Office Hours: I'm a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. I'm Ashley Brasier.Featured

Hi Everyone! I’m Ashley Brasier. I’m a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, where I focus on consumer investing. I’m currently focused on investing in consumer social and health/wellness businesses. Prior to Lightspeed, I served as a growth advisor and consultant for growth-stage startups in the Bay Area. I started my tech career on the product team at Thumbtack where I launched new categories of business. I was previously a management consultant at Bain & Company where I worked with big box retailers on their digital strategy.I have an undergraduate degree in visual and media studies and markets and management from Duke and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. I grew up in North Carolina and am a fan of documentary photography, architecture, southern cooking, and the beach. Ask me about consumer investing, growth strategies, leading teams, transitioning from startups to VC, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @ashleybrasier!Elphas – please ask @ashleybrasier your questions before Friday, January 15th. @ashleybrasier may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
When should a startup go for venture funding? Some VCs have programs to invest in startups that haven’t even launched a product, and others when some revenue has started coming in. What are the pros and cons?
Hello ladies, I’m interested in this question too 🙋🏽‍♀️
Hey there - great question. The answer to this question can really only be answered on a case by case basis, as it largely depends on personal preference and risk tolerance. Some people prefer to raise money earlier, so that they are less financially strained and able to make early hires. Others prefer to raise later, as they'd rather not take the dilution that may come with an early round. They may also prefer the flexibility of doing things on their own timeline, as investors will most often want to check-in regularly and see continued progress.
Hi Ashley! What do you think makes you (or somebody else) a great investor? What are the qualities in investors you really admire? Those might be the same things or different things :)
Hi Tara, There are several ways to be a great VC and it's largely about figuring out what your style is and leaning into that. No matter your style, it's important to be able to source good companies, which usually comes from developing relationships with folks in early stage ecosystems. It's also important to be able to develop a POV on how a market will evolve and do the diligence to understand if the company you're evaluating will be a winner. It's also important to add real value to companies - usually based on your experience working with other companies at similar stages or in similar industries. I most admire investors who provide strong guidance grounded in previous experience, but ultimately let the entrepreneur steer their own ship.
Hello fellow North Carolinian! Native Charlottean and Wolfpack alum checking in here. When I lived in Seattle for five years, I always really missed the food in NC. So my question is: whenever you travel back home, what's the first food you get?
Hey there! Good question - I love Bullocks BBQ in Durham and have been going there with my family for years. I spend a lot of time catching up with high school and college friends at places like Guglhuph and Foster's Market. (now I'm hungry!!)
Hey Ashley thanks for taking the time to do this! How did you find transitioning from startup to VC? And what advice would you give someone making that transition now? Similarly, how do you think about career progression (beyond just the ladder of associate to partner)? Any thoughts greatly appreciated! I recently moved from operating to VC.
Hi Eliska. Congrats on your recent transition from operating to VC. It's a big transition to make and the roles are quite different, however I find that applying operating principles and 'ways of working' to the VC job can be helpful - here are some things I did at the outset: set-up a dashboard to track interesting companies, set recurring calendar reminders to check-in with top companies, and add structure to the week by deciding what activities you do on certain days - e.g., Tuesdays are my day for follow-up and new outreach. Career progression varies greatly by firm. Some offer more partner-track roles, while others offer a 2-3 year stint. It's important to get clarity on how your individual firm thinks about career progression and then tailor your approach accordingly. Nonetheless, I always think quarterly 1:1 progression check-ins are a great way to track your progress with your manager and get feedback on what is working well vs. what you could improve.
Thanks so much Ashley really appreciate the advice and honesty :)
Hi @ashleybrasier - Thank you for holding office hours and entertaining all of our questions for you. Adding to the list, could you advise and share about:-How did you transition from a startup to a VC?-Which VCs focus on funding media/beauty media startups specifically for women of color/BIPOC women?-Which entrepreneur-in-residence programs do you recommend for founders working on beauty/media startups for women of color/BIPOC women?-Which entrepreneur-in-residence programs do you recommend for founders working on IOT/machine learning/behavior science startups?Thank you for your advice and time - in advance.
Hi Cecilia, Thanks for your questions. 1. I had the good fortune of chatting with The Takeoff about my transition into VC - you can read about it here: Several investors are excited about investing in these areas - Feel free to send me your deck and I can suggest specific people. 3/4. I'm less familiar with EIR programs, so not totally sure! Would recommend you ask other founders who have built in this space previously. I know that Thrive and Atomic have particularly strong incubation infrastructure.
Thank you very much @ashleybrasier. I really appreciate you taking the time and care to respond to my questions.
Hi Ashley!!I've heard a lot of VCs talk about how they make bets primarily on the founder. What's your take on investing based on the person vs. the product idea itself? What if you realllllly like/believe in the founder but don't think the idea has legs to stand on? You must meet so many people across all functions and industries! What tools or processes do you use to keep track of your network?AND most importantly: what's your favorite beach? 😊
Hi Mollie - thanks for the questions! #1 - When we're investing in an early stage company, it's usually for a myriad of reasons - not just one reason alone. Certain investors tend to focus more on team vs. product (or vice-versa), but both are important. At the earliest stage, I think the team is a slightly more important factor than the product because if the team is really that good, then hopefully they'll have a high level of self-awareness, learn from testing the product, and evolve the product offering accordingly. #2 - My calendar is really the center of my toolkit, as I'm almost always in meetings. I use the calendar to review what meetings I have upcoming, and ID who to follow-up with the next week. I take notes in Google Docs and have a simple naming convention that helps me find relevant info. We also have a CRM tool that is integrated with our email and auto-populates the record based on meetings we've had. #3 - I LOVE the NC beaches! And sunset at Napili Bay in Maui is pretty spectacular :)
Chk out the Nakalele blow hole in Maui @dusk if back; not just the drive there, but the remoteness; view is otherworldly 
Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. My company is a D2C e-commerce and currently pivoting to a new product. We bootstrapped this entire time but for the new product we will almost definitely need early-stage funding. Being an investor yourself in the consumer space, what would you look for and what questions should I be ready to answer before approaching an investor? Thanks again!
Hi Emily, I think investors will definitely be interested in hearing more about the pivot and specifically: 1) what you learned from launching the first product and 2) how the next product will be different. In addition to this, we'll want to know the usual things like - what problem are you solving, why is now the right time for this, why is your team the best team to solve this problem, etc.
Great to know! Thanks again.☺️
Hi Ashley!I'm interested in hearing more about your MBA journey. How did you find your experience with doing MBA at Stanford? How has the MBA added value to your career?Thank you for your time in advance :)
Hi Ngoc - Thanks for the question. The MBA was a great way to round-out my skillset, as I had studied 'Visual & Media Studies' in undergrad and knew I wanted to further develop hard-skills like accounting and finance. The MBA was also a great way to develop a trusted set of peers at a similar career stage. I regularly turn to my classmates for advice and support.
Hey Ashley!Thank you so much for sharing your time with us. What is the best alternative to a warm intro? Without an expansive network in VC and having reached the limits on creativity, I’m curious if there’s anything that will suffice in place of this. Annee from SoftServe, the game-based learning platform for soft skills.
Hi Anne - I find that a short and personalized email with a simple subject line like "VC Name / Startup Name" often does the trick. Otherwise you could reply to someone's tweet, DM on twitter, chat in a Clubhouse room, or send a LinkedIn message. I suggest adding relevant links to your email - e.g., link-out to your LinkedIn page and/or do your deck (DocSend or google slides usually works best).
@ashleybrasier Thanks for taking the time! I am curious as well on how to take part in an EIR position within a firm. I am looking for options and would like to understand the entrance process since it is not typically been an open role per se. I know that most EIR already had a network connection on some level. Would love advice on entering the space. Thanks!
Thanks, Krystyna. The best way to land an EIR role is to get to know the VCs at your target funds and share your ideas with them. Twitter is a great place to share your ideas publicly and converse with VCs who are interested in similar topical areas. You could also write a Medium post about your 'thesis' on the space and share that with VCs.
Hi Ashley-thx for doing AMA. I have a comment/question combo. I'm seeing a huge funding gap for pre-seed, non-tech founder, women owned startups. We are less comfortable going to F&F for spark plug pre-revenue $$ and need the $$ to do our lean startup due diligence (test the idea, pivot if needed, suss out the biz model, build a no-code MVP w/o a technical co-founder). Many of us are SME's but still this gap is stopping great companies from being started. Even Angels want traction and larger transacx's unless you happen to maybe know one personally. If we're going to get past the 2.9% of VC to women founders, we need more help @ this stage. Tysm.
Great question. I am in this exact boat right now. Would love to discuss more.
Thanks for the note. There are some programs for founders who are at the earliest stage and looking for support. Here is one from South Park Commons, which provides $400K - route would be to incubate an idea in partnership with a VC - e.g., as an 'Entrepreneur in Residence.' You'll likely be giving up more equity than otherwise, but often you'll get some kind of stipend/salary for a defined amount of time and then you'll pitch the VC and often they fund the round, as they've worked on the idea in partnership with you.
Fantastic-thx and appreciate the resource recommendations. EIR is pretty hard to get when you’re not in the valley or Stanford network or already had a recent exit etc. but worth a try! ✌🏼
Hey Jo - not sure of your situation - but *normally* you can get traction without $$. Plenty of free tools out there to do surveys, get signups, manage mailing lists, find users, talk to people, collect payment e.g. airtable, Google forms, MailChimp, zapier, figma, producthunt, linkedin, forums, twitter, slack communities, substack, stripe. None of these require technical skills.If you can afford some of the no-code tools e.g. webflow, bubble (they're usually pretty cheap), you can get a website up if that's important.
Tysm! Helpful 🙏🏼
Hi Ashely, I've noticed that some platforms (Docsend, Mercury) offer to submit your pitch deck to several VCS. Have you been on the receiving end of this? Is this a good way to get exposure or is it better to go through warm channels where possible?For curious Elphas out there:DOCSEND FUNDRAISING NETWORK: RAISE:
Hi Jane - Thanks for highlighting this. I didn't know these platforms offered this and I'm not on the receiving end. It's better to go through warm channels where possible or otherwise write a compelling cold email. The best cold emails are simple - they introduce you / the business, provide some high-level stats, and provide relevant links (e.g., hyperlink to your LinkedIn and hyperlink to the pitch deck).
Thank you so much, Ashley! And thanks for offering up your expertise.
Thanks so much for your time and effort. I am with a start up that is seeking investors. So far I have gotten conflicting advice on focusing on the revenue generating potential of our business, versus focusing on the exit strategy of potential investors. We are in the AR/ed tech space.
Hi Paula - I'd focus on the revenue generating potential in the pitch. I think this could take the form of a few slides that would focus on 1. the need / problem statement, 2. market size, 3. business model, 4. progress to-date (e.g., graph of revenue or # users). It's always good to have an idea of what the exit could be, however this is something that is hard to predict at the early stages of a company's development, as the market is always shifting (e.g., a potential acquirer may not be well known today).
Hi @ashleybrasier I'm curious about trends your seeing in the consumer investing space that will carry through 2021. What's the biggest shift? What do you predict comes next? Thank you!
Hi Tamara - I've been spending a lot of time learning more about the opportunity around livestreaming - for live events, but also for retail/shopping applications. I believe live is one of the most entertaining mediums and think we will see livestreaming continue beyond COVID. We're also seeing a big upswing in interest around mental health, the creator economy (e.g., tools and platforms for creators), and social audio.
Interesting! Thank you, @ashleybrasier
Hey Ashley,One of the widely held assumptions for any type of consumer tech is that it requires a lot of money/investment up front in order to build a brand. What would your recommendations be for someone that wanted to build a consumer tech company but don't want to raise a lot of money in doing so (or not have the ability to raise). Are there tips or ways to think about this? could building a community/forum as part of the startup help?
Hi Katie - Thanks for the question. There are a few ways to approach growth in a low budget way: 1. Organic social - e.g., celebrity promoting brand, brand becoming meme-able, content or other articles written about brand that get widely shared2. Word of mouth - e.g., if product has unique features or design and people are excited to talk about it
Hi Ashley. Love ❤️✌️your support for this community,. My name is Iza Martin, I am a 13 year old tech entrepreneur based in NYC. I would love to get your honest feedback and advise on my idea 🙏🙏🙏, Recently I was granted a US patent for my invention.Please let me know if I can DM you a link to a short video presentation? Thx Iza
Hi Iza - feel free to email me: [email protected]
Hi Ashley! I started building an app with 2 colleagues and have plans to monetize it. The backend is almost done and we plan to code the frontend next week. Concepts are fully mapped out. Our goal is to have the MVP by Feb 5th so only 4 weeks of building. It is bootstrapped, but do you have recommendations on when startups can start pitching to VC's, in terms of proof of financial viability? Could you please share some tips for a good pitch deck as well? Thank you so much.
Founders can start pitching VCs at any time - earlier stage investors (pre-seed, seed) are often excited to get to know founders even before they have an idea and can be helpful in ideation and testing. Different investors have different requirements for the amount of progress they typically want to see before investing. For your stage, I'd focus on pitching to angel investors and pre-seed or seed funds. The best pitch decks are really simple - 10-15 slides with min 24 pt font. The idea is to communicate what the company does, why you're the right team, why now's the right time, and how the business will make money. You can follow-up after the pitch with any additional data or information - e.g., a deck with an appendix or data on early pilots / cohorts of users.
Thank you so much, this is very helpful!
Hi Ashley! Thanks for giving so much time to this, this week. Do you have any resources where you've documented any parts of your transition from startups to VC? Would love to learn more about your thought process around why you decided to do that, how it happened, and how you successfully made the switch. Thank you!!
Hi Brielle - Check out this medium post: ... Michael Spiro from The Takeoff transcribed an interview where I talk about this!
Hi @ashleybrasier! THANK YOU so much for putting yourself out there for all of us Elpha's benefit first and foremost. I'm the founder of Daizy, an A.I. consumer SaaS tool, think Stitch Fix for the Home. It's an app that can sit on any Shopify store and was built on top of Alchemy Fine Home, our existing successful home decor company. We have it built and soft launched and already have some incredible traction and are raising a round. What I'd like to ask, as well as some other Elpha's as well I can see, is how to get in the door without a warm intro? The cold email strategy just isn't an effective one. Being able to get a response, whether it be a yay or a constructive nay is key for any founders growth. I'm sure your team gets so many pitches. Do you take the time to give constructive no's to help founders learn from your reasoning?Second question. Do you feel that a successful VC partnership adds a lot of value to the companies you partner with? We have been speaking to some private angel investors however I'm really looking for smart money and am hoping to find the right VC team that can help our team grow vs just fund us. Thank you in advance for your thoughtful responses! Thank you,Vanessa Van WierenFounder, &
Hi Vanessa, Thanks for the questions. On #1 - Most VCs are on twitter, so you could get their attention by replying to a tweet - especially if the tweet is relevant to what you're building. I also find that LinkedIn messages work well and sometimes better than emails (b/c that's usually a less crowded inbox!). On #2 - Larger VCs often have a 'platform' offering - i.e., people on staff who provide support with recruiting, PR/marketing, growth, and business development. These services can be really helpful for founders. Angels can also provide similar support, depending on their networks / professional experience, but likely in a more ad-hoc way.
Hi @ashleybrasier I am the founder of Pixchange an app that has quickly taken off since 2 months with 77,000 new users in that time frame. I have noticed that I make dramatically different impressions on investors. Some find my style of explaining my predictions/analysis as lacking confidence and forcefulness. Others tell me I explain elegantly with sound analysis. Any tips on « reading » an investor to adapt communication style? Or should I just be « me » and if I don’t fit their perception of the ideal founder - so be it? Ps. I would love to pitch to Lightspeed 🤩 our app:! Allie
Allie - Thanks for the question. I generally think that 80% of feedback is more about the person giving it, than the person receiving it. That said, if you're getting consistent feedback about something in particular, then it could be interesting to try to experiment with new styles to see if those get a better response.
Hello,I know that Lightspeed invests heavily in Enterprise tech, and have worked for a portfolio company in that space. I’m interested in your focus on consumer and health. Have you successfully placed talent from any of your firm’s Enterprise portfolio into any of your consumer/health companies?It seems from the outside that recruiters are only interested in me for Enterprise roles and I’m struggling to articulate how I might contribute to a consumer/health startup. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Good question. Several consumer health companies start as 'direct to consumer' businesses and then once they build a base of loyal customers and a consumer brand, they receive inbound interest from health plans, employers, and other institutions. It could be interesting to join a consumer health startup that is receiving inbound from institutions, and help with their transition into enterprise. This would allow you to add value from your enterprise background, but you would also get exposure to a legacy consumer business.
Hey Ashley!Thanks so much for your time.What do you think are the top 3 skills (hard or soft) that help you to succeed in VC? Do you think there are any “must haves” for someone to succeed?Second, I never knew about the world of VC until I joined a tech company and received equity. I work in operations now, but I am starting to think about my career path and see getting into VC as a potential move. What do you recommend for speeding up the learning curve? I’ve just started listening to podcasts and I Google everything, but did you find any resources that really helped you understand how it all works?