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What I've learned through my investing careerFeatured

chilliangie's profile thumbnail
Thank you for sharing @ssamutin! Just forwarded this to a few friends who are interested in breaking into VC. I'm sure we all can benefit alot from your insights. I'm also wondering if you can share more about "which management teams have the potential to be great" - what would be some characteristics or key indicators from an investor's point of view? I ask because it would probably help us identify cofounders who can make the company great as well. Thanks!!
ssamutin's profile thumbnail
thanks @chilliangie - and great question. Its usually helpful to think of it from two different lens, but regardless focusing in on past examples of their "grit" and ability to persevere as well as lead and recruit talent 1) repeat founders - how much scale did they reach with previous companies, how un/successful was the exit and what did they learn, is it the repeat team and if so how well did they work together, how did they overcome past obstacles, their experience and knowledge of the space of the new company 2) with first time founders - do they know the space well and why are they the right ones to solve x challenge, how does the team work together and what experience have they had working together in the past, what (not necessarily a company) have they successfully built in the past
Mbereimani's profile thumbnail
This was an insightful read, I’ve toyed with the idea of going into VC so thanks for sharing 💜
kendall's profile thumbnail
Hi Sophia! Thanks for posting.I have a question about pattern recognition -- I've seen some investors cite this as a good way to vet investments, and other mention it as a bad thing, one of the major contributors to making Silicon Valley so white and male (since everyone was looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg). Can you expand on how you look to use pattern recognition in vetting companies without it seeping into the demographic characteristics of who the founders are?
ssamutin's profile thumbnail
for sure @kendall actually Oak has 2 founding female partners so its great to learn from them. I would say applying the lens of pattern recognition around strong management teams works well because you want (esp at the early stage) to back the team that really understands the space and the problem they are solving (whether from personal experience or perhaps working in an industry)
EllenTwomey's profile thumbnail
@ssaunders I really appreciate your perspective and ideas. Your disclaimer was also helpful as when I was reading your description, I was wondering what your experience level was in order properly categorize your suggestions. I think this information is exceedingly useful. I particularly like when you described how so much of your early time was spent on "deal flow" only to find out later that the real work applies post-deal. Great insights that help to explain the work and execution required from a VC. Sometimes I think VC's get a bad rap about their returns. Some may be warranted, but in general, when you take on that level of risk and effort large returns are necessary. Thank you for taking the time to share.
jessss's profile thumbnail
Thanks @ssamutin for this contribution! I think all of these learnings & advice are spot on and super valuable to those looking to better understand what a career in VC is like. Why did you decide to go after FinTech? I’d love to hear more about what sub sectors or trends within FinTech are most interesting to you from an investor’s perspective. I did investing for 3 years right out of college as well and covered software as a generalist. But one subsector I loved was FinTech and ended up working in an operational role at a FinTech startup & still doing it 4 years later :) eventually my plan is to go back to investing and focus on FinTech. I also wanted to say I know Insight & Oak pretty well - congratulations on your career so far, both are fantastic firms. I love to see another woman kicking ass in an industry that’s still dominated by men.
ssamutin's profile thumbnail
@jessss thanks sm! your trajectory sounds really great as well. I was actually pretty flexible, just wanted a focus field and I had looked at a few fintechs in the past at insight; but I was really drawn to Oak because of how great the team is. In terms of trends - have been spending quite a bit of time on ecommerce enablement and then b2b payments/fintech solutions.
MegBrigman's profile thumbnail
I resonate with your key takeaways so much Sophia! I've been at a midwest VC (Cultivation Capital) for the last few years and while I started as an operations generalist, I've loved getting to dive in our Food & AgTech fund and run our accelerator program! I love how you broke down several great pieces of advice and couldn't agree more- source your passions, identify patterns, and work hard to support your portfolio. :)