355. Lessons for Raising an Inaugural Fund, How to Construct a Thesis, and The Shortcomings of the Traditional VC Model (Allan Jean-Baptiste and Marco DeMeireles)

355. Lessons for Raising an Inaugural Fund, How to Construct a Thesis, and The Shortcomings of the Traditional VC Model (Allan Jean-Baptiste and Marco DeMeireles)

Allan Jean-Baptiste and Marco DeMeireles of Ansa Capital join Nate to discuss Lessons for Raising an Inaugural Fund, How to Construct a Thesis, and The Shortcomings of the Traditional VC Model. In this episode we cover:

  • Tips for Emerging Managers
  • Building Conviction with LPs and Founders from Scratch
  • Growing Momentum in Fundraising Cycles
  • And more!

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Transcribed with AI:

Allan Jean Baptiste and Marco DeMeireles join us today from New York City. Alaan and Marco are Co-Founders and General Partners at Ansa Capital, a recently launched $100 million early-stage venture fund. Both Allan and Marco come from a background in traditional private equity. Allan was a Founding Investor at KKR’s growth fund investing in companies such as FanDuel and Policygenius. Marco was most recently a Partner at The Chernin Group and has invested in companies such as Coinbase, Peloton, and Spotify throughout his career. Guys, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having us.
Great to be here.
Of course. So you guys have a bit of a different background, I think, than our usual guests. Can you both walk us through your background in your path to venture?
Yeah, happy to. So this is Allan speaking. So I was born and raised in Boston, and honestly didn’t have a ton of exposure to venture, finance, private equity, or really anything like that. My parents immigrated here from Port au Prince, Haiti, and I’m a member of a large, massive, some would say, Haitian family that all are in Boston and New York now. Mom is a principal and educator, father is an investigator, and so my exposure to tech and venture really came through college and different internships. I was pretty lucky to get an internship at Google after my freshman year in college, and that allowed me to move out to the Bay Area, work at the Googleplex, Google’s headquarters, and get more just exposure to technology in general. I was actually studying global health and health policy in school and economics, really looking at the intersection of health and wealth in the Third World, given things like cholera and what it’s done to countries like Haiti. And so that was my first real foray into technology. Given a lot of my work in school had been much more quantitative in nature, a lot of econometrics, a lot of statistics, I thought maybe approaching tech from an investing or finance side would make a lot of sense for my skill set and kind of how my brain worked. So I ended up getting a job at Goldman in tech investment banking after college. Honestly, I’d never taken a corporate finance or accounting class before, so it was pretty raw and new. But from there quickly, you know, got up to speed and decided that it would be a really interesting way to spend my career, if I was investing in tech instead. And so I actually ended up going back to Google; I went back to Google to launch their growth equity fund called Capital G. And that was a really interesting time investing in companies like CrowdStrike and others, before getting the opportunity to launch KKR’s growth equity fund. And so that’s what I’d been doing for the past five, six years, both in San Francisco and in New York. Building our teams and our fund and strategy. And at KKR, in our growth fund, we really get started or got started at the early stages of growth. And then over time, as a fund expanded, also started doing things a little bit later stage. And so in starting Ansa, it’s been a great set of experiences, having done series A’s and B’s, but also things a little bit later, and having a really good understanding of really what it takes not just to have a great business or idea, but really get something through an IPO or exit over time. But that’s plenty on me; Marco, you wanna share a little bit more about your background?
Sure. You know, on my end, I guess you’ll notice a lot of shared professional and personal narratives. And I think it’s really important to the foundation of a partnership that there is that kind of shared collective identity and on my end, also the child of immigrants, first generation American, as I mentioned to you, when we were chatting earlier, you know, born in Queens, grew up in Long Island, and in a household really centered around the sciences. My dad was a bench scientist, and most of my education was really focused on that path. And the biggest unlock in attracting me to this career was really around my time at Williams. And so at Williams, where I did my undergrad, I was exposed to people like Steve Case, on campus, people like Barry McCarthy, who was CFO of Netflix for over 10 years, really interesting technology leaders who had a real impact in the space. And as I started to think about the impact that I wanted to have, and my own personal growth rate, it became clear that getting out west, going into whitespace, exploring new spaces was one of the best ways to do that. And so for me, I fell in love with technology and venture capital by really going through that idea maze. And I cut my teeth at a traditional venture firm that started that way, at least called Technology Crossover Ventures. Fund one for them was actually $100 million. It’s led by people who I think incredibly highly of; Jay and Rick pioneered that business and you know, they’re probably best known for this series B in Netflix, but they did a lot more than that. And I think one, like Allan, working for world class people elevates your bar for excellence. And we were exposed to these businesses that, you know, in many ways we were playing above our weight. And I took that set of experiences, joined a large hedge fund, built out that private equity and venture business over time. And then went on to the Turning Group to build out their early stage growth equity business here in New York. And for me, it’s really been this focus on the intersection of technology and finance for my entire career, or so for the last 12 years, and Allan and I are excited to build on that together.
Yeah. Well, I’d be curious to hear more about Ansa. What was the insight that led you guys’ going it out on your own and launching the firm?
Yeah, it’s obviously something we thought a lot about. Maybe I’ll start and Allan, please jump in. You know, backing up, right part of that question, even before Ansa, is really even why start a fund? And for us, one of the other things we say a lot is, you know, you don’t beat Tom Brady by playing Tom Brady’s game. And over this last decade of investing, we really found our game, right, we found what that was. And that’s how we built our careers with some of the companies that you mentioned. And so for us a big part of that insight, and our game was around this thesis that we had, that the best outcomes in venture capital, they sit at the intersection of different themes, of different business models, both b2b and b2c, and often different stages. And when you think about how we’ve invested over the course of our careers, it’s really being tied to that narrative in a very authentic way. And the way that the ecosystem has evolved in private equity and venture capital broadly, is the management companies of firms have moved to productize their people. And for us, we really focus on doing GP-led thesis driven work at the intersection of different themes. That aligns our business model, which is really, you know, the person with the highest fidelity information, making the decision in a way that I think is unique and authentic to us.
Yeah, and so Ansa actually means an opening or opportunity. And it’s supposed to represent the opportunity that we see in the market. It takes a couple of different flavors of that that we’d be happy to get into. But go right ahead.
Yeah, I mean, I’d be curious to hear some of the themes that you guys are most interested in now. And as you take a look at where we’re headed, both maybe from a consumer and a b2b perspective, where are the areas that you guys are leaning into the most at Ansa?
Yeah, so at Ansa, our focus is across three different levers. The first is really around just things that are pretty undercovered, so undercovered sectors. And oftentimes, it’s new markets coming online for the first time, new distribution models, or even modern systems from a b2b software perspective. We then try to focus specifically at a stage of investment, we’ve termed it the emerging growth stage. But think of this as after early stage venture, but before early stage growth. It’ss kind of like the messy middle that all companies go through. And what we’ve noticed in the market is that there’s been a bifurcation of those capital dollars, right? There’s a lot of pre seed and seed managers, oftentimes people with rolling funds on Angels list, and then you have the traditional growth equity guys who have 3 to 5x assets in less time, right. And so we’re trying to focus on an earlier stage of growth, and helping to transition those companies to be really digestible and easily well understood for these later stage growth players over time. And so to your question on where sectors we spend time, we spend a lot of time in digital health, spend a lot of time in FinTech and then also just b2b software. For instance, one place we’re spending time right now is around this thesis of the next generation of roll ups, and is there a way to use both financial technology and software to bring a better set of services to SMB businesses in specific verticals. So an investment that I had done at one of my previous firms is a company called Slice, and Slice has really been pioneering that model. They’re focused on independent pizzerias. But outside of the internet marketplace, it’s offered to consumers, they offered a lot of additional services on the back end, similar to what you’d see in a franchise model. And, you know, like a Domino’s or Pizza Hut. And so we’re trying to think through what are additional ways to really roll up that long tail of Main Street over time, across different verticals and job types.
Got it. Got it. And I know, each of you has been a part of getting new venture funds off the ground. I mean Allan you were at KKR, and Marco, I know you’ve done it across a few different places. How do you guys think about adding value to founders and winning the right to lead these deals? I think it’s one of the challenges for any new firm that’s starting, is it’s a competitive landscape out there. So I’m curious when you guys are talking to entrepreneurs and selling Ansa, why does an entrepreneur choose you over one of the other options that they have?
Yeah, you know, it’s something we think a lot about and build into our DNA. And like you said, I think the good thing is our lived experience, right, very authentically is, is being forced to do that and think about that challenge at a relatively young age and at a relatively early point in our careers. You know, in my case, almost eight years ago, having to start to do that and join my first boards, it’s been a really powerful way to forge our identity through these lived experiences. And so broadly, maybe, to start, we tend to work with companies in what I’d say, three ways. It’s really around people, right? People are the lifeblood of what we do. And so we spend a lot of time around team building and infrastructure related to that. I think the benefit of coming from firms like where we’ve come from, in senior roles, is not only did we learn how to hire, and frankly, how to fire executives, but also how to elevate functional leaders from within, how to think about designing an organization at different points in the company’s lifecycle, right? As a series B company, it’s a very different org design than a series D or pre-IPO company. And we’ve sat on boards of seed stage companies at its earliest iterations through the later stages, and the little things around even executive compensation, they really matter. And so I think teams value that impact. You know, the second thing that we do, which Allan and I are particularly proud of, is if you look at the past companies that we’ve worked with, a lot of them throw off a ton of cash at scale, right? And they control their own destiny, and have optionality, whether it’s in the public markets or private markets post, you know, our investment, and a big part of that comes down to like work on the operations that we do. And it’s tethered around this idea that building a business around paid acquisition and paid marketing isn’t how you should scale. It’s really around the work that we do on the operating side is around improving go to market efficiency. And I think what’s unique about Allan and I’s lived experience is that’s true across consumer health. That’s true across our work in b2b software, across what we call software driven systems, like a Peloton. Across financial infrastructure and web 3, like a CoinBase. These companies are impressively profitable. A lot of those lessons that we learned, we bring up-market to the early growth companies that we work with. But a big part, getting back to the other part of your question, which is around why do companies work with you? Right, it’s not just those skills, and frankly, a track record of doing that over time that drives that, it’s also our approach, right? So we are very concentrated. We’re surrounding our companies with all of our time, all of our capital, all of our headspace and resources. And we tend to build conviction ahead of the market in these businesses, because of that deep focused work. And we really look to catalyze financing conversations with them. Because we’re not spread thin, right? We’re not looking for a process, we’re looking to catalyze an opportunity, as we start building a bi-directional relationship with a team.
We talked about specialization and how concentrated your model is at Ansa prior to the call today. I’m curious if you could speak to a little bit more how you guys thought through the model at Ansa versus the traditional, more diversified portfolio of 30 companies, let’s say. I believe you said your plan is to invest in 12. I’d be curious to hear more about the strategy behind the heavy concentration in the portfolio.
So given our stage of investment, we’re able to bring a pretty sophisticated set of underwriting tools, right, to each investment, which gives us a better ability to assess risk. Our businesses that we invest in, typically are monetizing. They have a couple of years of engagement data, retention data, other information that we can really dig into. So we can marry both the qualitative with the quantitative in arriving at that end decision. And so it allows us also to take a slightly more later stage growth portfolio construction, and apply that slightly earlier stage. Given we’re trying to go so deep into these individual markets as they’re coming online, we want to build concentrated positions over time. And in order to protect our headspace, and the level of time and depth it takes to build a real thesis in some of these new areas. Like if there’s no research report, if there are no benchmarks, if there’s nothing to look to, you have to really have your own sense of truth. It’s imperative that we aren’t spreading ourselves too thin, but can really focus on those individual companies and those individual thesis areas to find really the best investment.
And it also ties to your question around why do founders work with you, right, which is concentration enables alignment with those teams in a very different way. And it, post investment, it lets us get higher fidelity information and signal that we leverage in the work that we do with those businesses post deal. So we think not only does it lead to a higher win rate on sourcing, right, because we’re focused on that opportunity. Ideally, it leads to better judgment, right? Better loss ratios, because we’ve done all of this pre work in a very focused way. And then ideally, that benefit of focus is also seen post investment, because we don’t have a long tail of companies that we’re spread too thin to be effective.
Mhmm. I’d like to talk more about that pre work that you touched on. How do you construct the theses for the areas that you invest in? Do you have a framework that you use at Ansa? Or could you walk us through the process that you take to build some of these theses in areas that you’re particularly interested in?
For sure. So first, we have about five frameworks that are across sectors that we’ve built on the backs of previous investments and experience investing in these individual areas, that tend to be areas that are a little bit more non consensus, or more difficult for established firms to traditionally underwrite and build conviction in early. So one example is something like high regulation. Another would be industry that’s perceived to be niche, but there are different ways you can monetize them over time if you’re being a little bit more innovative. So we have these frameworks. And we can use these favorites and apply them to each individual sector in which we’re working on. But it creates a level of consistency in our underwriting and our decision making, even in these areas that might be a little bit more difficult to gain real conviction over time. How we go about choosing and building a thesis is a bit of top down, as well as bottoms up work. We’re an outbound sourcing heavy culture. And so what we want to do is first identify a specific sub sector that we think there’ll be a lot of depth to investment. So first, you want to think through what is the potential market size, obviously? And how large can it grow, because oftentimes, some of these markets are pretty early. We like to invest behind markets that are kind of no brainer from a market size perspective, so that we’re not sitting there, you know, trying to figure out what to do next, when the company is at 10 million in revenue and 60%, you know, penetrated into their individual market. From there, we tried to develop individual sub sector theses that are really dependent on what we call demonstrable demand. So like, where is there a real need for this product to be brought into, you know, an organization or an individual’s, you know, app or phone. And then in addition to that, we’re really, really focused on where there are just really strong tailwinds, that will basically push this company forward, while they’re also trying to execute. From there, we’ll start to market map. And so in each of these individual thesis areas and sub sectors, it gets pretty granular, we try to both determine what are the new companies that are potentially building in these areas? What are the differentiation in those business models, right, and which business module we think make the most sense? Is it a software business? Is it a marketplace? Is it something else? And have a real point of view so that when we’re going out and reaching out to these businesses, we can compare and contrast what we think has the best likelihood for success. And then we start talking to a ton of companies. We try to speak to everyone both at our stage, before it, and after it. And we start to build with our own operator network, which we have a pretty large network of advisors. We start to add to that network specifically within those thesis areas, so they can not only help us with diligence, but oftentimes they’re the actual buyers as well. And so they can help us win, in addition to develop better theses and a stronger point of view on where those markets are heading.
Got it. Got it. You guys have both been on a number of boards of incredibly successful companies. I’m curious as you reflect on your learnings and your growth as being board directors, what have some of those biggest learnings been over the course of the past decade as you’ve been developing your board experience?
So I think it’s really owning who you are at that point in time in an authentic way. So as a young board member, right, often, we were the youngest at the start of our career and often, in many cases, the only people of color. It’s easy to feel that imposter syndrome, you are an outsider, and there are more experienced around the table. But I think part of it is being patient in finding your own voice and figuring out you know, across the functional leads, for example, what are the highest one to two levers that you can help influence the outcome of that would make the CEO or the founders direct reports incrementally better. Right? So at a time when most of the Board may be in a governance mode, focused around the mindshare of the CEO, one way to be creatively valuable is to serve the direct reports, right? If they’re looking for their first VP of paid acquisition, because they want to test Tik Tok as a channel, go find that person, right, go join the search committee, right, and actually lead the calls with a Diversa, or Russell Reynolds. And I think one thing that Allan and I fell into, is being able to authentically source talent into our companies that was at the right level and a certain type of talent that people didn’t think exist. And I think that comes from a lot of our lived experiences over the last 10 years of finding ways to be net positive and deliver and serve these companies.
What about on the other side? Do you have any stories or any experiences, insights that you can share in terms of when board dynamics start to fall apart?
I think it’s all gets back to alignment, right. And I guess you’ll see more of this at this point in the cycle as deal dynamics are evolving. You know, I think if there are members of the board who have different incentives, and alignment means a different thing to them, that changes what individuals say, how they contribute, and how they look to serve that company. And so I think figuring out – part of why, you know, alignment is at the core of our answer, right? It’s an equal partnership, there are many ways that it’s baked into our DNA. But making sure that you have really aligned partners around the table, including the founders, right, is key, I think, to the long term success of that business.
Got it, got it. You know, I’d like to change gears just a bit. You guys just raised your first fund within the past 12 months or so. Do you have any insights that you can share about raising your first fund as an emerging manager? Like, what did you guys learn through that process?
There are so many lessons raising your first fund as an emerging manager. I think the overarching lesson is like, know what you’re good at and stick to that. We have a really clear understanding of the types of companies that we’re able to help grow into market leaders. We have a good understanding of the stage of investment that makes the most sense for us where we think there’s the best risk reward. And we’re also comfortable leaning into a model that, you know, isn’t so siloed that we’re, you know, a specific fund only doing one thing. Even in the beginning of fundraising, you’d sometimes hear different institutions ask Why aren’t you only focused on digital health or crypto or something else, and we’re a generalist vehicle. It’s how we’ve always worked. And so having the confidence to believe in your track record and your experience and to maintain the strategy that you think makes the most sense for you and for your team, I think is the biggest lesson that we’ve learned we were able to do that. But you know, at some times, it certainly would have been easier to change and try to fit the market of what’s you know, the norm today a little bit better. The other big area is really just around leveraging your network. Unfortunately, fundraising isn’t always the most meritocratic of endeavors you can pursue. And so really getting comfortable asking people, even people you haven’t talked to a long time, for support and help, introductions, because those warm introductions, I think, are the most important way to start building a relationship. And, you know, many of our investors, most of our investors are actually new relationships. They weren’t ones that we carried from previous firms. And it was through those warm leads and introductions that opened the door for us to build, you know, relationships with some of the best institutions in the world.
Yeah, maybe just to add to that, you know, there’s so many lessons. I’d say, one thing we really focused on was having an authentic, logical approach to going to market that we, you know, put years of work into our foundation, right. So even before we went to market, we were working with a performance coach for a year and a half and happy to dig into the specifics around that. But what I think, you know, is more practical to share with your audience perhaps is how we approached it, right. And so for us, it was really initially going into speaking with our partners and those that we made money for, who knew that we could deliver for them because we had in the past and getting there buy in, right, that was super important as the first pillar for us before even going to institutions. The second was, you know, going to the founders and The management teams that we had worked with in the past, who both knew what it was like when nobody was willing to bet on them. Right. And we stepped up and did and, and they remember that. They also were taking share in a market when they were young at a point in time when often, it was not obvious. And I think they also saw that, you know, we were right on them. And so getting the buy in of the management teams that you’ve backed to become a core set of not just advisors, but also putting money behind you was, was really special to us in terms of activating our community. And then I’d say the third bucket is going to institutions that you have an authentic connection to that are trusted relationships, and building a diverse and aligned investor base, right. Not sacrificing the quality of the foundation, right by say, selling a piece of your management company, not doing that. But actually putting in the work to build a foundation the right way, ends up paying huge dividends down the line. And what Allan and I did over a long period of time, was putting in the work with those endowments, those funds to funds, those foundations, that now, you know, have really come to fruition and continue to scale with us over time.
And I’m curious what you guys have learned about the different segments of LPs and their respective decision processes to invest in emerging funds like Ansa? Did you guys find any discrepancies in that decision process when you were fundraising? And how did you adjust your sales pitch or your process to eventually land some of these endowments? I mean, if I’m remembering correctly, I believe Princeton is the anchor on Ansa’s fund. And that’s a big name. So I’d be curious to hear you guys speak to the different segments and their decision processes.
Yeah, so we don’t have a, anchor, anchor I think can often be correlated with preferred terms, we’ve never done anything like that. Princeton is, you know, our largest investor, a member of our ELPAC, and a core partner to us, they’ve been unbelievable to work with. And I think a big part of what we learned during our approach and going to market, and frankly, our mentality overall, is authenticity matters, right? So we’re not going to tell a limited partner something they want to hear, because it doesn’t make sense to start the relationship on the wrong foot, right, you want to go into a marriage, or any type of partnership, really, really being loved for who you are, and your full self. So I think, bearing that in an appropriate way, and being consistent and authentic, is super important to finding the right partners for you, as opposed to maybe adapting for what someone else is solving for. But I’d say, you know, we have a deep level of respect and admiration for Princeton. And one thing we learned from them in their process that was unique, was every time we’d meet with them, dozens of meetings, they’d say, Hey, here’s the probability of success in this relationship. They’d give us a number, they’d make it quantifiable. They wouldn’t be high level and talk around their process. And often when you’re with people who aren’t wired that way, and that’s often people who aren’t professional money managers or aren’t professional allocators. So maybe a family that dabbles in venture on the side, they won’t be as direct with you. Or they’ll have a preference for seeing a lot of deals and SPVs. And we didn’t want to be in that business. We don’t want to be in the SPV business. And so we started learning from our dating experience, if you will, the types of partnerships that resonate with us the most, and we just oriented our time and our headspace around those types of partners, Princeton’s the most emblematic of that.
The one other thing I’d add there are differences in processes. For us what was really helpful is understanding specifically what the process was, but also the timeline. There’s going to be some groups of LPs, even if they’re all the same type of LP, who move a lot faster than others. And having a really clear understanding of, is this a two month process, a four month process, a six month process or even longer? So you can align all those conversations at the right time and start to build momentum. In fundraising, building momentum is kind of like the Holy Grail. And so we were really intentional around who we went to next, when we started conversations so that we could align all of those different timelines and those different processes to hopefully continue to build momentum through our close.
That’s interesting. Can you speak more around building momentum in the fundraise? I feel like there’s a chicken and an egg problem where someone’s waiting for commitments to come in and no one wants to be left out. How did you guys think about the approach to getting commitments, building momentum throughout the race?
So one thing that we were really focused on was getting people through their process. So that means do all the due diligence, all their questions, getting them through all their process. So that if they were the type who were waiting for the egg, they would then feel comfortable saying yes, because you know, once that shoe had dropped, they’d be able to execute, you know, their own docs and their own commitment. To build momentum, Marco shared a little bit about this, but we really started with people who we knew well, who we’d paid money for to build, you know, because we didn’t have, you know, one massive anchor in the beginning, to build a set of investors that we could eventually close on that would be, you know, a sizable amount of investment dollars. From there, we kind of tried to build concentric circles around those networks, because Marco and I did all this directly, like we didn’t use a placement agent. It was both him and I creating spreadsheets and sending a lot of emails and running around, you know, the country trying to do meetings. So we tried to build concentric circles of networks from whatever circle we were currently at. So from there, we moved to family offices, right. And then from family offices, we continued to move to institutions. Having a good understanding to my earlier point around like how long processes take, since we knew that certain institutions would take longer, right, from a get to know you phase, we would actually start those conversations a little bit earlier, and actually bring them along our process, as we developed and as we grew. I think what you can show an institution over a long period of time is your rate of growth and your rate of change. So even if everything isn’t, you know, perfect in your first meeting, you can show how much better you’ve improved by the second meeting. By the third meeting, you can take into account their feedback, by the fourth meeting, you can, you know, continue to push your own progression. And I think that was really helpful for our ability to convert institutions over time, even as a first time fund where typically, you know, you’re not going to have that level of institutional support.
A lot of the conversation today has been around Ansa’s foundation in terms of capital, we’ve talked about the thesis. I would also be curious to hear how you guys are thinking about building Ansa’s foundational culture among the team?
Yeah, I mean, for us, culture is the lifeblood of our business, and it starts with the two of us and setting the foundation, right, as you hinted at. But we have actually a set of pillars that we shared with both our investors, that we share with team members that we’re potentially bringing on, that we do our best to live by. I’ll hit on a few, happy to go into depth on any, you know, but one of the most important ones that we both lived and built conviction around is this idea of playing for each other. Right? It’s not just in equal partnership isn’t just surface level. But we want the benefit over time as we build larger partnership of competing five vs one, right, we want to compete against that siloed GP. And there’s a lot that I picked up in my experiences from working with Migrate, in my opinion, tier one partners, in Mike and Jesse, who definitely play for each other, and that’s embedded into our DNA. I’d say the second thing that was really important to us is authenticity. And so one of our pillars, if you will, is around building authentic relationships that both, you know, deepen our community and decision making. And that’s measurable, right. So when we – Allan hinted at this advisor network that we have, these are people that most of the market don’t think exist, we should get into what that means with examples. But we’ve often worked with these people, grew up with these people, and went to school with these people. And we take those relationships with them, we help put them in their first C level job, their first independent director seat, and it’s reflexive in that we don’t expect anything from it in the moment. But it’ll often help us source something that’s off the run, make a better decision as we do diligence. And creating that reflexive, authentic behavior in our culture is super important to us. We got a couple more pillars, but hopefully that gives you a sense.
So if you’re hiring a junior investor, what are some of the characteristics of that person that make them a good fit with Ansa from a culture perspective?
Yeah, so we’ve started out in building up the team and I think you’ll see it consistent in that we’re, we’re really looking for if we can oversimplify it: two things. One is a strong analytical foundation. We believe that to be in the business of pricing risk and scaling companies and allocating capital and being an advisor to CEOs who do that at scale. You really need an analytical foundation to help influence the outcome of that business. And we gravitate towards people who marry that with an entrepreneurial drive, a chip on their shoulder, a sreative streak. And you’ll see that embodied in our first hire, and then the hires that come where they have the duality of those traits that I think, we think is the foundation for a great partner over time.
We also love to look for what we like to call intellectual athletes. So individuals who get excited about figuring out a space, like the challenge of entering into something that’s more intellectually unknown or misunderstood or mispriced, and coming up with their own perspective on it. It’s obviously a high velocity model of the number of companies you speak to, obviously, a lot less you end up investing with. But people who are independently excited to really build out new theses, have their own differentiated point of view, and really have comfort in their own thinking. A lot of these markets and companies at a point in time are non consensus. So having a strong point of view, that’s obviously rooted in work, and you know, research and analytics is important. But it’s really a mentality of being able to constantly reinvent the wheel, and have your own deep understanding and perspective of you know, that True North Star.
Guys, if we could feature anyone on the show, who should we interview and what topic would you like to hear them speak about?
I think one that I haven’t seen speak publicly, which would be interesting to me is Josh Kushner. And I think, you know, what is fascinating about what they’ve built over time is how they’ve evolved and thrived. Thrive has thrived, right? They started as a call it seven-ish million fund one. And I believe it’s publicly reported how that was structured, you know, and today, they’re a multibillion dollar fund. And so what goes into that decision making process over a decade? How do you think about management? Who did you hire? How did you go about evolving your hiring practices when you do incubations, which is a totally different product in many ways than, say late stage growth investing, or I’ve even seen them invest in Publix recently. Who’s doing that work? And how do you incent them? Right? It’s a big business today, and in a short period of time evolved from a boutique partnership. And I think the narrative and the logic behind that would be great public learnings?
Absolutely. Allan, what resources books blogs articles, have you found particularly valuable and would recommend to listeners?
That’s a great question. I honestly spend most of my time reading newsletters, and that is like my day to day. I try to sign up for as many as I can. I spend the first hour of my time going from everything from obviously, the Axios’ of the world down to the Fortunes and the rest. That’s really how I try to get up to speed on what’s happening in the market; the market moves so quickly. And there’s so many new deals or so many new ideas. And I feel like that tends to be the easiest way for me to stay up to date. I also rely on Marco heavily for data. Marco is a data glut, and he loves information. And so usually I also get like, it’s similar to like the NPR daily morning podcast, but I get like a download from Marco, which is a lot more efficient on all the things he’s been reading and listening to.
Marco, what are you reading?
I think anything. And I think that is a double edged sword. I’ve been starting to read, maybe on the book side, a book called When We Cease to Understand the World. I believe the author has Ben Labatut and I’m early in it. But I tend to find that I gravitate towards history because it tends to help ground me, in both humbling me and putting everything in perspective, but also helping me think about the future in a different way. And if you think about it, right, we’re really in the business of identifying change and step function changes. And history provides a good lens on that. And so I try to manage my the information I share with the team because it can be all consuming, and it’s worst form of distraction. But yeah, we’re always reading we’re always learning.
Marco has so much information to share that we literally had to create a new email account, just forward things to over time that we can then like review on a weekly basis and you know, get hopefully to summarize learnings of all of his info.
That’s great. What do you guys know that you need to get better at?
I think we spend a lot of time thinking about how do we get better at the things that we can control and so aspirationally in our business, there isn’t much that you can control but who you hire, who you give money to, who you take money from. Those are little things in a way that you have somewhat more control over than say things like the market. And so we think a lot about that. I think we also think a lot about, in a world where an advantage for us is actually that we are a lean, collaborative partnership, how do we maximize that advantage? Meaning aligning on the right themes at the right time and understanding in a shared way, what good looks like for that specific type of business that we can rally around, will help us in making quicker decisions. And we want to always be thinking about what are ways that we can make quicker better decisions. And so we focus a lot around getting better at that.
Yeah, getting to a yes or no, as efficiently and as quickly as possible, I think is like one of the highest priority things that we’re always looking to improve on. Because at the end of the day, your biggest.. the thing that constricts you the most is really your time. There’s plenty of companies to look at, there are plenty of themes to look at. So moving on to the next one at the right time. That’s pretty critical.
Absolutely. And what is the best way for listeners to connect with you?
They should shoot us an email info at Ansa dot co. Ansa.co. We’d love to connect, anyone building a great business that’s starting to monetize and looking to transition from early venture to early growth. We’d love to be your partner.
Yeah, we’re also active on Twitter. You could find us both publicly. I’m Marco DeMeireles. And yeah, we’d love to hear from you.
Awesome. Well, Marco, Allan, thanks again for coming on the show. Thanks for having us.
Thanks, Nate. Hope to see you in New York next month.
I’m looking forward to it.

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