194. Special Edition! The Story behind TFR & New Stack Ventures (John Gannon interviews Nick Moran)

194. Special Edition! The Story behind TFR & New Stack Ventures (John Gannon interviews Nick Moran)
Nick Moran Angel List

John Gannon of Going VC interviews Nick to discuss The Story Behind TFR & New Stack Ventures. In this episode, we cover:

  • How did you get Brad Feld on early on?
  • How did you stay true to your vision when you were getting asked early on by entrepreneurs to feature them on the podcast? (you mentioned this in episode 10, w/Brad Feld)
  • If you were starting TFR again, in 2019, what would you do differently?
  • Why the podcast format vs blogging vs. … ?
  • When did you know that the podcast was “working” … bringing deal flow or whatever you thought was a strong signal that things were clicking for your audience?
  • What surprised you once the podcast got “big”? Anything unexpected on the positive or negative side?
  • How did the podcast tie into your recent fundraising process? Where did it help, and did it hurt or cause any issues, too?
  • How did the podcast tie into your recent fundraising process? Where did it help, and did it hurt or cause any issues, too? Do you measure deal flow that is podcast related, and how much of your deal flow is it.
  • How many completed investments came from the TFR community?
  • I have heard from multiple Angel List employees re: Angel List syndicates that it’s very hard to get people to back a deal unless the deal has a lead like Sequoia or KPCB or another top firm attached to it. Has that been true for your syndications? If no, why?
  • What benefits did you see by using Angel List syndicates platform so early on? For those thinking of starting up a syndicate now, how has the game changed?
  • How do you find and vet interns for your fund? Or how do they find you?
  • Are there any processes at your fund that you think work REALLY well, and what are they? How do you execute them?
  • Since we’re both Dads: Other than having less time now that you have a child, have there been new tactics you’ve applied to the podcast, the firm, etc to help you get more leverage at work and free up time for home life?

Guest Links:

Key Takeaways:

  1. For the last 10 years, John has run the longest running VC job board, an email list spanning over 13,000 members
  2. Over the last three years Johns main focus has been on a new program called “Going VC”, which is an intensive 16 week program that helps people break into VC. Over 40% of the folks who have gone through that program have landed either a VC job or an internship within a year of finishing.
  3. Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s important to differentiate and build a brand. Nick began The Full Ratchet podcast with that as his main focus after realizing at the time, there was nobody else doing a podcast about VC. 
  4. Nick encourages founders that are starting out and raising their first round of capital or just getting into the space to not under appreciate just asking people for help. Everyone has to start somewhere!
  5. If you’re not going through a referral, it’s important to have a good “hook.” The key to a really good hook and to get a VC’s or anyone’s attention is to keep it brief, make your ask clear and find something really relevant about the person you’re reaching out to that they’re going to take notice of.
  6. The best gift you can give anyone is being a really good listener. Networking and connecting with people has a lot to do with really listening to their perspective and expanding on it.
  7. At the start of TFR, Nick wanted to stay true to the goal of demystifying venture capital from the VC’s perspective. This goes back to the point about differentiation and specialization, just like with a startup business, it’s all about focus, driving toward an MVP, finding a beachhead customer market and being very, very clear with yourself about your target market and what your mission is.
  8. Through TFR, Nick was able to build a network, a brand for himself, a robust deal flow pipeline and his investment network of Angels by not being too ambitious early on and setting small incremental goals that aligned with his focus. 
  9. The original inspiration for TFR’s “investor Stories” segments came from Jerry Seinfeld’s show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Nick loved the concept of covering a specific topic with a variety of guests to create a fun, quick hitting segment with varying opinions. 
  10. Just as it’s important for startups to build an “edge” and differentiate themselves, VCs should be doing the same thing in terms of sourcing, branding, networking and building an acceleration advantage in the way that you work with portfolio companies after you invest.
  11. In talking to the folks at Angel List about syndicates recently, the vibe John has gotten is that the deals that tend to fill out their syndicate as syndicated rounds are the ones that basically have a tier one Silicon Valley VC investing in the round. 
  12. The signal that’s received from having a Sequoia or a Benchmark on a deal is high. The likelihood that the fund of funds entities, that participate in Angel List, invest in those deals is much higher if there’s a blue chip lead. 
  13. Doing true Angel round, pre-seed or early seed deals on the Angel List platform is very tough because most of those blue chip investors do not invest at the earliest stages.
  14. Nick suggests to any VCs in the audience that are looking for qualified interns, to try out a tool that he’s used with much success called “Handshake,” which allows you to push out a job posting across a number of universities.