204. Embracing Failure, Capitalizing on Crisis & Building Resilience (Minnie Ingersoll)

204. Embracing Failure, Capitalizing on Crisis & Building Resilience (Minnie Ingersoll)
Nick Moran Angel List

Minnie Ingersoll of TenOneTen Ventures joins Nick to discuss Embracing Failure, Capitalizing on Crisis & Building Resilience. In this episode, we cover:

  • Backstory/path to Venture
  • You co-founded Shift, which you scaled to $100M. What was the most unexpected/surprising aspect of leading and scaling a venture-backed startup?
  • Where did you spend most of your time (and mindshare) at A vs. B vs. C/D?
  • What was it like building a venture-backed startup as a woman?
  • Tell us a bit about the thesis at TenOneTen.
  • I was recently speaking with M.G. Siegler about the societal impacts of tech… all of which are not positive.  I know you’re a mother, so this probably takes on new meaning for you… but how to you consider social and societal responsibility in your role as a tech investor?
  • You’ve experienced early struggles in your life that have informed your approach as an investor and founder.  Can you talk about what you’ve been through, the impact and the perspective you’ve gained from it?
  • Is failure acceptable?  As an investor failure makes me really uneasy and I’ve not had to deal with this yet with a portfolio company but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.  What’s your stance on failure and how to speak with founders about it?
  • You’ve spoken about the importance of founder resilience… Is it something you select for in investments or something you work on with existing portco founders… trying to help them build resilience?
  • How are the challenges for women similar different as a founder vs. investor?
  • Favorite Podcast guest?
  • Best/favorite low profile investor in LA?

Guest Links:

Key Takeaways:

  1. For Minnie, the most unexpected aspect of scaling a venture-backed startup was the realization that it’s all about people. Not only hiring, but managing, communicating and building a culture, among other elements. 
  2. Shift’s Series A was primarily about experimentation, with regards to their pricing model as well as partnerships. During the Series B timeframe, they focused more on measurement and instrumentation of the business.
  3. One of the difficulties Minnie experienced building a venture-backed startup as a woman was carving out time for maternity leave and dealing with the judgment that came as a result of her wanting to go back to work immediately. 
  4. Minnie believes her social and societal responsibility as a tech investor is to pursue what will ultimately serve the people, rather than just thinking of maximizing shareholder value or returns for LPs.
  5. Through her struggles, Minnie realized the importance of asking for help and allowing herself to receive help on what was challenging her. By having honest discussions about the difficulties she was experiencing and pushing through the tough things, it made everything else seem easier. 
  6. When times are tough, Minnie uses the phrase “chop wood, carry water,” which she defines as showing up, telling the truth and hoping for the best, even if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. 
  7. With regards to founders, failure has to be acceptable and talked about. As a VC, allowing the topic of failure to be accessible, encourages founders to feel comfortable communicating what’s really going on ahead of time.
  8. One of the things Minnie looks for when evaluating founders is distance traveled. She appreciates hearing a founder’s personal stories about what they’ve done in their life and what they’ve accomplished, because it makes a huge impact on a lot of their characteristics, including their level of resilience
  9. One place Minnie often see’s resilience come from is founder market fit; when a founder has dedicated their life to the problem their startup is solving and they truly believe this is what they are meant to be doing, they will continue to do it with fierce resilience. 
  10. A key characteristic that successful founders possess is the ability to learn fast, because if you surround them with the right mentors, keep asking the right questions and continue to support them, the possibilities will be endless within shorter timeframes.