Episode 45: Jason Cahill of McCune Ventures

This week’s guest is Jason Cahill of McCune Capital, as seed-stage venture fund here in NYC funding new technology applied to old industries.

Enjoy great insights from Jason on what seed-investing is all about. "It's all one big conversation"

By background, Jason is network design engineer by training, an experienced manager, an Army veteran who served with Special Forces, an empathetic customer advocate, and a product-focused leader that loves to think big. An MBA at Carnegie Mellon sparked his passion for tech, and for data-centric, mission-driven companies solving “real problems.” He's always enjoyed helping teams and has long been an advisor/mentor/advocate for entrepreneurial ventures in various organizations. His investments have spanned sectors, but always gravitate toward high-performing operators.

Episode 44: Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift

This week's guest is the great Rafat Ali. Rafat is the CEO/founder of Skift, the largest business intelligence and marketing platform in travel, providing news, information, data, and services to all sectors of the world’s largest industry.

If there's anyone we've ever spoken to that embodies the mantra of "following your own instinct" it is Rafat. His is the story of doubling and tripling down on his own vision despite all odds.

Previously, he was the founder of paidContent and ContentNext, now owned by UK’s Guardian News and Media. Prior to that, he was managing editor of Silicon Alley Reporter.

 

Episode 41: Jessica Lawrence, CEO of NY Tech Alliance

This week's guest is Jessica Lawrence Quinn, the CEO of NY Tech Alliance, a non-profit organization supporting New York’s growing technology community, and the organizer of NY Tech Meetup, the world’s largest Meetup group.

Prior to her work with NY Tech Alliance, Jessica was the CEO of Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council in Southern California, where she supported a community of 75 staff, 5,000 volunteers, and 15,000 girls.

Jessica was one of only 15 women selected to participate in Seth Godin’s Female Entrepreneur MBA (FeMBA) in 2010. Jessica’s writing has been featured on the Harvard Business Review blog, Forbes.com, The Next Web, The Huffington Post and in a weekly column in The Press-Enterprise. She also speaks frequently on the tech sector, the future of work, and organizational development and culture at events such as PopTech, SXSW, and TEDx.

Episodes 39 & 40: Brad Harrison, Scout Ventures

This week’s guest is the incomparable Brad Harrison, founder and managing partner of Scout Ventures. Scout Ventures is a seed stage venture capital firm in NYC that partners with experienced entrepreneurs who are building scalable technologies.

Brad is an entrepreneur and seasoned business development executive with a passion for technology, media, entertainment and lifestyle. Brad has a great deal of experience launching new ventures. While attending MIT, he worked as a Partner in a seed stage venture fund, ITU Ventures, and helped launch a joint MIT-Harvard incubator. During this experience, Brad worked at the earliest stages with many dynamic companies including Endeca Technologies.

While serving as Director of Media Strategy and Development at AOL, Brad co-authored 3 patents in search, geo-tagging, and personalization, with Edmund Fish, Senior Vice President and General Manager at AOL. Following AOL, Brad helped raise $40M in venture funding for a contextual online advertising network. Prior to launching his business career, Brad served in the United States Army for five years, earning both Airborne and Ranger qualifications and retired as Captain. He resides in Tribeca with his wife, Angie, his son, Elvis and his daughter, Scout.

Episodes 37 & 38: Spencer Ante tells story of world's first Venture Capitalist

The guest on these two episodes is Spencer Ante, author of Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital.

Spencer is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated and award-winning author, writer, editor, and journalist formerly with The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and Wired. He is also a seasoned product developer and manager with extensive experience across digital media, social media, broadcast, and print media. He is also President and cofounder of WhoWeUse, a mobile app and Web directory that connects people with the most popular local services used by their friends and neighbors.

Spencer tells the story of the first professional venture capitalist in the world, the guy who literally “made up the industry” and launched the first venture fund ever- in 1946! Georges Doriot was a visionary, few understood what he was doing, the SEC fought him tooth and nail throughout the decades he was running his venture fund. His LP’s nagged him incessantly for immediate “dividends” well before the startups he was backing had even had a chance to grow. Yet Doriot stayed true to his vision and pushed forward relentlessly. He was eventually vindicated- but you'll hear all about it on these episodes.

So head on up to the venture studio office and hear the story that Spencer’s got for us.

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Buy Creative Capital on Amazon:
www.amazon.com/Creative-Capital-…ure/dp/1422101223

2016 Year in Podcasts

What a year 2016 has been for @venturestudio - incredible guests - conversations with some of the most interesting people in NYC's investment community. It's been tremendous fun and we've learned a ton. I want to give out a big thanks to my producer, Kevin Weeks, for all his efforts. Kevin was a former student of mine @ Columbia- he's worked with startups and investors in a variety of capacities, and was the one who pushed me to get @venturestudio up and running again- this time as a podcast. We both saw the value of speaking directly to the mystery surrounding fundraising by having the people who "write the checks" on the show. Fundraising is a process that all founders face in one way or another, and frankly it remains a major source of stress and anxiety for many of them.

We also want to thank you for tuning-in- we're grateful to have you with us.

And if you've enjoyed the show this year I'm going to ask you to take two minutes right now- by clicking on this link and once there, to clock on "View in iTunes" and then leave us a 5 Star Review- this helps us enormously. Can you do that for us? Much appreciated.

So here we are with a year behind us as a podcast. It's all about learning and listening- we want to give our guests the forum to open-up, speak freely and in "longer-form" with limited interruption from me- so we can get to hear their internal ruminations about investing, about founders, about NYC- and to learn their motivations, interests, pet peeves, etc. We want to get beyond the mundane LTV vs. CAC analysis that anyone can regurgitate. Most of these folks have a lot more going on than investing in startups. They've had careers and families, many have been founders themselves, they are involved in causes and charities and movements in many cases. That's the whole point isn't it? They're real people who happen to invest in companies- and we've had some really great people on who help this NYC ecosystem get better every day just by being who they are.

So just below are some of our most interesting conversations of the year. Rather than simply listing episodes and key takeaways, we thought it would be more interesting to group some of our guests into buckets such as "the newcomers', "the intellectuals", "the tacticians", "the guardians", "the originals", etc. Tweet at us if you learned other things that you want to add.

 

The Newcomer: Shan-Lyn Ma

Shan is the CEO of the fastest growing registry in the world, Zola. She's just finished raising her Series C and in 3.5 years has built a powerhouse company here in NYC. 

She's also jumped into angel investing over the last 18 months. How's she going about it? What approach is she taking. Have a listen- just super thoughtful and insightful.

 

The Intellectuals: Naval Ravikant & Jerry Neumann

Naval Ravikant

In this two-part interview, my fellow Stuyvesant grad, Naval, who is co-founder and CEO of Angellist went absolutely "beyond thunderdome" as I like to say. He got deep- to put it mildly. He presciently predicted the forces being unleashed on the presidential election, elucidated on his epic post: The American Spring: medium.com/the-mission/america…320bf712#.k4ppdt9pd , covered the power-dynamics (and haters) at play in venture capital, and discussed the coming disruption of the wealthy elite in the American Political system.

Oh yes, I should add we also found time to discuss AngelList, syndicates and startup funding :) 

Jerry Neumann

“The hard part’s not writing the check. The hard part is getting a bigger check back at the end.”

Jerry is one of the deepest thinkers in the venture scene, period. He's also one of the longest standing investors in NYC, and has been a part of the NYC tech ecosystem for 25+ years as a VC, founder, angel and fellow entrepreneurship professor @ Columbia.

Jerry goes deep on his investing philosophy and approach, the power-law in VC, betting on the ponies, thoughts on getting started as an investor, Carlotta Perez's epic work on technology cycles, and more. Speaking with Jerry is always an awesome learning experience.

Also check out some links of his below:

Reaction Wheel
reactionwheel.net/

Betting on the Ponies: non-Unicorn Investing
reactionwheel.net/2014/07/betting-ponies.html

Neu Venture Capital
neuvc.com

 

The Tacticians: Steph Palmeri & Jonathan Lehr

Steph Palmeri

A lot to learn from Steph- she's a machine-gun of energy and insights. She comes to my startup classes at Columbia (where she's an alumnae of the MBA program) to lecture on venture capital and always cuts right to the core when she talks to founders about their startup projects.

One major takeaway from this conversation is Steph's advice to NYC founders doing a seed round: You should have at least one west coast investor in the round! Very important to have that DNA in the company when you get to later rounds!

Jonathan Lehr

Jonathan is the co-founder and General Partner at Work-Bench which helps scale enterprise technology startups by providing community and workspace, connecting exceptional builders to Fortune 500 buyers, and co-investing in extraordinary founders tackling enormous markets.

Jonathan talks about Work-Bench providing the platform that equips their founders with ridiculous access to potential enterprise clients to do customer development and/or sales. It's working- so pay close attention to what they're building and get involved if you're in the business of selling to the enterprise.

The Accelerators: Jenny Fielding & Alex Iskold

Jenny Fielding

Jenny previews the launch of Techstars IoT accelerator (and their five corporate partners) which she's running. I've been over since then and it's really terrific- lots of great teams. This will be an IoT franchise in NYC- mark my words- a terrific program with a superb leader.

Alex Iskold

Alex puts on an absolutely incredible Techstars program. It's a jewel here in NYC. From this episode we learned so much about his approach and philosophy. Enormous wisdom here.

Alex Iskold founded GetGlue, which was acquired in 2013 and Information Laboratory which was acquired in 2003. He also writes a great blog about startups and venture capital at  and you can follow him on twitter at @alexiskold.

The Syndicator: Ming Yeh

What a pleasure it was to talk to Ming- she's a veteran in the VC industry and is now running the largest seed fund in the world! It's a $400M vehicle called CSC Upshot. Ming is based in the US but the fund's parent company is Chinese.

Ming is full of wisdom and educates us on the burgeoning chinese early-stage sector, her view on Angellist Syndicates and the goals of CSC Upshot. Enjoy!

The Blue-Collar Genius: Paul Martino

From Paul we learn a great deal. Some highlights were what it was like to be mentored by the legendary Bill Campbell, why he and his partners founded Bullpen to play in the space between Seed and Series A, and a good deal about their blue-collar/lunch-pail approach to investing. 

Paul's a very successful serial entrepreneur and he described his entrepreneurial mindset in staking out a space in venture that no one else was in: "post-seed, 12-18 months prior to Series A". 

The Guardian: Jerry Colonna

We believe that in work is the possibility of the full realization of human potential. Work does not have to destroy us. Work can be the way we achieve our fullest self.

What can I say about my fellow Brooklynite Jerry Colonna? He's just a gem- we're so lucky to have him in this ecosystem. He's helping so many founders and investors via his Reboot coaching platform.

He's also been on a long personal odyssey to find peace and meaning and fulfillment in his life. He shares a good bit on this score as well. A very special person.

 

The Original: Joanne Wilson

She's a fellow Brooklynite and wears her opinions on her sleeve- a creature of pure instinct- a one-woman-gang backing female founders across the city and the country- yes- she's the gotham gal - definitely read her blog. She started working in NYC tech in the 90's folks- she's seen it all. She was working with Jason Calacanis when he put his first Silicon Alley Reporter out. These days she's having the time of her life and has been investing in startups for a decade. 

From Joanne some of the key insights we gleaned were the fact that tweens are too fickle a market to invest in, that in addition to backing women-led ventures she's also quietly running a network of women angel investors with whom she compares deal flow, and that she "beat the shit out of her dad in ping-ping" when she was a kid :)

We also learned that she trusts her instincts 100%, doesn't put up with any BS, totally believes in her insights and is not wracked by second-guessing decisions and all that nonsense. We would all do well to remind ourselves of what self-confidence and conviction sounds like by listening to Joanne as we enter a new year.

----

Hope you've enjoyed and looking forward to more conversations on @venturestudio in the new year.

Wishing you all the best for 2017!

Dave

Episode 36: Shan-Lyn Ma, CEO of Zola & Angel Investor

This week’s guest is Shan-Lyn Ma, Co-Founder and CEO of Zola and angel investor in New York City. Zola is re-inventing the Wedding Registry for the modern couple.

Shan elaborates on the great success of Zola in becoming the fastest growing wedding registry and how she and her team used their learnings from their time at Gilte Group to design the business model. She also describes the funding of Zola, which recently raised it's Series C round. Each round was very different- seed, Series A, B & C and investors wanted to see different things at each interval. Fascinating stuff.

Lastly, Shan describes her recent foray into angel investing. For anyone thinking of getting into investing at some point her approach is extremely thoughtful and sharp.

Remember - all of our shows are available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio.

Enjoy!

Episode 35: The Master (Jerry Colonna)

This week's guest is Dave's friend, Jerry Colonna of Reboot. Jerry is an executive coach who uses the skills he learned as a venture capitalist to help entrepreneurs with his platform, Reboot. He draws on his wide variety of experiences to help clients design a more conscious life and make needed changes to their career to improve their performance and satisfaction. Previously he was a partner with JPMorgan Partners (JPMP), the private­ equity arm of JP Morgan Chase. He joined JPMP from Flatiron Partners, which he launched 1996 with partner, Fred Wilson. Flatiron became one of the most successful, early­ stage investment programs in the New York City area. At Flatiron, Jerry was responsible for a wide range of the firm’s investments including Geocities Inc., Gamesville Inc., Vertical One Inc., and The New York Times Digital.

Jerry is truly a gem in the startup ecosystem and describes is own journey of radical self-inquiry over the past 15 years.

Remember - all of our shows are available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio.

Episodes 33 & 34: Jerry Neumann, Angel Investor

This two part series features Jerry Neumann, early stage angel investor at Neu Venture Capital and longtime New York VC. Neu invests in seed-stage companies developing cutting-edge technologies for use in large markets. Neu makes five or six new investments a year and only invests in companies where they can make a difference.

Jerry and Dave cover the landscape of NYC over the past 20+ years, Jerry's philosophy and approach to investing as well as Jerry's insights into technology cycles. They also discuss teaching entrepreneurship to the next generation as both Jerry and Dave are professors teaching entrepreneurship at Columbia University.

“The hard part’s not writing the check. The hard part is getting a bigger check back at the end.”

Remember - all of our shows are available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio.

Enjoy!

Episode 32: Jonathan Lehr, CEO of Work-Bench

This week’s guest is Jonathan Lehr (@fendien), Co-Founder and General Partner at Work-Bench (@Work_Bench). Work-Bench helps scale enterprise technology startups by providing community and workspace, connecting exceptional builders to Fortune 500 buyers, and co-investing in extraordinary founders tackling enormous markets.

This episode, we start with a few thoughts on the VC ecosystem and some recent headlines from Dave. Then, we jump right into Dave’s amazing interview with Jon.

Remember - all of our shows are available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio.

Epidsode 30 & 31- Naval Ravikant - CEO of AngelList

Welcome back to Venture Studio, and welcome back to our fantastic two-part interview with Naval Ravikant of AngelList.

In part 1 of this interview, Dave and Naval talked about AngelList, syndicates and startup funding. In part 2, things got quite a bit more philosophical. In this interview, Naval and Dave cover power dynamics and haters in venture, the American political system - Trump, Bernie and Hilary - the disruption of the wealthy elite and, of course, South Park.

Naval was particularly prescient in his prediction of how Trump will up-end the whole system via his use of social media.

In this episode, Dave refers to this post by Naval called The American Spring: medium.com/the-mission/america…320bf712#.k4ppdt9pd

Episode 29: Matt Harrigan, Grand Central Tech

This week’s guest is Matt Harrigan, Co-Founder of Grand Central Tech. Grand Central Tech is a year-long accelerator in midtown Manhattan that actually sounds quite different from most accelerators: One year. No Rent. No Equity. GCT surrounds its companies with the best possible programming, resources and strategic partners to offer an unparalleled value proposition.

Remember - all of our shows are on venturestudio.org and on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. If you like this episode, you’ll love Episode 21 with Brad Hargreaves, founder of Common, a GCT alum. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio.

Episode 28: Zach Aarons, Real Estate Tech Investing

This week, Zach Aarons of MetaProp NYC and Millennium Partners joins us on the podcast. MetaProp NYC is an accelerator that brings together the brightest minds in real estate and technology to help quickly build promising young real estate companies.

In this episode, Zach discusses all things real estate tech - from nitty gritty pain points in each sub sector to history, macro trends, insights into the future of real estate tech.

This is everything you ever wanted to know about real estate tech investing from one of the best in the field.

Check out our entire archive of interviews at venturestudio.org or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Remember to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio to stay up to date.

Enjoy!

Episode 27: Julian Counihan, Red Sea Ventures

This week, Julian Counihan joins us on the podcast.

In today’s episode, Julian discusses Red Sea Ventures’ origins and generalist investment strategy. Then, Dave and Julian go deep into drones, bitcoin and virtual reality.

Check out our entire archive of interviews - including Dave’s epic two-part interview with Bitcoin Jesus Roger Ver - or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn and now Google Play. Remember to subscribe on iTunes and follow us on twitter @venturestudio to stay up to date.

Episode 26: Roger Ehrenberg, IA Ventures

This week, Roger Ehrenberg (@infoarbitrage), Managing Partner at IA Ventures joins us on the podcast.

In this episode, Roger discusses IA Ventures’ investment focus (and debunks a few rumors about “big data” in the process), he digs deep into portfolio modeling theory for VCs, and shares his views about the difference between novel technology and novel insights.

Check out our entire archive of interviews or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn and now Google Play. Remember to subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode and follow us on twitter @venturestudio to stay up to date.

Episode 25: Ulrich Quay, BMW i Ventures

In this episode, Ulrich Quay, the Head of BMW i Ventures joins us on the podcast.

BMW i Ventures invests in cutting-edge solutions focusing on the mobility needs of the urban population. The corporate venture arm of BWM invests in high-potential start-ups in all stages, from early stage to late stage, which are dedicated to shaping the future of global mobility.

In today’s episode, Ulrich talks about BMWi’s investment focus, some trends in mobility and vehicle technology, and a few of BMWi’s portfolio companies such as Zirx, Life360 and Chargepoint.

If you like this episode about mobility and hardware, you’ll love Dave’s interview with Jenny Fielding, head of Techstars IoT program. Check out our entire archive or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play. Remember to subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode and follow us on twitter @venturestudio to stay up to date.

Episode 24: Master Class on Enterprise Investing (Eliot Durbin)

In just seven years of operating, Eliot Durbin and Ed Sim (pictured above) have established Boldstart Ventures as one of the sharpest funds in the city with a specific focus on enterprise. I recently got the chance to talk to Eliot about the fund’s origins, “the scars on his back” from the early years, and the unique nature of investing in B2B startups.

We were also able to delve into some of the trends that Boldstart is most excited about in 2016, including Smart Data, Saas 2.0, and the Googleization of IT. Eliot shared some further insights on working with serial entrepreneurs, the rise of “shadow IT,” and the implications of increased decision-making power for engineers in big corporations. Over the course of the discussion, it was easy to see how Eliot’s precise, thematic thinking has influenced Boldstart’s growth, benefited their portfolio (including Divide, Rapportive, and Handshake) and the New York tech ecosystem generally.

Shadow IT and engineers being the end-customer for enterprise startups: (20m)

“There are entire companies that have been created to address Shadow IT."

“If you’re Procter & Gamble, you’re developing software…almost every company that’s publicly traded has to develop software in some way shape or form…The folks that are driving that acceleration and that efficiency in the enterprise are the engineers.”

On serial entrepreneurs:

“I love the longer term founders who are on their second or third companies… there is something special about backing a founder a second or third time… They come back and say, ‘Ok, now I have a really big idea.’"

The uniqueness of working with enterprise companies:

“We built BOLDStart with a purpose, to be the best seed fund for enterprise companies."

“If you’re thinking about a solution to a big problem that you have, and you’re considering leaving your job to start that company, we want to talk to you."

Investing:

“It’s kind of like golf, you get better over time. You got to just keep playing the game."

Episode 23- Jenny Fielding - Techstars IOT

This week, Jenny Fielding joined the show from Techstars, where she is the Managing Director leading the FinTech and Internet of Things programs in New York City.

In today’s episode, Jenny discusses Techstars’ upcoming New York industrial internet of things program, how entrepreneurs should approach accelerators in general and Techstars specifically, and what “traction” actually means these days.

Looking for more Techstars NYC interviews, like our November talk with Alex Iskold or Dave’s classic 2011 interview with David Tisch? You can listen to our entire catalog of episodes at venturestudio.org or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher or TuneIn. Remember to subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode and follow us on twitter @venturestudio to stay up to date.