On fundraising, supporting founders, and cross-functional learning with Catharine Dockery, founding partner of Vice VenturesFeatured

I spoke with @CatharineDockery, Founding Partner of Vice Ventures, an early stage fund conquering stigmas and striving towards superior returns through investing in good companies in “bad” industries. Vice Ventures invests in early stage startups from non-traditional verticals, such as cannabis, nicotine, alcohol, sextech, eSports, CBD, and addiction recovery. Vice Ventures’ portfolio includes Recess, Lucy, Parade, Maude, Indose, and Player’s Lounge. Prior to founding Vice Ventures, Catharine was an early team member in digital consumer brands at Walmart, was chief of staff and head of private investments for Andy Dunn (co-founder and former CEO of Bonobos), and worked in sales and trading and research at Citi. Catharine shared her advice for fundraising, supporting founders, reaching out to VCs, and cross-functional learning. Never underestimate the power of a great cold email. When raising Vice Ventures, Catharine found a list of the richest people in the world whose email she could find and reached out to 500 people through cold emails. One of these people was Marc Andreesen (co-founder of Andreesen Horowitz). He responded with interest and committed. Once he committed, it was much easier to get other investors on board. Later, on the job, Catharine has found thoughtful cold emailing effective in getting advice and industry insight to support decision making. Personalize cold emails to VCs with mentions of their relevant recent investments. Show knowledge of their portfolio, your nature alignment, and thoughtful customization to increase the chance of their positive response. Provide an open channel of communication to your portfolio founders. Founders appreciate investors on their cap table who are always there to help, even when it is at 2 am or on weekends, for small questions and big challenges and everything in between. Be an active helping hand for your portfolio founders. Ask your founders what they would do if they had a few extra hours of the day or week and be hands on in helping founders execute on these tasks, where possible. Help your portfolio founders target the right investors. Be hands on in creating lists of target investors as your portfolio companies raise later stage rounds. Help them find the right partner: encourage founders to get to know their VCs well instead of rushing them to commit in a few days or a week. Look for opportunities for cross-functional learning. From her time in sales and trading, Catharine learned to understand how people value companies and make decisions. This has later helped her as an investor at Vice Ventures where she is constantly thinking about consumer psychology and behavior patterns. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Looking back on her career, Catharine would encourage her younger self to freak out less and focus more on the big picture. In the moment, a small comment or an email may seem like a huge deal and the end of the world, but as time passes, you quickly realize that these things matter very little, if at all, in the grand scheme of the world.
LOVE this thesis!