July 25, 2020
Image: erhui1979/Getty Images
Hello and welcome to Pipeline. This week: The art of Twitter VC bios, hypocrisy at Carta, and how to raise a VC fund through Twitter.
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Investor Nikhil Basu Trivedi coined the term "solo capitalists" earlier this month after picking up on the trend of individuals like Daniel Gross, Elad Gil and Lachy Groom leading later-stage rounds, like Front's $59 million series C.
But not all solo GPs are made equal, and the amount of capital at their disposal can vary hugely. Enter the micro solo capitalists, who raise funds under $25 million as part-time investing jobs. And two well-known tech influencers did just that in the last two weeks:
In some ways, this is all just a little bit of history repeating. Micro VC funds aren't new, and, if anything, they've been exploding in popularity: First Republic counts nearly 900 firms that have assets under $100 million. And solo fund managers aren't exactly breaking the mold, either.
But if the idea's the same, the execution is very different because there's also a new model emerging that could open up the industry to more people. Enter: the rolling fund.
The bigger hope here: that the approach improves diversity in the industry. While working as a scout is one way to rise up the VC ladder, Lavingia hopes more emerging fund managers might take the micro solo approach instead. Already, groups like the women-led W Fund and Diaspora Ventures, focused on French founders, are raising rolling venture funds. And Lavingia argues that it could unlock new diversified LPs and new diverse fund managers, too.
Protocol's transformation editor Mike Murphy will lead a discussion on how businesses have long "gone digital," even if they didn't start that way. He'll be joined by New Balance CEO Joe Preston, WW CEO Mindy Grossman and Honeywell Chief Digital Technology Officer Sheila Jordan. This event is presented by AlixPartners.
What's one startup or product that failed or was shut down that you wish was still here today?
Rapportive, a Gmail plugin that verified emails and displayed LinkedIn and other social information about the person you were emailing. I loved having all of that info populate automatically alongside my emails. I was definitely a superuser, especially in my cold outreach days building skedge.me!
What's your favorite piece of advice to give to first-time founders?
Hire for key roles ahead of feeling the bottleneck. If you feel like you need to make that hire ASAP to hit your goals or because you feel overextended, you've waited too long. It takes at least a quarter to find and ramp up a new hire. So if you need someone today, that means in the best case scenario, you'll be at least three months behind by the time they will be able to really move the needle.
What's one problem you wish an entrepreneur would solve?
The rising need for products and services targeting the next-gen of retirees. Led by baby boomers, the 65+ demographic is going to surpass 20% of the U.S. population in the coming years and double in absolute numbers by 2060. With this shift and their changing preferences relative to those who have come before them, there is a large opportunity to help them stay happy, healthy and connected to friends, family and society.
What's a startup area that's under-hyped right now?
Tools for the CFO's office. Today, finance teams spend most of their time collecting, cleaning and analyzing disparate data to piece together a holistic, accurate view of a company's financial situation. They spend a lot of time tracking down leaders in the organization for model inputs to plan for the future as well as historical data to understand what has already happened. With the shift to 1) strategic CFOs responsible for company strategy and outcomes as well as 2) an increase in remote work, software that automates workflows and increases collaboration across an organization will be key. This will allow finance teams to become more proactive in nature, something they have been frustrated with the inability to do historically.
What's one of your new quarantine hobbies?
Cocktail making … my husband and I have really enjoyed trying new recipes over the last few months. One of us plays the amateur bartender while the other puts our daughter to bed. I'm a huge mezcal fan so highly recommend the Bitter Smoke!