Entrepreneurship does not equal financing. Entrepreneurship = Customers + Revenues + Profits. Financing is optional. Exit is optional. You may be surprised to hear that many VCs agree. Please listen to the following 30-minute podcast interviews with ten investors at large venture capital firms. Learn for yourself if it is time for your venture to raise funding, if your Total Available Market is large enough, and if your revenue shows enough momentum to be of interest to VCs.
Dave Hornik, General Partner, August Capital – Dave, as some of you may know, shocked the industry years ago by being the first VC to start blogging. His peers were aghast! Well, clearly, he saw something before everybody else, and today, many VCs blog, Tweet, and do all sorts of other things to engage in social media, now a dominant force in the industry. He discusses a number of points, of which, I want to particularly draw your attention to his views on the subject of Freemium.
Shomit Ghose, Partner, Onset Ventures – Shomit is also a veteran startup executive with multiple IPOs under his belt. He highlights the fact that 70,000 ventures received angel funding in 2014, but the number of companies receiving venture funding remains constant year over year at about 1,000 per year. Focusing on building value is of paramount importance, so that you can validate and prove your value proposition.
Warren Weiss, General Partner, Foundation Capital – Warren has a long track record in the Silicon Valley venture capital industry. He shares areas he and Foundation are excited about as opportunities for building future Unicorns.
Scott Sandell, General Partner, NEA – Scott is one of NEA’s star investors. He has been named to the Forbes Midas list every year since 2007, and has been involved with eight Unicorn companies including Salesforce.com, Workday, Webex, Tableau, and others. Scott discusses, specifically, Webex and Tableau in quite a bit of depth.
Ann Winblad, Co-founder, Hummer Winblad – Ann is one of the most successful women VCs in our industry, and as I mentioned in my introduction, I have never heard her whining about bias against women. One of the most encouraging things she discusses is how her firm is sourcing interesting ventures from all over the world, not just Silicon Valley. Mulesoft, one of their hot portfolio companies, had its CEO based in Malta, originally!
Brian Jacobs, General Partner, Emergence Capital – As SaaS / Cloud domain experts, Emergence Capital boasts a fabulous portfolio, including solid exits like SuccessFactors, Yammer, and Veeva. Brian discusses his views on where cloud opportunities are likely to be at this point. While we’re in a mature market, he is still bullish on innovation.
Jason Lemkin, Investor & Founder Champion, SaaStr Fund – Jason, prior to becoming a VC, was the CEO of EchoSign, a digital signature SaaS vendor that Adobe acquired some years back. This iss an excellent discussion and offers very concrete pointers to where you might look for white spaces in the cloud computing space to do new ventures.
Sandeep Singhal, Managing Director, Nexus Venture Partners – Key player in the India-US startup corridor. The discussion spans trends in SaaS, Open Source, and the Indian venture capital market in general. If you are working in the technology startup sector with an interest in India, this is a discussion worth listening to.
Jason Stoffer, General Partner, Maveron – This consumer-only venture capital firm has had a successful track record of investing in e-commerce ventures ranging from eBay, Shutterfly, and Groupon to the more recent Zulily, as well as education ventures. Jason discusses e-commerce opportunities.
Tod Francis, Managing Director, Shasta Ventures – We start with a discussion on the history of retail, all the way from shoe stores, to departmental stores, and back to specialty retail. This is followed by a similar overview of the history of e-commerce ranging from Amazon’s strategy to how specialty retail is translating into niche e-commerce, and how Tod is looking at investments in the category.