Is Technology the career choice for the most ambitious people?
Your weekly guide to start-ups and venturing
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Welcome to tonight’s issue. This week I’ve been reading about Matt Cliffords Entrepreneur First (EF) thesis. Matt, who co-founded EF alongside Alice Bentinck, argues that what the most ambitious people choose to do with their lives profoundly impacts society, the economy, and culture. He also believes that building technology startups will become the ‘default’ career path for the world’s most ambitious people. What do you think about this? Record investment into technology certainly suggests that we have moved towards technology being king, but many continue to argue technology is over-indexed.
This week also marks the start of an interview series that I’ve been working on that showcases role-models in the industry. The first person I’ve interviewed is Pooja Patel. Pooja is a Partner at Venrex Investment Management. Read her interview at the bottom of the newsletter, and do let me know what you think!
Round-up of the news this week
Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle back a plan to develop a digital covid passport. $10.5BN was invested in tech in London in 2020 - a record year of investment. Bloom and Wild raise $102M to seed its flower delivery service across Europe.
Hundreds of start-ups go public every year, but only 20 women have ever taken US startups public. Bumble has just filed to go public. Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd was on the founding team at Tinder before starting Bumble. She filed suit against Tinder for sexual harassment and discrimination, which was at least somewhat inspirational in her quest to build a dating app that put women in the driver’s seat. Poshmark, the online thrift store, also more than doubled in an IPO, pushing its valuation above $7B.
From the investors
“I suspect that there will be a democratisation of angel investing. I think there will be an increased ability to be able to write smaller checks into start-ups” Ellen DaSilva, Angel Investor.
An interview with Ellen DaSilva, angel investor and Sequoia scout by Angela Santurbano. Ellen talks about her journey into angel investing, which started with her investing in her friend’s companies and expanded into her assessing 30-40 companies a year.
How I got a job in VC by Asta Diabate of Capital T. I particularly like her view that every failure is an opportunity to learn and do things better the next time. You might not be successful tomorrow or in a few months, but you’ll become better and better.
7 Tips for Founders Fundraising Right Now by Annalise Dragic of Saphire Ventures. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the fundraising process to a mainly virtual world. From this perspective, in some ways, it’s making it easier for female founders to raise capital from international investors. Analise has some great tips on how to fundraise in this new world.
Alibaba: from growth to value by Lilian Li. Lilian believes that the competitive environment for Alibaba is fierce, and there are few credible growth opportunities for Alibaba to access. She says that Alibaba still has a strong data moat but its days as a hyper-growth stock are over. Newer readers may not know this, but I spent two and a half years living in China and completely agree with Lilian’s point of view, especially when taken in the context that Jack Ma has now been missing for two months.
From the operators
“You can't be everything to everyone, but you can be something great for someone.” Arielle Jackson
How to nail your startup positioning by Arielle Jackson, formerly of Square & Cover. At its core, positioning is a statement. It’s a sentence or two that clearly defines the problem you're setting out to solve and why your solution is compelling. Your positioning statement should remain internal, but it’s critical to everything that follows: Aligning teams, hiring the right people, developing the best product, communicating the value of your work — the list goes on. It all starts with positioning.
Top 10 virtual training opportunities in technology. The internet is brimming with online training opportunities and self-development resources, so it can sometimes be difficult to choose the one that’s right for you. This article has compiled the top 10 virtual training opportunities for women in tech in particular.
Fashion tech startups and sustainability with Bianca Rangecroft, CEO and founder of Whering. Bianca talks about her journey to founding a company and how she has built a team around her.
19th January 2021
Angel Summit is an annual event and community hosted by SignalFire that brings together active angels from people writing their first checks to full-time angels and emerging fund managers.
This year they are partnering with Silicon Valley Bank.
New Wave is hiring for an associate to join their European VC fund.
Diversity VC is hiring for a new CEO.
Seedcamp is hiring for a Talent Manager.
Black Girl Fest has a Creative Fund offer four grants to support Black women and non-binary UK-based creatives affected by Covid-19.
Interview with Pooja Patel of Venrex
Tell us about your career to date:
I studied Economics and Finance at university before joining Deloitte’s Investment Management and Private Equity team as a graduate in 2010. I did a tiny stint after that at PwC before, very luckily, joining Venrex, the Head of Finance. I was made Partner a few years ago and have been enjoying it since the day I started. I was approached with a job spec by a friend who had just left Deloitte and turned it down because it seemed too finance-heavy. After some persuasion, I met Mark for an ‘interview’ and quickly realised the actual job was almost nothing like the job spec, and he had just copied and pasted something he found online for an ‘FD.’ I thank my little lucky stars every day for that!
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Getting out of the office. A lot of my role is around fund management, and I can spend a whole day lost in a spreadsheet without realising I haven’t spoken to a single soul or even gotten up to grab some water! I think investment managers and associates working in VC have many resources and groups open to them, but not the same can be said for those working in VC in a non-investment heavy role. My goal for this year is to reach out to potential investors interested in early-stage venture and complete more fundraising for Venrex, and I think setting a goal like this for myself will force me to take a step back from my spreadsheets!
What do you turn to for inspiration?
Books, books, and books + watching interviews from people in and outside the industry. I think most of us forget that we should enjoy the breadth of everything we spend our time doing - that involves spending time with our family/friends, our health, the work we do, and our passions and hobbies, which are often pushed to the sidelines. In a world where it seems like the ultra-high-achievers are waking up at 5 am and specialising down a narrow path to become ‘experts,’ we need to remember that spending time on the stuff that we are passionate about outside work will allow us to experience different highs and lows and meet other people we wouldn’t normally cross paths with and that in itself should provide a space where serendipity can happen. I feel most inspired when reading about sports performance (even though I’m not athletic or v sporty) and drawing. If I want to think about work, and how I can be better at my role or how I can get a particular spreadsheet to be more efficient, or what process I need to build to get more out of my team, I draw. I think that when I step back and mindlessly draw, away from my desk, my brain finally gets a chance to look at all of the pieces and put them together – which is something that just isn’t going to happen if I’m staring at my screen. I’d suggest that if people want to feel inspired, do the opposite of what you’re currently doing, change your scene for a little bit, and see what happens.
What’s next for your company?
We’re working on the launch of Venrex X, our next seed fund, in Autumn 2021. I’m currently drafting and re-drafting our deck and think I’ll spend a lot of this year meeting potential investors. This is something that I’ve not really actively done in the past, so I’m looking forward to all the learnings that will come out of it! We’re backing many more entrepreneurs and feel that the quality of entrepreneurs is just getting stronger and stronger each year – which is great for everyone in the industry. We’re finally getting a website, and our team is growing, so 2021 definitely feels like a ‘new venrex’ 😊.
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!
If you have any comments, questions, or want to chat about start-ups and venturing, then do drop a comment below.