In this episode we flip the script and the host of Tech in Chicago, Colin Keeley, interviews Nick Moran with questions from the listeners including:
- How did you meet your investment partner, Jeff Heitzman?
- What’s your investment thesis and how do you evaluate startups for investment?
- What’s an ideal case study or example of a business that you’d invest in?
- Why are you a better option to take money from than the 1000+ other early round investors?
- What are the economics of New Stack vs a more traditional fund or an angel group… At the end of the day, how do you guys make money?
- What resources, aside from the show, do you recommend to investors and entrepreneurs?
- After living in both California and Colorado, how’d you decide to move back to Chicago?
- What are the best and worst things about the startup ecosystem in Chicago?
- How can listeners help you?
- Is there anything that has surprised you about VC through your experience?
- What advice do you have for entrepreneurs and investors?
- What’s next for you, TFR and New Stack?
- Tech in Chicago Podcast
- Colin Keeley on Twitter
- New Stack Ventures
- Nick on Twitter
- Part 1 of the interview
Colin: How did you meet your partner, #Jeff Heitzman?
Nick: Yeah. #Jeff is, #Jeff was a big fan of the show. So he was a listener. And a bunch of angel investors reach out to me every week. And the ones that are in Chicago I try and meet in person. It’s always great to trade notes, exchange deal flow, build a network. So we had been meeting for gosh six months at least, just grabbing a beer here and there, breakfast. And he was the most engaged investor I had ever met. He was sourcing deal flow faster than anyone I knew. He was sizing it up. And writing out thesis to me, sending me his thesis. And it was incredibly smart, detailed, a passion came through the page. So I quickly knew he was going to be a major investor in one way or another. And he was one of my favorite people to be around because he was willing to do the work. I talked about that before. There’s a lot of people running around saying hey I’ve got a big cheque book, look at me. But he wasn’t like that. He was the guy that was putting in the work, cold emailing, cold calling startups, getting meetings with them, making investments. He had made I think 20 or 30 investments when, when we were first talking. So he was just an active guy that was the most passionate guy I had ever met in the industry. And after a couple meetings over lunch, I was looking to build a syndicate, I was looking to put one together and start directing my group over to it. And he said he was thinking about starting one too. So we, we decided to pool our efforts and, and go after it together.
Colin: What’s #Jeff’s background?
Nick: Yes. So he is a partner at #CTC , #Chicago Trading Company. So he’s a very proficient investor in the public space as well. He’s a fintech guy. He knows fintech through and through. And he actually runs their technology at #CTC. So technology is a huge advantage in the, the trading space, as many of us know. So that’s kind of his focus area. And he’s a full time partner there. So this is more of a part time gig for him. And it’s more of a full time gig for me.
Colin: So what’s your investment thesis and how do you evaluate startups for investment?
Nick: Yeah. As far as our thesis goes, I’ve got different thesis areas than #Jeff. We each have three so we try to narrow it to three. So if startups come in in my area, he kicks them over to me. And startups that come in that are in his area, you know, I bounce them over to him. But those areas for me are, are hardware. So I love physical products, I love IOT. If it’s a consumable business, that’s even better. And if there’s opportunity for SaaS on top of that, that’s great. But basically physical hardware businesses. The second major area I call tractable. So this is sort of the automation of expert tasks so that anyone can do them. Things that only scientists can do, only engineers can do, only chefs can do, giving anybody the ability to do those things, tractability. So I love businesses like that. And then my third thesis area I call democratization. So essentially the platform technologies that allow users to build and drive the value. So people building platforms, people building communities where a lot of the value is really coming from the user base. You know, the users can build products on top of that platform, on top of that community. We’ve seen businesses like #Slack transition that way. We’ve seen businesses like #Facebook transition that way. So I love a good business that has near term value and then huge long term value driven from the users. As far as #Jeff goes, he loves fintech startups. We’ve talked about that before, he’s a fintech guy. He’s really into frontier tech, which includes sort of your AI, VR and AR, Drones, Space, you know, all that sort of really frontier tech. He’s become quite a study in those areas. And then his third major area is just Chicago. So exceptional founders that are innovating in our home city, we will make exceptions and go outside of our thesis if it’s just a fantastic founder doing stuff here. As far as, you asked about our eval process, basically the thesis operates as a gate. So if a startup sends it’s pitch deck or an elevator summary pitch and they fit the thesis, then they pass the gate, right. And then they move into what we call our pre-filter, and then later our deep filter. If they’re outside of the thesis then we immediately kick them out. So that’s more than 90% of the decks that I get. If they do pass that gate, the thesis gate, they’re going to go into our pre-filter, which is just ten questions and the answer to each is yes or no. So does the founder have domain expertise in the target market would be an example of one of our questions. And if they, if they meet 80% of those yes no questions, then they move on to our deep filter, which is also another series of yes no questions. So it’s not high science, you know, it’s just binary, phases and gates. But that’s kind of the way that we take startups through our filtering process.
Colin: What’s an ideal case study or example of a business that you’d invest in?
Nick: Well you’ve had him on the show, #Tovala. So you had #David Rabie on the show. It’s the ideal startup for us. I mean, they’re based in Chicago, it’s a hardware business, with a consumable stream. So folks that don’t know #Tovala, it’s a smart oven. And it uses this companion subscription meal plan, right. So these wonderfully crafted meals their head chef over there has worked out, Alinea and some of the biggest name restaurants in the world and they craft these fantastic meals. The smart oven uses broiling and baking and convection and steaming, all these different cooking technologies. These combination ovens exist in that the high end restaurants of the world but have never existed in the consumers kitchen. So, so that’s kind of a really cool business for us. It’s hardware, it’s tractable because it’s making everybody into a chef essentially, and it’s also got the, the democratization piece because they’ve, they’ve got a long term vision of basically allowing the users to create a community and create meals around it. So I think that’s the ideal business for us. But I think one of the problems I have with other VCs is many of them get stuck because they use this top down market assessment approach. Many VCs in town and, and around the country, they look at the landscape of markets that currently exist and they use that to develop their viewpoint on where to invest, right. So if the market is too small, or the margins or economics aren’t lucrative enough, they don’t touch it. And there were some VCs that didn’t want to look at #Tovala because it was, you know, in this, this hardware space and it was doing food tech and that’s not a market that they wanted to play in. I think the nice thing about our thesis is we have the flexibility to invest in any market because our thesis areas are more thematic and each of them, hardware, tractability, democratization, they all can fundamentally redefine a market. A startup founder that’s using one of these approaches is reinventing the market in which they’re playing. And so while the traditional top down restrictive VC approach kind of bothers me, you know, it’s also creating opportunity for us because we can bet on founders and areas where others can’t.
Colin: So I pushed #David on this when I had him on my podcast. There’s so many other food startups and many of them have kind of flamed out. So you have delivery, you have ingredient services. Why do you say #Tovala and #David are going to be successful?
Nick: Well, #David’s fantastic. He’s like no other entrepreneur I’ve met. And that’s not to say he’s better than every entrepreneur, he’s just unlike anyone else. He’s smart, he’s super driven, he’s a great networker. And above all, he’s a leader. He embodies the chief executive. He’s got specialists and subject matter experts for every area, and he leads. He leans on them to do what they’re really good at. And he orchestrates the whole process. So in a lot of ways he’s unrivaled. His communication is off the charts. He’s a fantastic networker. Aside from that, I love the business because clearly it fits every major area that we love. I think a lot of these other food startups failed because their business models were crappy. You know they, they weren’t making good money, their margins were razor thin, they needed a ton of investment capital just to survive, just to market. And on top all of that, many of them are undifferentiated. You know, you see these articles #Plated versus #Blue Apron versus #Hello Fresh versus all the rest. My big takeaway from that article is they’re all pretty similar, you know, they’re all kind of the same. Yeah, the ingredients are wrapped in different packages in each. But what these guys have is they’ve got built in stickyness. With a hardware product, you’re building up walls that you don’t have in other businesses. Once you place a hardware product with the consumer, the consumer is connected to it. The consumer sees it on a regular basis. They develop an association with that brand, and it’s really hard to switch. The switching costs are high. They can’t just switch out for a different smart oven. So they’re going to get their money’s worth, they’re going to use it. And the economics are so much better for #Tovala. They’ve got good economics on the hardware side. They’ve got great economics on the consumable side. And they’ve got a lot of potential to build something even bigger. So I think the reasons why these other food startups are failing are the same reasons why #Tovala is going to be a major success.
Colin: So there are thousands of other early round investors. Why should people take money from you?
Nick: That’s a great question and it’s one that I couldn’t have answered a year and a half ago. I honestly I was not differentiated, I didn’t have anything unique. And the only reason an entrepreneur should take money from you is because you can provide them some advantage or some opportunity. I think we can provide that at this stage. I think we have a platform. We’ve got an audience. I do interviews with my founders after an investment. They’re the only entrepreneurs I have on the show. The, the show is all investors. It’s, it’s an education based program and I interview investors, which is part of what makes it unique. You know, there’s a lot of other podcasts out there that only interview entrepreneurs and, and that’s not us. But I do feature the entrepreneurs that we invest in as well as their lead investors. And we talk about, you know, why the lead investors selected them and why selected the lead. So we’ve got a platform. We’ve got a way to market. I’ve got over 4000 folks at Series A and Series B venture firms that listen to the show. And I can tell because when they subscribe to the newsletter I can see their domain in the, the email address. So we know we’ve got a big audience of folks at these firms. Now it may not be the senior partner but just getting eyeballs or, or, or eardrums on your startup is a good thing, whether it’s in the valley or in Chicago or, or anywhere. So that’s an advantage. And then, you know, we’re constantly growing our network. I interview VCs and angels all around the country. They all have their different specialties and their different areas of value. And I can pass that along to an entrepreneur. If we’ve got a hardware startup I know sort of the community of, of hardware investors and who does what and who can provide advantages in different areas. If an entrepreneur wants introduction to somebody at #Union Square Ventures, I can make that introduction. I can’t guarantee an investment with any of these people but the network is ever expanding. I’m not closed off just to one sector or one geography. It continues to grow. And then I think we’re constantly learning. Clearly from the show, the goal is to get better and better, learn more and more about the discipline. I’m not going to pretend that I was the smartest guy coming into this and I’m not going to say that I’m the smartest guy now. But I will commit that I, I will continue to learn and get better and better in this asset class. You know, venture capital traditionally has not been very innovative. We’re trying to invest in the most innovative people out there. And there hasn’t been much innovation on the investment side. One of the themes of the show and #New Stack is we don’t want to approach a modern startup industry with an outdated investment philosophy. And so if you ask any marketer the hottest content platform out there is podcasting. And we were the first ones with a podcast. And ask any VC what’s the most innovative and potentially disruptive force on the investment side. And most will tell you it’s startups raising capital through angel list syndicates. And we’ve got I think the very first syndicate and certainly the largest syndicate in the mid west. So we’re trying to look at venture capital through an entrepreneurship lens. And not operate like a bunch of stodgy white hairs in a conference room. But rather much more like the entrepreneurs that we’re investing in.
Colin: How hands on are you after investing?
Nick: We’re pretty hands off unless we’re asked. And we say that to the entrepreneurs up front. We say look, we can make introductions for you, we can create connections. I can sit on your board in a director or advisory capacity, it’s up to you. But we’re, we’re here to serve. So we kind of lay out the things that we can do for the entrepreneurs, and then we let them tell us what they, what they need. Do they want introductions, do they need help with products, do they need a sounding board for strategy, do they want to talk human resource needs and challenges with, with certain folks on the team. We’re here to serve. So we’re not breathing down any entrepreneurs neck telling them what to do. We believe our entrepreneurs are special and they’re the best. And we can only enable them. So we don’t want to get in their way.
Colin: What are the economics of #New Stack versus a more traditional fund or an angel group? At the end of the day how do you guys make money?
Nick: Right. So, I don’t know if you covered economics for VC funds on your show, I, I can’t recall. But typically VC funds are going to make money in two ways. They’re going to make a management fee and what’s called carried interest or carry. A management fee is typically a low percentage, let’s call it two and half percent or two percent of the total assets of that fund. And that’s distributed on a yearly basis to the people at the venture firm so that they can pay the bills, they get paid a salary, they can continue to operate. So if that management fee is 2% , it seems like a really low figure, but if the fund size is a $100M, the actual investable capital will only be 80 million because that 2% is typically multiplied by the 10 year fund life. So 2% times 10 years is 20%. 20% of the fund is 20 million bucks. So the venture firm is only going to be investing 80 million of the 100 million. Now the carried interest side of things is on successful exits. So that only gets paid out with good outcomes. If you invested in a startup, average time to exit is about 10 years. And let’s say you’re a, they have this very successful exit. It pays out 100 million dollars in profit. The carried interest, which is typically around 20% would get paid out to the venture firm before any of the investors in the venture firm call the LPs get their money. So if the carry was 20% and the exit event profited a 100 million dollars, the venture firm would receive 20 million and the other 80 million would go to the initial investors in the fund, the LPs, all the retail and institutional investors that invested in that fund. So you got management fees, which is a small percentage that gets paid out each year to keep the firm operating. And then you’ve got the carry, where the VC fund managers are rewarded for making really good investments. Now on the angel side of things, if you take a traditional angel group, it’s a little bit different. The management fee can’t be assessed because there isn’t a fund typically. There’s not a fund under management so you can’t take percentage fees out of that fund each year to pay the bill and pay salaries. So instead what most angel groups do is they charge their members a yearly fee. So a yearly membership fee, let’s say it’s about 3000 bucks per year. So that just buys you entry to the angel group. And then you have the ability to make investments as you wish. You can opt in to some investments that pitch, and you can opt out of the ones that you don’t like. So you’re going to pay that yearly membership fee as long as you’re a part of the angel group. And then the angel group leaders will typically get the carry. So again, similar to the venture fund, the carry may be 20%. The angel group leaders for putting everything together, sourcing the deals, negotiating the terms, being able to access the best deals, for all those reasons the angel group leader will get rewarded as well, and that’s their upside. So they’ll typically take a 20% carry. Our model is a little different. We’re kind of like an angel group but we don’t charge any fees. So there’s no membership fees. It’s not 3 grand a year to be a member. It’s free to join. So if you go to our page on the platform, you can join the angel group. You have to enter a figure as a backing amount but you can join the group for free, and you have no obligation to make any investments. Now we do get a carry. So instead of that 20% figure that most venture firms and angel groups are going to get, we actually get 15%. And the reason we’ve set it at 15% is that #AngelList will take 5% of the carry. So in total it’s still 20%, so it still looks like other professional investment groups. So we still do well in the event of a great investment and a great exit, but we make nothing, near term or long term if we make bad investments. Now all that being said, if an angel investor goes to #AngelList and joins our group and makes their first investment through #New Stack Ventures, I can get the #AngelList carry fee, that 5%, I can get that waived for the angel in perpetuity. So any deal that they do through us, through #New Stack Ventures, they will not have to pay the #AngelList carry. So in that event, they’re actually only paying a 15% carry, whereas in most other professional vehicles they would be paying 20. Again, that’s just people that have found the platform and joins through us. If somebody’s out there on #AngelList and has already made 20 investments through other syndicates or their own syndicate, and then they decide they want to join ours because we’ve got some good deal flow, I cannot get that, that carry fee waived in perpetuity. So that’s important to know. So we don’t get paid in the near term. There’s not way that we’re monetizing our investments now. So as you could imagine that’s a bit tricky. #Jeff and I, as leaders of #New Stack, conceivably will do well in the long term because we’re making good investments. Some of these will eventually exit and will have profitable outcomes. But in the near term, we do not monetize. So that’s why I monetize in other ways. So that’s why I do consulting work, that’s why I have some sponsors for the podcast now. There’s got to be a way to pay the bills in the short term. So in the absence of us going out and raising a fund, there won’t be any management fees, there won’t be any membership fees, there’s no initiation fees in the short term. I guess the final note on how me make money is we actually invest our own capital. So in each deal that we lead, we’re investing 10K. So we anchor the deal with our own capital, and then people can coinvest with us in that deal. So in the event of an exit, we would also get paid back on our investment as well as a carry on the group’s investment. A little different than some of the other organizations out there that are purely investing other people’s money. We actually invest our own as an anchor.
Colin: So what resources aside from #The Full Ratchet and #Tech in Chicago obviously, do you recommend to investors and other entrepreneurs?
Nick: You know, there’s, there’s a million blogs out there. There’s a ton of books. And they’ve been recommended on this show. You know, all zero one and venture deals and, and all the rest of them. I’m not going to tell you a bunch of business books to read. I’m not going to tell you to, to go out and read #Fred Wilson’s blog, you’ve heard that a million times. Fundamentally I think this industry and startups is, is a human industry. It’s about people. It’s about understanding the human condition. This isn’t a quant industry. It’s not all about the financials. It’s not about digging your nose into spreadsheets. So anything that, that’s going to help you better understand how people are wired, from investors to entrepreneurs to customers, I would advocate reading stuff outside of the industry that helps you understand people better. I mean, my favorite books are Lord of the flies, Clockwork orange. Recently I read this book, Ready player one, which I thought was a, a fun ride. But any of these resources that can help you understand people’s wants, people’s needs, the human condition, I think can, can serve you very well in this industry. I’ll just leave it at that.
Colin: How else have you approached trying to understand people better?
Nick: I’m, I’m married to a wife who’s a counselor. And she understands people a lot better than I ever will. So with the majority of my investments, I’ve brought her along, you know, to meet the entrepreneur at one point or another. And she asks good human questions. You know, they’re not due diligence questions about how defensible your technology is. It’s more understanding the story of the people, where they came from, why they made the choices they made, where their true passions lie. So she’s kind of my ace in the hole.
Colin: Huh, that’s unique. I’ve never heard that before.
Colin: You know, some NBA teams with NBA come by and will bring in psychologists, run interviews, and really press players
Nick: Is that right?
Nick: Well, I mean, I’m not saying it as a way to like, you know, be sneaky or something. It’s just she’s my most trusted advisor in the world. And she reads people really well. And if she connects with somebody and really likes them then I think there’s potential there for a long term healthy relationship, which is what both sides should want, the entrepreneur and the investor. Just a really long term supportive engagement. And if there’s a weird vibe from the, the very beginning, it may be best to go your separate ways because there’s, there’s better partnerships out there.
Colin: Are there any red flags that you may look for in those early interviews to see that maybe you won’t, won’t work well together?
Nick: Yeah. I mean, there’s plenty. Entrepreneurs have been angry before in meetings with me. Entrepreneurs have demonstrated a ton of frustration in a first meeting. I’ve had some entrepreneurs that have complained about, you know, how difficult the fund raising process is, which is very true but it’s, it’s nothing compared to building a business. I mean, it’s hard, fund raising is not not fun, it’s very difficult. But the process of building a business is going to be a really long painful one. So for a pre seed company that has been working on something for less than six months to, to already be at a stage where they’re ready to give up because it’s so hard, I mean, that’s, that’s kind of a red flag. Manterruptions as my wife would like to call them, I’m guilty of these, but that’s the, the male in the room sort of talking over the female and, and dominating their perspective, interrupting when they’re trying to ask something or, or share a viewpoint. So, you know, that’s something that, that we look out for. I would think those are some of the key sort of human red flags.
Colin: So after living in both California and Colorado, how did you decide to move back to Chicago?
Nick: Well, as I said before, I was, you know, I built this product, I was burnt out, I was done with that. My wife and I are both from Chicago and we love it back here. Most people laugh at me because they say I am moving in the wrong direction. But yeah, we, we basically all our people are here, our families are here. We’re sort of family first type of folks, you know, loyalty and trust are only things that come over long periods of time. And our people that, that meet that criteria are all kind of back here. And so, you know, we wanted to, to build a family and we wanted to do it at our home base. And Chicago is a fantastic city. We missed the city when we lived in smaller places. And couldn’t think of a better startup ecosystem, couldn’t think of a better home ecosystem for us. So.
Colin: So what would you say are the best things about the startup ecosystem in Chicago?
Nick: Well the best are that it has all the ingredients. It’s got the right talent. It’s got the money. It’s got the major players set up. We’ve got the incubators, the co-working spaces, the accelerators. Every ingredient you could ask for in a startup ecosystem is here. Fantastic universities, fantastic talent. However I mean, there’s, there’s major issues with Chicago. One of the worst things is that the general mentality is, is backwards looking. You know, I, I hate it when I hear investors in town talk about how we’re a, a B2B enterprise ecosystem. I mean, it’s their perspective, right. They’re, some of the most famous investors in Chicago keep preaching that. And I don’t like to hear that. I think some of our biggest successes have been consumer businesses. Look at #Groupon, look at #GrubHub. There’s many more I could name. I think that type of rhetoric and that type of talk makes the folks like #Max Levchin leave and go do #Paypal on the coast. If we were a little bit accepting of people with different sorts of ideas and different ways of doing things, including consumer startups, I think more would be built here. And they’re, they are being built. Look at a guy like #David Rabie who had the choice of building #Tovala out in San Franscisco or building it here. Now still I don’t know if, you know, that’s going to be the next unicorn, but clearly I’m a big fan. So I think great businesses can be built here. I don’t think we’re a one sector town. Any startup and any sector with the right founder and the right mentality can be built in Chicago. And we got to start encouraging that and not sending people away. You know if, if Silicon Valley thought the way that we do, they’d still be doing hardware, semi conductors and servers. Now it’s the software capital of the world. So if they put themselves in a box, they would have limited themselves. And I don’t think we should.
Colin: So what else could Chicago tech improve on?
Nick: Well, I think we need to educate folks more, which is I, I think what you’re doing and, and I think what I’ve tried to do with the podcast. Most successful wealthy investors, when I mention venture capital to them or ask them, you know, what percentage of your portfolio is allocated to venture capital? I don’t get an answer, I get confused looks. People would never even think twice or have never even considered investing in venture capital. And these are, you know, very wealthy retail investors. Now that’s different in the tech crowd. The tech crowd very much is , you know, the people that have had successful exits, they understand. But in the finance community and in some of the other communities here in town, I don’t think they have an awareness of venture capital. So I love what you’re doing because you’re talking about tech, you’re talking about startups, you’re talking about why Chicago is special. I’m clearly trying to educate investors and entrepreneurs alike on what raising capital is all about. And hopefully we can continue to get the word out, and just get more people knowledgeable and aware that there’s this whole other asset class that on the whole has fantastic returns, incredible returns. And if they approach it in a smart way, if they diversify, if they connect with some good investor leaders, we’ve got great venture firms in town, then they can make money and also support value creation and innovation here in Chicago.
Colin: So how can listeners help you?
Nick: You know, I think they’re already doing it. My biggest areas are, are deal flow, getting great startups and just building my investor group. So people that the show resonates with them, the thesis resonates with them, or they just want to follow along and see, and see what they’re doing, they can join the group. So those are, those are the two biggest ways. You know, if you, if you’ve heard our thesis today, if you’ve listening to the show and you come across great startups in those areas, send them. Even if you’re not sure that it’s in the area, send them in anyway. Because often I’ll get these emails, I don’t think this is for you but will you take a look. And then we end up investing in that business. So send the deal flow through. And if you have an interest in venture capital in any way, whether it’s with my group or not, I could absolutely connect you with, with the folks that would be a good fit.
Colin: So this is circling back a little bit, but how many of your investments are in Chicago? Are you open to investing nation wide?
Nick: We, our target is to do 50% of our deals in Chicago. We have not accomplished that target quite yet. Most of our deals are outside of Chicago. So if you fit the thesis, we’ll invest in you. But the reason why the target is 50% Chicago is we want to support the ecosystem, we want to help grow Chicago and the startup community here. Some day ultimately it would be great to have, to be a 100% Chicago focused. But if I find a #Regroup therapy or a #Cybrary or a #Scope AR or a #Tovala, you know, four of our recent investments, if I find one of those outside of Chicago I’m not going to pass because, you know, fantastic teams building fantastic businesses.
Colin: What surprised you the most in your experience in venture capital so far?
Nick: Maybe not so much surprising but more of an unfortunate reality is that there’s bad actors in every industry. It’s not exclusive to whatever industry you’re in. You know, it’s in venture capital too. And there’s also bad blood in every industry. So, you know, I’ll have interviews with some folks that come on and they do a bunch of hand waving and they say a bunch of nice things and they tell some good stories. And then when I stop the record button, they tell me some things off the record that you’d almost rather not hear. You know, people don’t want to say things on the air but they’ll, they’ll air out their dirty laundry off the air. And so there’s, there’s some shady actors in the industry. There’s people trying to one up each other. One of the most famous accelerators in the country, I’m not going to name which accelerator that is, but they’ve now seen #AngelList as competitive to what they’re doing. I’m presuming because we heard that three messages went out to their last cohorts saying do not use #AngelList syndicates for your seed rounds. And they didn’t provide any justification on why not to find #AngelList syndicate leaders to make those investments. Really there is no reason. I mean, it’s the same way that everyone is doing investing. Whether it’s a venture firm or a, an angel group, you know, we create SPVs and deals and, and make investments. There’s, there’s not some fantasy legal loophole or, or work around with #AngelList. So I think what it boils down to is there’s just bad blood. But you know, I could give you a bunch of stories. I don’t want to go too deep in, into the bad stuff because there’s plenty of good stuff to talk about.
Colin: So I’d like to end my podcast on a high note, so what advice do you have for entrepreneurs or investors that may be listening?
Nick: I wouldn’t give any advice. I’d just encourage folks in the space to celebrate their differences. This is often a place where you find people that don’t fit in. We’re irreverent, we challenge assumptions, we reject the status quo. I think #Colin by definition it’s an industry of misfits that believe things that no one else does. You know, there’s high stakes, risk taking, which is antithetical to human nature. And we’re a group of people that takes in an inordinate amount of risk, both the entrepreneurs and the investors. So one of the things I’m most grateful for was finding other entrepreneurs and startup investors. I just finally felt like I was home and in the right industry. So I just say if, if people don’t understand you and think you’re crazy, then that’s a good thing, and you’ve come to the right place.
Colin: And what do, what can we expect from you and #The Full Ratchet in the future? What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years?
Nick: Good question. I don’t know the answer. This is like the first time in my life where I haven’t had a good plan. #The Full Ratchet is going strong, it’s good. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing. It’s growing, it’s a product that people enjoy. I get feedback, I make tweaks, I do little things here and there but I don’t have any ambitious revolutionary reinvention going on with #The Full Ratchet. And #New Stack continues to grow. If that grows into a fund some day that would be fantastic. You know, I’d love to, to raise my own fund and, and get a little more strategic and a little bit more intentional with, with everything. So that would be great. But yeah, I have no firm plans right now. I’m in the exploratory mode. So we’ll see what happens.
Colin: So you’ve been an operator in the past. Are you ever tempted to start your own startup and leave the investing world?
Nick: All the time. All the time. I mean, I, I love being in an investor, but I don’t think anyone that’s doing this isn’t tempted. It’s, it’s hard. I mean, I, I feel like I’m an entrepreneur now because I did not want to go join a VC as an associate or director or partner. I wanted to build my own venture capital firm. So you know, I’m an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist I feel like, because I’m building my own firm, I’m building my own brand with #The Full Ratchet. And that’s enough of an entrepreneurial endeavor. That’s enough risk that I want to take on at this stage. But yeah, the meetings I have with friends in the industry are dominated by this idea, that idea, what about this, what can we do. So the prospect of starting my own true startup is very enticing but, you know, I think my startup now is #New Stack and #The Full Ratchet. So I’ll stick with that.
Posted in: Podcast Episodes
- 134. The Importance of Storytelling, VC EQ, and the LP-GP Dating Game, Part 2 (James R. ‘Trey’ Hart III)
- 133. The Importance of Storytelling, VC EQ, and the LP-GP Dating Game, Part 1 (James R. ‘Trey’ Hart III)
- 132. Nick Moran is Interviewed on Bootstrapping in America
- 131. How Amazon, Fitbit & Snap Won; Where Apple, Pebble & Google Did Not, Part 2 (Ben Einstein)
- 130. How Amazon, Fitbit & Snap Won; Where Apple, Pebble & Google Did Not, Part 1 (Ben Einstein)
- Investor Stories 61: Why I Invested (Roberts, Struhl, Verrill)
- Investor Stories 60: Why I Passed (Triest & DeMarrais, Tsai, Larkins & Galston)
- Investor Stories 59: Lessons Learned (Olsen, Collett, Sanwal)
- Investor Stories 58: What’s Next (Kurzweil, Buttrick, Hudson)
- Investor Stories 57: Exceptional Founders (Wilkins, Mason, Benaich)