustlers.
Nearly every email I receive starts with “Sorry for the delay.” Our always-on culture has set an unwritten expectation that an email should be responded to within 24 hours. To prevent the perpetuation of this cultural expectation, I would like to make my thoughts clear.
We asked our Fund81 forum for venture capitalists to nominate portfolio companies to participate in a startup showcase. We received over 50 nominations. Four of those startups are featured in this episode.
Jocelyn Goldfein from Zetta Venture Partners joined the Fund81 podcast to share her approach to investing in artificial intelligence (AI). With the cost of creating software continuing to decline, Zetta believes the companies of the future will need to build more than just great software to thrive.
I love being active, but I also have high professional aspirations. I’ve spent the last 16 years trying to find a productive balance between the two. In this episode, Nicole DeBoom, pro triathlete turned CEO of Skirt Sports, and I share our thoughts on how to fit fitness into a startup schedule.
Fundraising doesn’t come naturally to David Cohen, founder and co-CEO of Techstars, but he’s learned how to leverage his strengths and team to successfully raise the funds that power the Techstars network. In this episode, he shares his honest and authentic reflections from this experience.
I practice the principles of Conscious Leadership, a methodology and toolkit that accelerates self-awareness. It’s being taught at companies like Yahoo, Goldman Sachs and Ebay and has forever changed every aspect of my life. I estimate that it has bought me about five hours of extra time each day.
In this Fund81 podcast episode, I invited Brad Feld, founding partner of Foundry Group, to share his thoughts on maintaining mental health in the fast-paced venture capital world and supporting portfolio companies, colleagues, friends and family wrestling with mental health issues.
SC Moatti joined the Fund81 podcast to talk about how to discover and vet products in venture capital. We talk about how VCs can spot indications of future product success, creative ways to look under the hood before investing, and the product-related questions most venture capitalists fail to ask.
In this Fund81 podcast episode, we talk about something that has made our team at MergeLane better investors - the Enneagram Personality Typing System. To talk about how the Enneagram can help other VCs, I invited Kaley Klemp to join the podcast.
We are big proponents of using the 15 Commitments in the work we do in Conscious Leadership. However, as an Enneagram Type 1 who is most happy at maximum productivity, I’ve always had a hard time buying into Commitment #9, the commitment to play and rest. Until yesterday….
I am extremely disciplined and focused. However, this can also be a detriment. Anything I perceive as a distraction from my to-do list feels stressful, and I have to constantly tell myself that off-the-to-do-list opportunities are often the best opportunities. I was recently reminded of that.
For the final episode of Fund81's first season, I interviewed Jaclyn Freeman Hester from Foundry Group. As someone relatively new to the industry, she has a fresh perspective on what's compelling to institutional investors and an incredible pulse on the landscape for emerging VC managers. Enjoy!
Could I be more effective if I simply surrendered to a schedule that felt natural to me? After some serious self-reflection and experimentation, I can unequivocally say YES.
I’m trying to focus my time on opportunities to operate in my zone of genius and a few select priority areas in line with my passions and in which I feel I can make the most impact, aka my true north. To help all of us stay the course, I thought it might be helpful to share those priorities.
Dave Balter, the CEO of one of our MergeLane portfolio companies, Flipside Crypto, shares his perspective on investing in the cryptocurrency space. Dave is obsessed with and extremely knowledgeable about cryptocurrency, and has an interesting perspective from both sides of the table.
Most venture capital funds target a minimum ownership percentage when making investments. In this Fund81 episode, Amish Jani, a founder and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital, shares his take on why ownership matters and how funds of different sizes and strategies determine ownership targets.
Venture capital funds are typically structured to have a 10-year lifespan, but venture-backed companies often take more than 10 years to achieve an exit and return capital to their investors. In this Fund81 podcast episode, we discuss solutions to this problem with our our guest, Roland Reynolds.
This year, I decided to do an experiment. To build our MergeLane investor and mentor network, I dedicated four months to exclusively focus on meetings that involved skiing.
Conscious Leadership has been a game-changer for our partnership and our investing. For this Fund81 podcast interview, I invited my business partner at the MergeLane venture fund for high-potential startups with at least one woman in leadership, Sue Heilbronner, to talk about Conscious Leadership.
Gaining an understanding of venture fund legal terms can be a bit like learning a foreign language. In this episode, my guest, Mark Weakley, helps us navigate some of the more complicated terms commonly seen in venture fund legal documents.
I cannot think of a commitment my mother has ever broken. The importance she places on her commitments is one of her best qualities. I am proud that I inherited this quality. However, my goal for 2018 is to actually allow myself to break a few commitments.
In this podcast, I spoke with Bill Maris, the founder of Google Ventures (GV) and Section 32, who happens to be an introvert. I am also an introvert and have been doing a lot of thinking about how my introversion plays into my life as a venture capitalist. We explore this topic in this episode.
Venture Capitalists are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate themselves and produce better returns. One popular path to this is specialization according to geography, industry sector, etc. Nick Moran, GP at New Stack Ventures and host of the Full Ratchet podcast, shares his insights.
Venture fund legal terms can sound a bit like a foreign language to new venture capitalists and venture fund investors. In this Fund81 podcast episode, Liz Meade, a new angel investor considering venture fund investments, interviews me to decode some of the lingo in venture fund offering agreements.
As an early-stage startup investor, I like to use the first meeting to ask some fairly unconventional qualitative questions. Here are 18 of my favorites.
I’m excited to announce the launch of my Fund81 podcast for VCs. Fund81 is a podcast for the next generation of venture capital. As a general partner of the MergeLane venture fund and your host at Fund81, I'll tackle specific questions commonly asked by venture fund managers.
We are excited to announce that MergeLane will be accepting its first class of women-led startups in February of 2015. After years of running, mentoring and investing in startups, Sue Heilbronner saw a need for this and I am so thankful she convinced me to join her. After becoming increasingly...
I’ve always been hesitant to identify myself as a “female” entrepreneur or angel investor and I’ve never gravitated toward women’s groups. There are a lot of reasons why, but it’s mostly because I’ve been afraid of marginalizing myself as a business person by doing so. Despite this however, I am...
I recently met with one of the female CEOs in whom I’ve invested to encourage her to apply for the MergeLane accelerator. I encouraged her to apply because she is an exceptional entrepreneur who has been making impressive progress with her business. She asked me a great question: “As an investor...
I finished my first Half Ironman when I was 22 years old and it was a huge feat for me. I have zero natural athletic talent, so I had to train twice as hard, be twice as disciplined and stay twice as focused as my training buddies. But crossing the finish line made it all…
As I’m sure many of you have seen, David Cohen’s “Mentor Manisfesto” is a great set of guidelines for mentors. It’s been very helpful to me in my journey as a mentor and it’s certainly helped us recruit mentors for MergeLane. However, I had an experience the other day that inspired me to...
Every week during our accelerator program, the teams have to choose a “Big Rock” goal for the week. If they don’t meet that goal, they have to do something like sing karaoke during our team meeting or tell an embarrassing childhood story. The MergeLane team plays too. Since we’re trying to help...
I, like many active angel investors, receive several meeting requests a day from companies looking for angel funding. As I was going through my inbox today, I started thinking about what separates the best meeting requests from the rest of the pack. When deciding to answer an email from an...
I am asked to make an introduction to people in my network several times per day, but unfortunately, I can’t say yes to most of these requests. I thought it might be helpful to share why. Here it goes: My intros are a reflection on me. Because of this, I typically only make intros when…
I hate crying almost as much as I hate being labeled as a “female entrepreneur” or a “female investor.” Both of these things make me feel weak and vulnerable, as if I’m somehow not strong enough to play in the major leagues. But if there is one thing I’ve learned on this incredible ride of…
Most startup investors look for entrepreneurs who know their business inside and out. Historical financials are rarely a good predictor of future startup success, but entrepreneurs’ understanding of their financials and key metrics can be. In helping our MergeLane teams prepare for Demo Day last...
The shortage of tech talent is a challenge for perhaps every company with which I’ve worked. Since this is a constant topic of conversation not only among startups, but companies at every stage, MergeLane has invited experts from three innovative companies at totally different growth stages to...
Entrepreneurs often ask me: what kinds of companies are likely to be funded by angel investors? Because angel investors are individuals and all individuals are different, it’s really hard to answer this question. However, from my experience reviewing thousands of angel investment opportunities...
I’ve seen thousands of entrepreneurs pitch in dozens of different pitch formats, but the following is the format I’d recommend. I’ve compiled this through my own experience as an investor, the best of the existing resources I found, and input from several angel investors.
MergeLane is launching Onramp Live to share fantastic insight from startup mentors, angel investors, VCs and exceptional leaders. We’re kicking this off with an interactive online discussion with the founders of Dating Ring (as featured on Gimlet’s StartUp Podcast, Y Combinator Grad), Kindara...
As a mentor for several accelerators, an investor in accelerator participants, and the co-founder of MergeLane, an accelerator for high-growth startups with at least one woman in leadership, I often find myself explaining the ins and outs of startup accelerators. I recently invited...
In preparation for our next MergeLane accelerator class, we’ve been searching high and low to find the most promising startups with at least one woman in leadership. As of today, I have reviewed over 1100 AngelList profiles. By the 527th profile, this admittedly became a bit tedious, but it was...
The only thing I know for certain about early-stage companies is that there will be uncertainty. Even the best opportunities often twist, turn and pivot thousands of times before they produce a return for their investors. As an angel and the Chief Investment Officer at MergeLane, I focus most of...
As an active angel investor and co-founder of the MergeLane accelerator, I am asked to recommend startup lawyers almost once a week. Many of these requests come from companies that have been working with a friend or family friend, or a reduced cost attorney. Those lawyers may not have...
The valuations set for each round of financing can have significant consequences for startup investors and entrepreneurs. Thanks to new and improved startup resources, it’s now much easier to understand how high startups can value their company. However, the question of how high a startup should...
I frequently find that entrepreneurs fail to provide all of the information I need to execute a wire to invest in their company. To save time and hassle for entrepreneurs and startup investors everywhere, I’ve created a simple template. See below or download this word doc. You’re welcome.
As an active angel investor and the co-founder of MergeLane, an accelerator and fund focused on companies with at least one woman in leadership, I’ve made 24 investments over the past year. All 24 of those entrepreneurs followed different investment-closing processes, many of which created...
I was recently asked to speak at two Boulder Startup Week sessions on startup diversity to provide my perspective as a female investor with experience investing in women-led companies. Admittedly, when I was asked to speak on these topics, I was a little miffed. Two more invitations to speak...
As an active angel investor, former angel group leader, and the co-founder of MergeLane, an accelerator and fund for high-growth startups with at least one woman in leadership, I’ve heard thousands of investors ask tens of thousands of questions. I’ve also learned that startups’ answers to these...
The amount of money a company raises to finance its operation is an important metric, but I’ve learned that entrepreneurs and investors often calculate this differently. We recently sent out our quarterly survey to the 25 investments we’ve made through the MergeLane accelerator and fund...
Churn Rate is a metric for measuring retention. It is commonly used for both employee and customer retention. In the context of startups, the term is most frequently used when discussing customer retention. As a customer retention metric, it is like MRR, in that it is only applicable to companies...
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is perhaps the most-referenced startup metric, but MRR is only applicable to companies that provide services to their customers through an ongoing contractual relationship, e.g., SaaS businesses (For more on MRR, read my previous post: MRR – The Definition...
This post is the fifth in a series summarizing guidance for how to calculate key metrics for startups. This series focuses on the metrics that are the most critical for entrepreneurs, angel investors and venture capitalists. These critical Key Performance Indicators for startups...