117. Index Investing, Mastering Dealflow & Seeing Everything at Series A, Part 2 (Galen Mason & Brian Axelrad)
Galen Mason & Brian Axelrad of Service Provider Capital join Nick to cover Part 2 of their unique approach to using service providers to source high volume dealflow, LPs and to employ an index investment fund strategy. We will address questions including:
- Their concerns about adverse selection and not receiving allocations in the most competitive deals
- More on their process of collecting and vetting dealflow
- How much dealflow they are actually seeing
- How they help portfolio companies post-investment.
- And, as always, we’ll wrap up w/ some standard questions, key takeaways and a tip of the week.
- Service Provider Capital
- Galen on Twitter
- Brian on Twitter
- Jason Heltzer’s blog post: The Melting Liquidation Preference
- Part 1 of the interview w/ Galen and Brian
1- Discovering Opportunity in the Dealflow
As attorneys in the venture industry, Galen and Brian quickly realized that they, and other service providers across the ecosystem, had early access to nearly every deal. This is a major information and access advantage, but the service providers didn’t have the means to cut large checks into these companies. While the investors that did have the means, are unable to get access to this volume of opportunities. Therein was the value. If they could connect the key points of access with the major sources of capital, everybody wins. And, in parallel, they brought down the entry barriers for service providers to participate. Maybe your standard service provider can’t cut a $100k per deal, but maybe they can cut a $100k check to a fund that invests in all qualifying deals. In this way, these service providers could:
* Help the companies they work with
* Share in the upside of their clients
* and get diversification across a very risky asset class
And this “cell tower network” of Service Providers, as they called it, includes:
* Real Estate
* HR Services
* Outsource CFO
* Venture Capitalists
* Wealth Managers
* Web Design
The final note here that they mentioned is that the key service providers that seem to get earliest access to dealflow include lawyers and outsource CFO.
2- An Index Fund with Ongoing Value
Galen and Brian are employing an index-like strategy. They are attempting to invest in every credible series A deal in their region. Recall Jerry Neumann’s comments from the episode on non-Unicorn investing, that if one were able to invest in every venture deal, they would yield a percentage return in the low to mid 20’s. Now that spans all geographies and all stages but it’s still an astonishing figure. And the guys have chosen the midwest and the series A stage for their index. Are they going to be a top performing fund? Nope. But will they have much more diversified exposure to venture in their core region? Absolutely. If you’re an LP seeking 10x returns, this is not the fund for you. If you’re comfortable with a diversified, more modest return, you believe in your region is an underserved area and you want to support the tech ecosystem through investment, SPC may be a great fit.
3- Mechanics of the Model
The first step for Galen and Brian was to…
1. Build a network of service providers in their startup ecosystem
2. Then Service Providers that work w/ early-stage companies as clients, begin referring dealflow to the SPC Managers
3. Also, those same Service Providers become the core base of LPs in the fund
4. Then the guys put referred deals through the following checklist criteria:
* Is the company in the Midwest?
* Is the round being led by a credible, institutional investor?
* Is it a preferred equity round?
* Is that institutional investor investing $500k or more
* Is the round size $1M or more
* And if the answer to each of these is yes, SPC invests. If not, SPC will make introductions to other investors that may help the startup fulfill this criteria.
And their involvement, of course, does not end upon investment. They provide unique, ongoing value to the startups they invest in. They have the cell tower network. They know each of the service providers and how they can provide value. When a startup needs office space, financial help, talent acquisition help, legal, or development work, they can call on Galen and Brian for intros to the provider that’s the best fit for what they’re doing.
Tip of the Week: of the Week: Hubs and Spokes… Product AND Channel Innovation
Nick: Are there concerns that you will not get access to competitive allocations where the entrepreneur can choose their investors?
Galen: I, I live in fear of reading pre-max term sheet now. Used to read it then, found it interesting and now you’re like what?! Huh?! You know, and you’re, who did that?! You know, so, specially now as we get things up and running, where you’re really trying to make sure, you know, our cell tower network is not up yet. So I live in constant paranoia. But #Brian
Brian: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, that’s our goal. Like that’s our job and that’s what we’re trying to do is to just to make sure that we’re, that we’re getting everything and, you know, like #Galen said we’re not going to get everything but we need to give it an earnest shot to try to get into everything. And we’ve had situations where there was a Series A that, you know, a new investor comes in, nobody get, nobody else gets to participate other than, you know, one fund that came in with the lead. And we had a conversation with the founder and said hey, can you make a little bit of room for us? And he said why? And I said, you know, I could tell you all day long about our value proposition. You know what our value proposition is. If you reach out to us you’re going to get help from us one way or another. So you don’t need that. You’re just going to do it because you like us, and because you appreciate what we’re doing. And we got an allocation. And I think founders are very responsive and receptive to the notion of what we’re doing. And, you know, we’re never going to try to strong arm our way in. We can’t, right, we don’t have, nobody really has that ability in venture, to be honest. And so for us it’s just a matter of I mean there are deals that we find out about after the fact and we chase them. And we’ve gotten into some. There’s some that we’re chasing now. And that’s been the experience of the guys out of the Rocky Mountain region. So they find out about a deal in Phoenix and they didn’t get into it. And they start getting on the phone with their LPs in the Phoenix area and they say hey, can we get in? Or maybe it was a fund out of Boulder that led the deal in Phoenix. And they call up the VCs and say hey, do you guys have any room? So, you know, we, we try for that. We know it’s not going to be perfect, but that’s the name of the game, right. And part of, for us, you know, #Galen mentioned it doesn’t matter what the company is doing, you know, if it fits the criteria. I think some people, I’ve had conversations with potential LPs who ended up not investing because they just don’t get that. They don’t get like well but you’re not doing like what I thought VCs are supposed to do due diligence and they’re supposed to vet out the company and all this stuff. And we said but if you’re asking those kinds of questions, it’s probably not the right fit. We’re focused on people who really understand the strategy. And its not so much they don’t have questions. They do have questions. But it’s questions more about how does it work as opposed to people who have questions about does this strategy work. And whether the strategy works essentially gets to do you believe in #Galen and I combined with the LP network, that that’s going to be the thing that gets those allocations.
Galen: Yeah. I, I just would say so we do due dil-, I mean, our diligence is on does it fit our deal criteria, who is the lead, and that’s following like this VC entity, and who, they’re definitely doing diligence. #Brian and I both know from representing companies that they’re looking at things. Although I would also say it’s not #Brian and #Galen, I would love to say I’m that amazing, but we are sort of melting into the sixty to eighty service providers throughout the midwest region, it’s that entire group.
Galen: And their deal flow. And we are the, you know, we’re the, the minders of that. Right? The one running the electric signal through the air but it’s that group that, that’s the market.
Brian: And it, and the allocation question that you’re asking, gets to the core of what we’re doing, because the whole thing about does it drive better returns, well, this, our fund’s not an alpha strategy, right? We’re not out there saying we’re the better venture capitalist. That’s not why you’re providing money to #Service Provider Capital as an LP. This is an index like strategy. And the way we do that is through the allocations and making sure we get into the deals. So the question is exactly right on point. And there’s some people that it resonates with and some people that it doesn’t. And our job is to prove that out. You know, I mean, I think it’s easier for us to look at the way that the Rocky Mountain fund has evolved over time. And what they’re tracking is good proof of concept, that they’ve been able to do what they’ve sort of set out to do, and we’re sort of tracking similarly. And the cadence of deal flow and stuff that we’re seeing sort of bears that out. But the, it’s, you know, our fund life is, has still got a few more years and that’s where we have to just keep making sure we are earning our keep so to speak.
Nick: Cool. So, I do want to talk a little bit more about the deal flow. Can you talk about your process for collecting the deal flow and vetting it to whatever degree that, that you do vet?
Galen: Well, so, we’re a network of service providers. And when we started our network of service providers it was #Brian and me. So that, so that results in hey #Brian, you got any Series A deals? What are your Series A deal criteria, #Galen? And we talk about that. And so it’s very easy when it’s just the two of you. And then you go and we get another service provider and another service provider. And each conversation results in us speaking with them about hey, are you interested, and they may invest. And then they are also our early warning radar systems. So they understand the deal criteria. In addition to that, any given founder may have multiple service providers around them. So you have multiple chances of one of your service providers raising their hand and bringing it to your attention. The venture capitalists themselves are using service providers. So one of their service providers may bring it to your attention. I guess on top of that, and even if, if it’s a service provider that has not invested in our fund, they think it’s just crazy. They look better if they say to the founder hey, I, I know another place where you could get some extra money. I mean, that’s part of building relationships with your clients.
Galen: So that’s how we, I think manage our deal flow and identify it is through the very LPs that, that, that were having the conversation.
Nick: So was it they will identify a candidate for funding and then they raise their hand? Or do you have some of
Galen: Yeah you get a, you get a
Nick: slack channel that
Galen: you get a phone call. So, so we have a, this is amazing too as lawyers who are, so we have a CRM, you know, a very simple CRM that, I think we’re thinking of upgrading that, but very simple CRM that we use to track all manner of things. Right? So for me personally as a lawyer, boy if I went out suppose to my lawyer friends, hey, you know, what do you think CRM stands for? They’d, they’d look at me funny and go look for like a code section or something, right. And, and you talk to business people and they think that’s insane. So we track those things through CRM. But it, it’s an email, it’s a phone call to someone, you know, at our #SPC account and information that says, hey, what do you think, you know, how about this, what do you think about this? And it, and it may come from a founder who’s become aware of us. It may come from the venture capitalist that’s leading the deal. It may come from a venture capitalist that’s already participating in the deal. It may come from anyone of the service providers, right. And so, it’s also because of our design, pretty easy for, for us to be super quick. Hey, okay, what size is the round, is it this, is it over time? All those folks learn. Here’s what it is. It’s super clear. So the market in a way I think begins to sort of vet itself for what comes our way. But we’ll also talk early before sometimes if someone’s okay, this is going to be really hard to get into, we want to be sure they meet you ahead of time. That type of stuff. So I’d say it’s like anyone you’re, you know, you’re using your phone and your email and your text and your voxer and everything else to keep in touch with folks.
Nick: I’m very impressed at your less than 24 hour turnaround on email, #Galen. Because my, my email turnaround is not nearly that good with, with all the, the inbound and outbound flying here and there. So, you must do a better job of managing it than I do.
Galen: Oh, you know, I don’t know, you maybe caught me on a good day. And often times I, you know, you’re answering questions off the top of your head, right? So my clients are all going to skin me when they hear this because like well, jeez, it took you a day or two. And I think that that’s where #Brian and I were talking about this like well there’s a difference between answer a question and go back and produce something, right? But I saw, that reminds me, I saw a note the other day from I think it was from #Guy Turner, who is using this I want to say, it said notion, and it said #Guy’s email response time on average is 53 minutes or something. And I think maybe I thought is he using some automated system to tell people how fast he’s responding, which is one, super cool but also I think probably super dangerous if something, you know, there should be like a, hey, my wife just had a baby, turn this off please or something like that, right. Like,
Nick: That’s incredible!
Galen: Anyways. So I’ve been meaning to look into that. It’s funny you say that, and thank you.
Nick: Awesome! So, just last point on deal flow here, how much do you think, how much would you estimate you’re seeing?
Brian: So I think relative to what we’re looking for, we’re seeing the vast majority and we find out about it one way or another. So if it’s not inbound, we figure it out. So we’re, we’re operating pretty high. I mean, I don’t have, I can’t think of a percentage there, but I would say we’re, you know, it’s, it’s pretty high in terms of what we’re, we’re targeting.
Nick: Do you know how many Series A deals have, have been done over 2016 here in the midwest?
Brian: Well, I can tell you so, so just in terms of what we’ve done, right. So in the last five and a half to six months, we’ve closed 10, 11, sorry, we just did one this week. 11 deals in about five and a half, so we’re looking at a cadence of about 2 a month. With 4 to 5, I want to say in the hopper where we’ve sort of committed and we’re just waiting for the company to close the round. They’ve got a term sheet in hand and we’re just waiting for wire instructions and confirmation that the lead fund had. And those will close out in the next, by the end of the year. So, you know, at that cadence I would say we’re probably, I mean, if we’re missing deals, it’s across the three quarter period. It’s maybe one a quarter that we might be missing.
Galen: Yeah, I think there’s, there’s, I am aware now of two that we missed that I’ve, I’m almost certain from what we know would have fit our criteria and we’re working on it. We’ve been able to actually open a couple deals before, we’ll pay legal costs to get in. Because again I’m the paranoid guy, right, remember, that wants perfection in our index.
Galen: A couple other things too I’d say on that is, you don’t just sort of throw this up and hope it works. Like we’ve done a good bit of research where you go and you say okay, well, here’s our theory, here’s what we’re going to do. How many deals, say we’ve looked at this going and back 3 years, how many deals would we have seen? And it turns out if you look at the midwest you see somewhere between 20 and 30, what we call it 25, depending on how you’re measuring deals in the midwest region as a whole. Now you’ll hear about a lot more deals. But you got to take out Series B deals, take out Series C deals. You take out the deal that looks like it fit from the media but if uncle Joe was the lead putting in, you know, a million dollars, that’s not a fit for us. We’re looking for the institutionally led, and/or if there was an institutional lead and they only put a quarter of a million in, you know, that’s not a fit for us.
Brian: Yeah I have had deals where I’ve seen news blog posts and stuff, xyz company raised $2M and I’ll text #Galen. And as soon as I see it, I’m like did you hear about this deal? And he’s like, it wasn’t a fit. So somehow he, it was on his radar. And vice versa, right. He’ll do the same thing and say, hey, did you hear about that deal? And it’s like yeah, I did, it’s, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a fit for us. So we, we see that’s why I say like out of the total market we see a ton of stuff that’s not a fit. I don’t think either one of us could approximate what we see out of the total market relative to, you know, like all the deals that don’t fit. But sort of the math, right, because I like to look at like the numbers. So if we sort of estimate that, we think in the broader midwest there is probably 6 deals a quarter. And we have a sense of how many of those are Chicago based, as the sort of, you know, the hub for the broader midwest, and how much are outside Chicago markets. So call it maybe four and a half and one and a half. If there’s one and a half deals in the broader midwest that fit our criteria a quarter, that’s picking up or maybe it’s two, right, four and two, we sort of see that and then we measure ourselves against that. And that sort of, that’s still that two a month. And so we think to the extent that there is a seventh deal a quarter, right, that we miss, that means that for the, you know, we would be expecting to track this amount. And we say, okay, well we got this, right. They’re right there or there’s one or two that we missed or maybe there’s one or two that haven’t been announced that we missed that we don’t know about, right. That’s, but we, we tend to hear about stuff and then like #Galen said, we chase it, we still try to get into it. There’s a deal that we missed from months, months back and we just sort of talked about whether or not there’s a, a new opportunity for us to get in based on new relationships that we’re going to explore. So we’re never going to give up the fight if we think that there’s a way for us to get in. Because that’s the way that things work. And, and there tends to always be a way, just whether or not somebody thinks that it’s worth it for them. And we try to make it worth their while.
Galen: Yeah, I think the last point too that maybe also kind of what you’re getting at #Nick, is I’ve seen pitch decks and I’ve seen whether it’s in like the LBO private equity space, the venture space, where they say well we saw 3000 deals last year. We’ve looked at 100, we’ve, you know, we went to term sheet on 20 and we closed 3. That type of stuff. It’s this idea of what’s your, what would be a #Service Provider Capital midwest 3000 equivalent? Part of it is going to be this like silent unknown. So for example, given that we are kind of merged into these service providers, we never know what they’re seeing but not sending our way. So we’re not always measuring what I think a traditional investor would call their deal flow, right?
Galen: It’s pure pre-vetted in a way, which again to me just makes the model that much cooler.
Nick: Hey, you know, my, my selection process couldn’t be more different but I certainly appreciate the elegance and the simplicity of what you guys are doing. It’s, it’s very clear and you guys can be decisive. Whereas it’s very difficult for, you know, a thesis driven, sector driven, theme driven investor to do that.
Galen: Yeah, and hopefully we can be, you know, once we get to know folks like you that are doing deals, we can help. This is again me reiterating the value of it is we can be helpful to you. Because if we see these things, it’s like nope, you got to go to #Nick.
Nick: Yeah. And you already have actually. We don’t need to get in, into all the examples here today, but already been very helpful to me professionally. So to wrap this up, you guys have already touched on this but can you talk about the ways you provide value to port-cos post investment?
Brian: Sure. So, I think I’ll, I’ll touch on more, then #Galen you can riff off that. But the thing that I find the most intriguing whenever there’s an opportunity is, you know, like I said sort of at the very beginning, like we’re not trying to get introduced as service providers. We’re trying to get introduced as a fund to invest in the companies.
Brian: And so when we have a portfolio company, we try to be very sensitive to like we don’t want them to feel after the fact like oh this was just a chip for these guys to get in the game to drum up business. So where we see real value is this sort of cell tower network across ecosystems. So we have a couple of portfolio companies that are in the midwest that are looking to expand into new areas. One of which in particular, a couple actually, have said hey, aren’t you guys founded out of the Boulder area, I was thinking about that being our next office, can you hook us up? And they’re not necessarily asking for a real estate broker. They’ll obviously if they want one they can get one. What they’re looking for is somebody to tie them in to the Boulder community. And now we’re the perfect fit because all of a sudden one email or text to our guys out in the Rocky Mountain region will get them in front of dozens upon dozens, anybody they want basically. Whether it’s investors, service providers, whoever. And all those people have their own networks obviously. It’s like the LinkedIn thing, right? Second degree contacts. But like oh you’re in this industry, you’re in a real estate industry, you want to want to talk to real estate people, not necessarily brokers but you want to talk to real estate people in the Boulder community? Sure, we know people at these development firms, and we know people at these places, and so on. So I love that. I, that’s I think the thing where they’ve closed their financing, they may have future financing needs, but that’s not what they’re asking for. They’re not coming to us saying, hey I need a lawyer, I need an accountant, that’s not, you know, that’s, we’re around if they need it but that’s not what we’re trying to do. It’s really when they come to us and they say, hey, we know you guys are across regions, you’ve got this ecosystem connectivity that you can help us dial into, we’d love to tap into that, how can we do that? And then we just sort of say, go, right. And we just sort of hand them off to our partners and boom, it happens.
Galen: Yeah, I would say much the same thing. So I might draw a distinction between we know to say we have mapped, right. So when we put the cell tower somewhere, there’s a lot of thought that’s gone into like hey put it on this corner of the farm because it’s better located, right. So here are the three lawyers in Madison. Here’s the two accountants in Madison. That they’re doing, you know, between the group 90% of the work. So our value is, is, what we want to come in as is a fund but our value is the service providers and their network. And, and the I think that I’m very careful to never promise hey, I can do this for you. But I can tell you here are the resources that we have at our disposal and how I will, I can promise you that I will try to use them. When you look at what those resources are, it kind of speaks for itself that well jeez this better than just, you know, my neighbor’s ten grand or, or something like that. And I think the real case is making that case to the venture capitalists too who are leading these deals and
Galen: saying jeez that, that’s great to get that sort of network along for, for what we’re leading.
Brian: Yeah, I, just to follow up on that, because I think it’s a really great point, that we’re trying to be in the business of signal not noise, right. So it’s not just so much that somebody says hey do you, can you tap us into Boulder. And then it’s just, as #Galen pointed out, a bunch of people that, that we know out there. It’s these are the people who are core to the tech community or the startup community in Boulder. Here are the people who are core to the startup community in Madison. We can dial you into those people in particular so that when you sit down with them for coffee for an hour, that’s a really, really valuable use of your time. Because we know as much as anybody that time is sort of your most precious commodity, right. So we want to be in the business in making sure people are spending their time wisely, both with us and with the people that we connect them to. And so I think that’s really it’s, it’s both helping connect them to people but also making sure that they’re talking to the core people in the communities they want to be talking to.
Nick: Guys, if we could address any topic related to startups or venture, what topic do you think should be addressed and who would you like to hear speak about it?
Brian: So, I think you had mentioned earlier, #Jason Heltzer at #Origin, who’s one of the partners over there. He just, this past week or so, wrote a blog post that talked about the way that financing, downstream financing, so Series B, C and so on, people need to be thinking more creatively about how they structure financial outcomes. And I thought it was really, really insightful, #Jason’s blog, I think it’s called #Venture Evolved. And I think he also posted on LinkedIn. So if people are interested, they can check that out. But I emailed #Jason afterwards and I said that’s, you know, people don’t talk about that, and I think that’s a really important point. And one of the things I was thinking about afterwards was entrepreneurs tend to undervalue simplicity at the beginning of their, sort of journey, right. They want to do this with, you know, equity incentives. And they want to do this with this structure, and it gets complicated. And #Galen and I are always like, we roll our eyes and say look, it’s
Galen: It’s going to cost more money
Brian: Well, and it’s just like keep it simple. Like the ultimate sophistication is simplicity. And we, we try to train people or coach them into that mindset at the beginning. What happens is there’s a shift along the way, whether it’s because they’re listening to their lawyer, or they’ll listen to their investor or they just get it over time that they then overvalue simplicity and undervalue sort of the nuance of like reality as they get further and further along their path. And so #Jason’s point I think, and the part where it was motivated is it was addressed in part to investors as much as entrepreneurs, is as you get further along you have to really be thoughtful about why the conventional standards don’t necessarily always apply the same way. And you have to be more thoughtful about it. And that’s something I don’t think people talk about at all. I think there’s a lot of people who talk about it at the beginning, you want to do things simply, you wan to use the standard type of stuff and cost. But people don’t talk about as you go further, that’s where you’re supposed to pick up on subtlety, that’s where you’re supposed to pick up on nuance, and you really need to think about incentives. And #Jason’s point was motivated by the broader market constraints, which is if all these overvalued companies that now need to go out and raise more money. And what’s going to happen? Are we going to have this flood of down rounds? And #Jason’s point was nobody wants a down round. Can we be creative about how we think about the financial outcomes so that we can keep rounds not necessarily being down rounds but figure out a way to create the right risk return profile for companies and their investors, and the crazy mess of incentives that you have from angel investors, early institutional investors, late institutional investors, founders, management team and just rank and file employees. And it’s crazy, right. And people don’t talk about that enough, I don’t think. And I thought #Jason’s post, which I encourage everybody to read, was a really great start of that conversation. So I’d love to hear him talk more about it.
Nick: So I’ll check it out. But really quickly, what are some of the areas that, in terms of time and energy, are wasted on early on, maybe certain type of terms or structures? Are there a couple, two or three obvious ones that lots of time and energy go into, where maybe simplicity is, is much more elegant and, and a better choice?
Brian: Yeah, I mean, people think, people like to do things like multiples classes of stock. Or with the Facebook thing, people thought about how can founders control, you know, voting rights and things like that? I mean, just like pick pretty much anything that somebody reads in an article and says, oh, that’s interesting, I’d like to do that too. Right? It’s like just start a plain corporation, you know. Think about how the founders are going to get their equity. Make sure everybody invests but don’t do crazy investing schedules about like milestones and things like that, unless you have a really, really, really critical business objective you’re trying to achieve. But sometimes just being around for the ride time. #Galen and I, we are founders of a fund and we are on investing schedules, and they are time based. And we’re the most sophisticated audience out there probably. But we get that time is a proxy for efforts. And it’s appropriate. And if I decide tomorrow to sort of cut the hitch that ties me to the wagon, it’s like okay, well, I didn’t put in the time to see it be successful, so why should I share in the value of it. And I think that’s understanding that you don’t have to tie yourself in knots to get to the right outcome. Think about what the, the conventional structures are. And there’s a reason for it. And if, the, the right conversation to have with a lawyer, accountant or an investor is, okay you’re telling me this is standard, why is it standard? Right? Because it evolved for a particular reason. And I think if people ask that question, well why did it evolve this way? People who, who understand this stuff should be able to explain this is why it’s that way. And this is why it makes sense. As opposed to starting a conversation, I saw this really interesting creative thing in an article and I want to mimic that, which goes completely against conventional structures.
Galen: Yeah, I would just, to put on my Foley hat, I put it as, look a startup is sort of a business with terminal cancer. If you don’t get it fixed, you’re dead, right? So you know, every single thing, that, that’s your runway, right? And every single thing that you do, everything, every waking moment needs to be to fix that. Right? And if you want to talk about going in the kitchen and making an amazing spaghetti meal because it would be good for dinner tonight with the family, it’s cool if you want to do that because that’s an important part of your psyche to get up and fight your death fight everyday. But if that’s not the reason and you’re just kind of lost on it, I’ll really try and steer people back to this is a bad idea.
Nick: Guys, what startup investor has inspired and influenced you most and why?
Galen: I certainly read a lot of the rags. I guess, so to speak, the blogs and everything, #TFR included, right?
Galen: I listen too. And, so we’re probably a little bit different. So for me, I would say here we are in this new space in the midwest, in the biggest city in the midwest, now through this vehicle touching on people throughout the midwest. So investors are a little bit different. But for me there’s this guy named #Jack Levin who was a lawyer at #Kirkland in the late 70s early 80s, I think he’s still there. But he really began to mix things up in private equity LBO market. And I think the, what he and that firm were able to do over time is very emblematic of what is and can be done here now in the midwest. And that’s led to some pretty amazing things. I think when you add in technology in order of magnitude, greater things can happen here. So that person as an investor with the service provider hat is a little different. I’m interested in how they took their path. But then the other thing I would say is the midwest is a new, it’s a new market, right? So you have to look at all these funds and investors that are now around. And I have sort of taken inspiration from them. So it’s, you know, #Hyde Park Venture Partners, #Chicago Ventures, all these people that 10 years ago weren’t here, they were involved in the space in some way. And they’re really honing their craft and their networks. And that again, going back to kind of what I want to do is work with folks that are doing really cool things. And every one of those folks, #Math, #Network Ventures, they’re all just out building this market. So every time we talk to one of them, you’re just sort of like what do you do and how are you doing this? What are you focussed on, right? What are you interested in at #New Stack, right? Things like that. It’s just super interesting to hear. So.
Brian: Yeah, I mean, and looking outside the midwest, maybe I think, I constantly read #Fred Wilson and #Mark Suster, for whatever reason. I mean, they’ve established their brand, so they don’t need to continue to put out thoughtful conversation pieces about venture. They do it anyways. And I think part of it is because at heart they’re teachers, they’re coaches and they want people to know how to do this stuff and learn it themselves. And I mean, I read their stuff all the time. I get #Fred Wilson’s, you know, short couple paragraphs emailed to me every morning. I read it every morning. And I think it’s just, it’s, it’s, they are having the conversations that should be had. And sometimes they branch out to other things, but a lot of the times it’s like this is my experience, and sometimes it’s not rosy. Sometimes they talk about things that weren’t successful. Sometimes they think about decisions that they made that weren’t good. And that’s so critical because you got to learn by doing, and they are helping all the rest of us who are learning by doing as we go to also learn from what they did, good or bad. The venture capital business is, it’s an apprentice model. I think a lot of people talk about that, you have to, trial and error. And I think anybody who’s willing to contribute to that conversation is somebody that I want to listen to. We, we trade posts all the time among the two of us and among the, the broader, the, #Noah and #Jody as well. We’re just constantly trading stuff. And it’s always funny to see we’ll forward stuff to one another that we’ll have seen was forwarded to whichever one of us by somebody within our circles that then we’ve seen couple of other times from other people. And you’ll see like really good thoughtful content makes it’s way around because people are just like that’s really insightful, I’m, you know, that’s, I’m glad that person shared it.
Nick: And finally guys, what’s the best way for listeners to connect with each of you?
Galen: I think the best way, like a lot of folks in this space, is through someone that, that you know and have done business with. So finding someone that, that knows me is, is probably the best way, I would say. Actually really by an order of magnitude, that’s about the best way. But my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian: Yeah, I would say the same thing. You know, and also don’t hesitate to reach out if you don’t have an introduction, to either one of us. But take a second to not to cut and paste sort of the standard email that goes to everybody and just sort of say why you’re reaching out to one of us in particular. And why for whatever reason you think it makes sense. And it’s okay to say I don’t really have a good reason for it, I just wanted to talk and see if maybe you had some thoughtful advice. And, you know, wanted to hop on the phone for 5 or 10 minutes. We’re happy to do that. I think that’s part of how we got to the place that we are, is both by doing that for other people but most importantly for having other people do that for us. And my email is email@example.com.
Nick: Guys, it’s been a huge pleasure, #Galen, getting to know you #Brian. We just, just recently met here but I look forward to, to many conversations in the future. And hopefully some collaboration on deals going forward.
Brian: Look forward. Thanks for having us
Galen: Thanks for having us. Love the blog.
Nick: Awesome! Thanks guys, appreciate it.
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