June 13, 2020
Hello and welcome to Pipeline. Thank you to everyone who shared last week's newsletter on how firms can make this industry more inclusive. Keep taking action. This week: Pay to pitch is back, so is the IPO market, and why remote startups may not be all that hot.
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Would you pay a few hundred dollars (or several thousand) if it meant you could get investors — from a Sequoia scout to Barbara Corcoran — to directly review your business idea? That's the bet that a new startup called Vintro is making after it publicly launched last week.
"At its core, it's a platform that allows anyone regardless of your background, regardless of where you came from or who you know, to have access to some of the world's most important decision makers to help bring your idea to life," Sugrue said.
But is charging startups to pitch investors a good idea? It's been a controversial topic for the last decade. Supporters think it can be a good ROI and provide access for entrepreneurs who don't have a way into investing circles, but critics argue that it takes advantage of inexperienced founders.
Sugrue argues that critics overlook the hidden costs of pitching. There's a cost to entrepreneurs flying out to Silicon Valley to pitch or spending months sending emails when $50 can get a guaranteed response on a faster timeline and potentially a new business connection, she says.
But it'll also have to work to convince its reviewers that it's on the right side of opening access without profiteering from it.
Where do you stand on pay-to-pitch? Email me, and I may include a few responses in next week's issue.
Protocol's Transformation of Work Summit
How can tech help identify and match in-demand skills with job opportunity? Speakers include Future of Work Caucus co-chairs Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Representative Bryan Steil (R-WI), CEO of Jobs for the Future Maria Flynn, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies Matthew Sigelman and CEO of Colorado State University Global Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker. Presented by Workday.
What's a secret obsession of yours that most people don't know about?
Gummy-textured candy, specifically Haribo brand. If I'm not disciplined, I can easily polish off an entire 1.8-pound bag by myself and in one sitting. That size package is clearly meant to be shared and to be consumed over time. SMH, but the struggle is real.
What was your path into becoming a VC?
My professional background is somewhat eclectic. After graduating from Northeastern University, I joined a seed stage enterprise software company and later helped grow that company into the U.K. and Europe. Then I worked in post M&A integration consulting for the Blackstone Group. Later I led strategy consulting projects for blue chip media and entertainment companies. My path to venture really started in business school where I had the privilege of leading the school's pre-seed evergreen fund. Post graduation I joined Intel Capital where I ultimately became an investment director and completed my Kauffman fellowship. After about five years at Intel Capital, I co-founded Cross Culture Ventures, which is now branded MaC Venture Capital. We're a little over 5 years old. I'm having a ton of fun!
What's one piece of advice you received that you're glad you ignored?
Be patient. It seems like most times when someone is threatened by your existence (because you may outshine them, or seem smarter or seem more talented than them, etc.) they tell you to be patient. I'm glad I had the correct sense of timing, self belief, ambition and follow through to build when I believed the time was right. Had I not ignored that advice, there is no way that my venture firm gets started or sees the early success that it has experienced.
What's one of the worst predictions you've ever made?
My worst prediction was that smart cups that tell you exactly what you are consuming would be a thing. This was at the beginning of the IoT and health tech movement. Let's just say it didn't quite pan out.
What's one problem you wish an entrepreneur would solve?
I've been paying attention to the fitness tech space and have been searching for a platform that enables 1:1 personal training, but at scale. If you're an entrepreneur building that, I want to talk.
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