As part of my Fundraising Cribsheet series of blogs to help entrepreneurs raise money more quickly and efficiently, I interviewed today George Zachary, a Venture Capitalist with Charles River Ventures. CRV is very well known out here in Silicon Valley, as is George, who's been in the business for 15+ years.
Previously, I interviewed Naval Ravikant of AngelList, and interviewed Shai Goldman of Silicon Valley Bank, and I participated on a panel about the differences raising an angel round vs. a Series A round. Before the end of 2010, I'll be writing in-depth about the 14 weeks my co-founder Sean and I spent raising $1MM for AppMakr, so subscribe to my blog (top right corner) if you'd like to get more in-depth updates as I share them.
Before I started the interview with George, I tweeted a request for questions, and Shai responded with a question about George's outlook for 2011 and any impending bubbles, which I asked George during the interview below.
In this awesome 45 minute interview, George touched on a range of topics, including:
And a lot more. Lots of great stuff in this interview, so enjoy it; I hope it's helpful. Please post any comments in the thread below and if I get enough interest and/or interesting questions/comments, I'll follow up with him to get you answers.
And a huge thank-you to George for being such an awesome and amazing VC to our company, and to the Valley in general. The fact that he took 45 minutes out of his day to give entrepreneurs access to the wealth of knowledge he has says a lot about him and CRV.
Here's the video:
Abhinav: please don't email me directly; we can have this conversation on the blog. I'd like to at least get some value out of it. Regarding your email below: prove it.
Hello sir, I am Abhinav khare 27/m from India. I am a builder and a owner of a construction company and also a famous doctor. here my main intention is to contact you is that i have some good plan where you can get money double in short time.but its a big investment in real state as you know India is developing country so here maximum companies are coming from UAE or USA ant investing. and also i have good marketing with political approach. so once i want to contact you and want to give my bossiness plan to you. if you think you can not invest big amt than also i have some small investment plan. so kindly give me one chance to prove myself.
Abhinav, i would normally delete your comment as spam, but really, I want to understand why you would write something like this? What makes you think that I'm going to trust someone I've never met, know nothing about, halfway around the world, to double my money? You have no credibility, sir.
Dear sir,I am entrepreneur from India and i have good plan to make your money double in short time for that i am searching a good investor.i have one doubt wheather the investor from USA can invest in India or not? if yes how i should contact with him.and if i want to present my plan infront of investor than where and how i can contact with him.
Thanks Danny! Be sure to read through all the Fundraising Manifesto posts at http://go.danielodio.com/manifesto
Daniel, you're one of the best interviewers on startup subjects that I've come across: pithy questions and targeted answers, good followups, and even referrals to find more information. And George and all your guests have provided straight answers that are really helpful to entrepreneurs who are looking at raising money. It's great to know that at least one VC has faced down eviction notices. It puts things into perspective. No more whining from me as I'm wasting time actually cooking my ramen!
Absolutely - glad you found it so helpful Hilary.
In fact, I'm writing a series of blog posts about my experience raising $1MM for AppMakr. The raise took us 14 weeks, and my goal is to help other entrepreneurs do it more quickly and efficiently. You can read about my "Fundraising Cribsheet Manifesto" at http://go.DanielOdio.com/manifesto . Hope it's helpful
Thank you Daniel for asking the right questions and thank you George for your time in answering all of them! As an entrepreneur looking to gain as much valuable insight to seed funding and venture capital - this video was a great start! Between this video and your (Mr. Zachary's) interview with Irina; I am getting a better feel as to what you are looking for when hearing about new start ups. Thanks again to you both for sharing!
I was invited by the awesome connector Shai Goldman of Silicon Valley Bank to the "Brains to Ventures" dinner and panel. B-to-V is group of European entrepreneurs and investors. The dinner was arranged while they were touring Silicon Valley. On the panel were:
Here are my highlights (in "live blog" format) from the event, with a video of the event below.
Bill Tai & Matt Cohler: Be disruptive... And profitable if you can... But profitable without being disruptive is not interesting to Silicon Valley... Bernd Hardes disagreed, said predictable is better for him.
Matt Cohler: "It's best to figure out how to be good at being lucky"
Bill Tai: "Disruptive ideas come from disruptive people"
I was invited by the awesome connector Shai Goldman of Silicon Valley Bank to the "Brains to Ventures" dinner and panel. B-to-V is group of European entrepreneurs and investors. The dinner was arranged while they were touring Silicon Valley. On the panel were: Jan Bomholt, moderator - partner at B-to-V Gunnar Piening, European entrepreneur and partner at ECONA AG Bill Tai - partner at Charles River Ventures Matt Cohler - General partner at Benchmark Capital (also early at LinkedIn and Facebook) Bernd Hardes - with OSTE Investment GmbH and previously CEO at the German company Entertainment Shopping AG Here are my highlights (in "live blog" format) from the event, with a video of the event below. Bill Tai & Matt Cohler: Be disruptive... And profitable if you can... But profitable without being disruptive is not interesting to Silicon Valley... Bernd Hardes disagreed, said predictable is better for him. Matt Cohler: "It's best to figure out how to be good at being lucky" Bill Tai: "Disruptive ideas come from disruptive people" Jan Bomholt: European entrepreneurs start with technology while us entrepreneurs start with business problem.... Matt Cohler disagrees, saying that all entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world start with a problem to be solved Matt: "there's China... And then the rest of the Internet" Silicon valley VCs don't like to invest in companies they can't drive to... or some would say "bike to" Gunnar Piening: Advice to European entrepreneurs: "I realized that to get traction in the US, I would need somebody on the board with a vested interest in the company"... He found that with August Capital... its investment didn't change the company, but changed the pace at which the company wad growing... His was the first company August Capital invested in outside of the US (then jokingly said "outside of California" even)... Some fund rules would not even allow investments outside us... Bill Tai has done 16 IPOs (as investor)... One on Hong Kong exchange, the rest are in the US... "but remember, I started in '91... with a stellar exit environment for a decade"... Now potential IPO activity is a function of how the capital markets behave... CRV is mostly invested in the US, with 65% of its portfolio companies in California... Chinese companies only in Internet space... "There are some business models in China that would never work in the US." Matt Cohler: "Focus on maximizing your upside, not protecting your downside" ... Silicon valley is the place in the world that "maximizes your ceiling" in terms of technology companies... It's "usually the right answer" to move to Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur. Matt Cohler: Hollywood & silicon valley - "we are like studio executives" ... Look at a script and see who the lead actor is... Silicon Valley is the nucleus of the labor pool... jut like movies in LA, having this pool of talent allows entrepreneurs & investors to "put it together quickly"... "If you want to amass a company with an employee pool like Facebook or google, this is the place." Bernd Hardes on Berlin as center of entrepreneurial activity... "take everything you just said (about Silicon Valley), divide it by 10, and you're there" Jan talking about Aydin Senkut and Jeff Clavier... "They can move fast because they only have $15mm under management..." Bernd Hardes says he is "looking to play it safe... to take old ideas like web portals and make them work better... 30% to 40% improvement per year is OK... don't need a 10x return like Silicon Valley does." Berlin is very hip, so all the "cool guys are going there", and because there are so few tech companies, salaries are 1000 to 2000 Euros per month. The UK is beating France and Germany on investments & capital... "If Berlin is so great, why is UK winning?" Matt cohler says that historically, Internet startups based in Germany are addressing German market in German.... but In the UK, products are in English addressing a potentially global market, so that's one reason for the UK's dominance in Europe... Also institutional investors in Germany are reluctant to invest in early stage companies... And exit chances in Germany are limited... Bill tai says the history of the UK is to finance things globally for centuries; that plays a part too... "The UK has penchant for risk and risk capital" Matt Cohler says "the entrepreneur is fantastic" and talks about Researchgate (a professional network for scientists)... it's a German based company that Benchmark invested in... Matt commented "it's a little like dating... You know pretty quickly"... when he went to coffee w/ the Researchgate CEO he wasn't planning on investing, but "I left the meeting saying "I'm going to invest in this company"" Bernd Hardes on "The next big thing": "I Have no clue, and if I did, I wouldn't tell you" ... I'm not trying to find the next big thing; I'm trying to male sure the next big thing finds me." CRV was the first institutional investor in Twitter, and it happened "almost by accident, with Odeo needing funding". " I thought it was a very interesting tool" said Bill Tai... but "none of us knew it was the phenomenon that it became." Matt cohler (an early Facebook employee): "One person saw how big Facebook could be, and that was Mark [Zukerberg]"... It was very rare and very special... Jan, as moderator: "Everyone says Facebook will kill foursquare... Why do you believe Facebook won't kill Twitter?" ... Bill Tai answering: "Facebook is the instantiation of your true network on the web, centered around photos... Twitter is a way to broadcast what is on your mind... Like microblogging... so they're very different' Matt Cohler: Facebook and MySpace are very different... In 2003 people who made social networks were very hesitant to ask users to put your real name... Linkedin was one of the first to do that... Facebook did the same thing... That little thing was very significant... On MySpace, you don't always know the person's real name... "One of the things I remember Mark saying early on was "we are not trying to keep Facebook cool... We are trying to make Facebook useful" ... [Facebook] took MySpace and made it useful. Bill Tai, on predicting the "next big thing": The web has become pervasive and is bringing out the authenticity in people - this is the difference between MySpace and Facebook - Facebook is the real person, MySpace is the "LA version"... The virtualization of yourself will overshoot the actual person... Lots of interesting things about what identity is... Question from audience: "Are Americans more open to "opening their kimono?" than Europeans?" Matt Cohler: At a high level, the while world is moving to openness... the legal environment in Europe around privacy and information sharing in Germany is very strict... Question from audience: "How important is operational experience to being a VC?": Matt Cohler - it's important ... There are various ways to do that... No right or wrong way to become a vc... "I don't know". Here's a video of the panel:
One of my favorite video series is the Foundation interviews by Kevin Rose (Formerly of Digg.com). I love the video quality and the quality of the interviews. Kevin interviews mainly silicon valley entrepreneurs. He has interviewed people like Elon Musk (Tesla), David Copperfield (Magician), and Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com).
I recommend you visit the foundation.kr site and watch any videos that jump out to you. If you are not sure where to start I recommend these interviews.
I still haven't watched all of the interviews. If one of the interviews really jumps out to me I will add it to the list above.