Sequoia Scout Crystal Widjaja on the Sequoia investing framework, building consumer products and becoming a good seed investor.

Summary

Crystal Widjaja, Startup Advisor & Sequoia Scout

Key Takeaways:

1) Spending time operating before venture helps you better understand the drivers of growth in a company, and it’s helpful when you sit on the other side because it helps you identify founders who really understand the journey.

2) As you begin scout investing, develop your thesis around team specific product experiences. Some teams may like a product in a way that other teams don’t, and make sure the companies you are scouting understand which user to sell to for their product.

3) Look for tenacious founders that are looking to do the hardwork and truly understand what their users care about.

4) Check out http://www.generationgirl.org!!

Semil Shah (Haystack VC) on the LP landscape, advice for founders, and the “chocolate chip cookie company” fallacy

Summary

Semil Shah, Managing Partner, Haystack VC

Key Takeaways:

1) LP’s struggle to deploy capital without face to face opportunities, so emerging managers are not being funded as quickly as they hoped. On the flip side, many LP’s are excited about the pending reset in asset prices from a downturn, and funding may pick up sooner than expected as they search for improved returns over the next decade.

2) The investors that are able to play offense through these times have triaged the portfolio effectively and are now focused on upside maximization.

3) COVID provides tailwinds, but many of these tailwinds are obvious in times like this (telemedicine, online education, collaboration software, etc). Funds should be careful before building a portfolio just off of the current times. 

‘Back to School’ with the Moore Twins (CRV) on breaking into venture, building a personal brand and sourcing great companies in a pandemic

Summary

Olivia and Justine Moore, CRV

Key Takeaways:

1. Sourcing: college students are often the first adopters of next gen consumer platforms, and being around the college campus is a great way to get involved.

2. Finding trends: follow a diverse range of creators outside of your friend community to see what new products and apps are gaining traction. 

3. Value add VCs: spending time with founders and asking what they need help with matters. The challenge in covid is that some companies have been wiped out and others are thriving as a result, so understanding which founders need what types of support is important. 

Courtside VC on the return of the NBA, the future of in game betting and the Stockdale Paradox.

Summary

Courtside VC, Founding Partners (Vasu Kulkarni + Deepen Parikh)

Key takeaways:

1. Sports is a global gateway, and there is a lot of pent up demand for it. It’s not a matter of if, but when, and there will be significant momentum when it can finally return.

2. 75% of betting in Europe is in game betting, while only 25% in the US. There is a lot of technology that goes into making that possible, and many of which will start taking off.

3. Nascent tech being tested and slow rolled over the past few years will be forced into adoption in the next few years to make up for lost revenue. 

645 Ventures’ Nnamdi Okike on the top 5 myths of Billion dollar startups, leveraging data to find investments, “return the fund” frameworks, and advice for black founders.

Summary

Nnamdi Okike, Founder & Managing Partner, 645 Ventures

Key Takeaways:

1. Deals today can be more efficiently identified outside of the traditional technology hubs. In part because software companies today require less upfront capital, but also because and the technical talent needed to scale them is more distributed than ever before.

2. Founders should recognize whether their company (and category) are advantaged, disadvantaged or neutral as a result of covid.

3. Going forward teams will focus on the same unit economics, but put more emphasis on raising and maintaining sufficient cash runway to ensure they can achieve milestones before returning to the markets for fresh capital. 

NextView Ventures’ Rob Go on investing in underrepresented Founders, the transition from FOMO to FOLD, and changes to the consumer business model.

Summary

Rob Go, General Partner, NextView Ventures

Key Takeaways:

1. E-com businesses that have subscription-like unit economics will begin to be treated more favorably as this crisis unlocks a new consistent consumer base.

2. Dislocation between economic realities and public markets exists, but early stage company valuations are still predominantly driven by their competition.

3. Reference checks are a critical and useful way to check on a founder in a remote environment.  

Brendan Wallace (Fifth Wall) on built world technology, the future of the retail ecosystem, and the impact of COVID on the home office setup.

Summary

Brendan Wallace, Founder and Managing Partner, Fifth Wall

Key Takeaways: 

1. Emerging manager needs to be able to clearly articulate their edge in the market and what makes them win vs other new funds, especially in times where capital is harder to raise.

2. 90% of US retail still happens offline, and we don’t know when they will open or how people will react when they do. Ecommerce has the opportunity to fundamentally shift the way we shop, and COVID has accelerated that adoption.

3. A greater portion of the workforce will want to work flexibly, and a greater portion of employers will allow it. Employees will need to have stronger home office setups, and there is an opportunity for technology companies to address this going forward.

Jules Maltz (IVP) with a note for aspiring VCs, the importance of protecting cash flow, and changes to the VC funding environment

Summary

Jules Maltz, General Partner, IVP

Key takeaways:

1. Companies don’t go out of business because the idea fails, they go out of business because they run out of money. Protecting your resources allows you to pivot and weather the storm.

2. Building in “degrees of freedom” that allow the business to sustain revenue decline/downturns is critical and should be part of the scenario testing process.

3. For aspiring VCs, begin looking for investments now and building the skillset, there are some great companies being built and it is a great time to learn.

Legendary Investor Brad Feld (Foundry Group) on never having “fake days”, how to be a better ally, the impact of second order effects, and the failure of warning systems in tech.

Summary

Key Takeaways:

1.  A great way to be a helpful ally is not to shift the burden and ask how you can help, but ask what programs and organizations they care about and donate your time and money to help those causes grow.

2. Warning systems fail because they don’t tell us when they are no longer going to warn us. Whether within a company or out in society, all warning systems are only as reliant as the inputs they are built upon. 

3. Never have “fake days”- leaders should stop spending time on things that don’t bring positive emotional value to them or positive economic impact to their business. 

Road Untraveled: 5-time Founder and General Partner Nihal Mehta (Eniac Ventures) on the media consumption trends, industries to watch, and building a company in a pandemic.

Summary

Nihal Mehta, Founding General Partner, Eniac Ventures

Key Takeaways:

1. “Time spent on media” vs “ad dollars going to media” are not directly tied. Consumer business models are not designed to succeed in recessions, and many will need to adjust rapidly to survive.

2. Construction, real estate, insurance, health care are large components of GDP transforming very quickly, presenting new opportunities for investors.

3. It’s a great time to build, but not a great time to sell. Spend time building and improving your product, as opposed to focusing on selling.

4. Customers and buyers are also facing tight budgets, and there are better uses of your team’s energy and focus over the next 12 months.