Office Hours: I'm an angel investor, former partner at A16Z and early employee at Twitter. I'm Elizabeth Weil.Featured

cadran's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us, @elizabethbaileyweil!As a reminder, ask Elizabeth your questions until this Thursday. She may not have time to answer every single one, so please emoji upvote the ones you're most interested in.
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
Great to be here! Thrilled at the conversation and connections that the Elpha community is providing.
Gentry's profile thumbnail
Hello Elizabeth,Your accomplishments are off the charts amazing! Can you please share best practices for dealing mansplainers and people who are condescending because they underestimate you. I look forward to your thoughts and am checking out your letterpress site now. (Who doesn't love quality stationary?)
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
To be honest, I haven't really focused on best practices for dealing with this, but instead, have chosen to work with people who I admire, learn from, and enjoy surrounding myself with. When that has gotten out of alignment in any role or team I've been on, I have navigated to both ignore it and/or make a change. One of the things I've always tried to do over 20 years in the Bay Area and the tech community is to play the long game. (I supposed I grew up thinking this way even thinking about how I saw my mom plug in and integrate with the small community we lived in.)I know a lot of people who have underestimated me, or at least make me feel that way. And those are surely people I don't choose to surround myself with by. Hold your head high, and champion on!And yes. I LOVE letterpress. Hope you enjoy Paperwheel and some of our designs and prints! My odd intersection of tech + old printing and online/offline. :)Elizabeth
Gentry's profile thumbnail
Thank you! And ha. I'm the same with analog (baking) and digital (software) obsessions. They're very similar to me. Actually, baking is harder.
KristenPavle's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing your story - your experience and path are very interesting and fun! I particularly love the LEGO reference and find myself wanting to know if you see any connects between LEGOs and the business world? I've actually talked about this before with one of my co-founders: the concept of building the LEGO kit vs. going off-script and building something completely novel.On the angel investing front, I would love to know how you meet potential companies to invest in/how do people connect with you or typically get introduced? Also - how early are you comfortable investing in an early-stage company - how far along do you like to see a company? Lastly, how much of your investment decisions are based on the founding team (personality, past experience, passion, commitment) vs. the exact idea (which has great potential for change/pivot in early stages)?Thanks for your time and sharing your mind with us!Kristen
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
You are right, metrics vary widely based on type of company, business model, and market just to name a few. Instead, I find that I need to see a few leading indicators that give me conviction around a Pre Seed or Seed stage opportunity.I find that great founders choose a few core metrics to focus on, and make the case for why those are the ones to care about for their business.
KristenPavle's profile thumbnail
Thx Elizabeth.
Ricki's profile thumbnail
Hi @elizabethbaileyweil, thanks so much for this intro! Super interesting to see the breadth of your career to date - especially at VCs investing from seed stage to late stage.The question I'd like to ask is around traction. I'm building a marketplace called Club Melanin (www.instagram.com/club_melanin). We enable black women everywhere to find and book reputable stylists. Our key metrics at pre-seed at User mailing list sign ups and # transactions through our concierge program. Once the web app launches later this month, this will evolve to # of stylists on the platform and transaction metrics. I imagine this differs business to business, but do you have any advice on what good looks like, in terms of traction at Pre Seed and at Seed stage?
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
You are right, metrics vary widely based on type of company, business model, and market just to name a few. Instead, I find that I need to see a few leading indicators that give me conviction around a Pre Seed or Seed stage opportunity.I find that great founders choose a few core metrics to focus on, and make the case for why those are the ones to care about for their business.
verenalaw's profile thumbnail
Thanks Elizabeth for offering help to women group online! I’m Verena who was visiting student at Stanford too. In fact, I have considered applying Master in MSE. But I’m uncertain how it will help me developing my career in startup world. It would be great to hear how this education make an impact to your career.
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
I feel so fortunate to have discovered the MS&E department at Stanford. I thought Econ was going to be more "business." But I found economics more theoretical. For me, Management Science & Engineering was a perfect blend of business, engineering, and real-world company building and the tools needed to do that. I have always loved learning, but I think i'm best when "learning while doing" and I found that at Stanford in a variety of ways.I spent much of my undergrad time working at Stanford Student Enterprises---businesses a small org of students built and ran. I loved getting to both work and learn while pursuing academics too.The Mayfield Fellow Program enabled that for me as well.Keep following what you love and are interested in! I never had a master plan, but listened to me about what I loved learning and doing and who I liked surrounding myself with.
verenalaw's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for sharing the importance of doing on top of learning part. Looking into multiple areas of specialty and courses provided by MSE, any example of course you find useful in applying in your real-life work even after years? I love being at Stanford surrounded by those people and startup vibe. But I'm just uncertain what knowledge MSE exactly can brought me to do better.
premachuttoo's profile thumbnail
Hello ElizabethThats incredible what you are doing and have done as well.I would like to know the criteria needed when an early stage startup have recourse to investing.Thank you
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
See below! A few key things I look for when making an investment an early stage team and startup...
catherinewinckler's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much Elizabeth for carrying on the tradition of great elpha resources! I am a pre-revenue digital health company (MindfulGarden) entering our second clinical trials for our digital intervention to lower anxiety and aggression in those with chronic conditions, beginning with hyperactive dementia and ICU delirium. We have self and F&F funded for the past two years and just setting out to do our first big convertible raise ($850k) on March 11th, World Delirium Day. But I am worried about timing -- the world is different today than just a month ago with coronavirus and plunging markets. Do I postpone the raise, go ahead and build out more virtual introduction tools or? Would love your perspective.
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
First off, wonderful to hear that you are building a company to help tackle this. Sounds like you’ve already made a lot of progress. I’d ask yourself a few questions—do you need the cash infusion? What is your current burn rate? And what are you hoping to accomplish with the fundraise? I agree, so many things feel uncertain right now. I am seeing companies do both——hunkering down, or tackling a fundraise as planned.One idea would be to take the pressure off yourself to “potentially fail” at this fundraise. Sounds like you are in a position to start it, and if so, you can test the market, your network, and the appetite for this investment and solution now. Since we can’t predict the future, you can always try! If it provides too distracting to the business and not fruitful, you could instead focus on keeping your burn rate really low and continuing to build.Good luck!
catherinewinckler's profile thumbnail
This was really helpful Elizabeth. We decided to 'potentially fail' and start testing the waters. Since my post, we were admitted into Berkeley SkyDeck Global Innovation Partners accelerator so thought it was a great time to learn, network, plan and keep burn rate low. They are running this virtually first time ever so we were able to keep 100% of the funds at home and it was enough to keep everyone employed. Will take longer to get from A to C, but we'll survive and in the end, the raise I think will be even stronger.
wbollu's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for joining us!1. When you finished your Economics Bachelor's degree, what made you decide to go into a Masters in Management Science & Engineering? Was it an easy transition in terms of credentials needed to do that?2. When you and your partner decided to build out your family, what were the thoughts behind the timeframe to do that, split of work/family, and other considerations involved?
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Rest-assured, it all looks well-crafted now, as far as deciding to get my engineering masters post-economics degree, but it wasn’t! Basically, at Stanford, I was incredibly busy. I loved classes, working, extracurriculars, and athletics. When I participated in the Mayfield Fellows Program my Junior year, I interned at an early stage tech company and joined as employee #8. When the summer internship was over, I was loving it so much, contributing and learning a ton, so I stayed working. I took all of my classes and worked in every other minute. Then I woke up with a few months left before undergraduate education and just knew I wanted to extend my time at Stanford, and really dive into the department I wish I’d known existed when I started as a Freshman. The transition needed to be navigated, but Stanford is a university where many people do add an additional degree, so it wasn’t too tough!I always love the life-juggle family questions. This is one area, I really don’t think you can have a “master plan.” Kevin and I had been married, traveled, had bought a home, and we both knew we wanted children and envisioned a family. There is never a “right” time to do this. I think we realized that we wanted kids, but they weren’t just going to show up. I counsel a lot of young women at this stage of life. It is tricky to map the precise timing, career point, etc. I use the example of when I found out I was pregnant with the twins. I say it was the “WORST possible time.” I had accepted a General Partner role at a VC firm, planned to take 2 months before starting, and found out I was an early, high-risk, pregnancy with twins. I also had joined a firm where no one there had any young children. Only one person had 2 adult kids. Basically, my advice, is don’t plan too much because pregnancy, parenting, motherhood, and children shows you that these things are in many ways out of your control! :)Now, my husband and I have 3 small kids, both work full time, and both really do loving spending time together as a family. I feel fortunate that I found an industry that I love that can provide me flexibility for specific things. I have so much empathy for individuals that don’t have control of that. I have been honest with myself that this important to me at *this particular time* in life. I’ve also identified that this can change, there can be future chapters, and life is long (and far too short!)Honestly, I still feel a tremendous amount of “Mom-Guilt.” Parenting is hard. But oh so rewarding, exhausting, and fun!
wbollu's profile thumbnail
Right on the point that kids "...weren't just going to show up". It sounds like you are having a blast and still learning lots along the way.I will do some further research into the degrees because I've been thinking about going back to school for a more technical degree post Bachelors of International Business. Appreciate your time taken to answer the questions. Thank you very much @elizabethweil.
lynchen's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth! My name is Lyn and I'm the co-founder of an early stage startup called Layer (Layerci.com) Wow @ your career + life journey :)I'd love to ask -1) Being a VC: What were some challenges you faced breaking into the industry? What is your personal investment thesis and favorite places to source deals?2) Being a runner: Personally, I'm a powerlifter who wants to run more! Any great resources for first-time marathoners? 3) Being a mom: Any advice for family planning for female founders/VCs? You have such a fulfilling career and family that I aspire to have, any general or candid thoughts on this topic would be amazing. Thank you, Lyn
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Appreciate the kind words!1) As for breaking into the industry, personally, I was exposed to many individuals in the VC community by doing the things I loved throughout college. I was just following what I liked doing! I surrounded myself with people I was growing from, working through school and learning, and all within the Stanford community and the larger Silicon Valley. I did’t realize I was naturally “networking” with the people and friends that would ultimately help point me toward venture capital. Now I think there are even more ways to begin to plug into the VC ecosystem. There is no particular avenue in, but instead many great ways to show your passion for the industry. Even things like working at a startup, participating in an incubator/accelerator program, contributing to a scout fund, helping a micro VC or angel investor, meeting entrepreneurs in industries you love, and more!2. So glad you are carving out time to do something you love on the athletic side too! That very much helps make me who I am. Personally, for a first-time marathoner or someone just starting to pursue running more often, finding a local group or some running buddies or friends that are roughly your pace can be a great way to start. Most of my runs are with people that have now turned into being my best friends! We chat the entire time. Many local shoe stores even have running groups that meet in the area and often on weekends for longer runs too.3. See the post above all about the craziness of working + motherhood + marriage + pregnancy and more.
lynchen's profile thumbnail
Thanks @elizabethweil :) I really appreciate your time to respond! I love the advice on local groups - I was on the subway yesterday (I'm in Toronto!) and I had met someone who was a part of a 100 person running group here called TRIBE. Excited to try it out as the weather gets warmer! I'm so glad to hear running is a big part of your identity. <3Have a great weekend, Lyn
tramnguyen's profile thumbnail
Thanks for making time for this :) Two questions for you:1) Let's talk terms. For those of us who are just starting to angel invest, what are some basics we should know about potential investing terms? What are some things you wished you'd known about when you first started?2) Do you do any advising? Why / why not, and what are some things to consider when taking on advisory gigs for equity vs. cash?
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
Typically at the pre-seed and seed stages, I’ve found most founders are going with a SAFE note with either a pre or post-money cap. I like to see a plan and rationale for the size of that round as well. As you know, more money isn’t always better. When I first started angel investing nearly ten years ago, I wish I’d not been nervous to say no. There are some amazing founders I’ve had the chance to work with, but my gut said it wasn’t a company that was ultimately going to be large or scaleable. I think there are many ways to help early teams even if you end up saying no. One of the things I feel fortunate to have had is the opportunity to spend years within traditional venture capital firms. Even though much of seed and pre-seed has the “gut decision” element, I think it is important to apply traditional business logic around why you have conviction around an opportunity. Also, my favorite part about angel investing is sharing and the ability to co-invest with other great people! Like ideas, I think some of the best seed investments are shared with a small collective of other investors that can ultimately provide skills that can factor into the success of early opportunities.2. I do advise companies, and actually really like doing this! I don’t say yes to every opportunity though. I love when a founder or exec team pulls me in because of something they particularly need help with, or want some experience or expertise within their arsenal of talent. As for the cash/equity part, I’ve done both. And I do think there are times for either—for both you and the company. If there is a specific project with an clear goal or timeline, a stipend or consulting fee may make sense. When the founders or execs want my ongoing support, help, network access, and more, I typically advise for equity. Usually companies have a rationale for either, and can also depend on the stage of the company. Also, I’ve seen both equity and cash combined depending on the scope and term of the advising needs. Lastly, be honest about what YOU want to get out of it and what you are good at. In some of my earliest advising roles, I knew I could do a variety of things and wanted to be helpful in ALL SORTS of ways, but I feel better when I’m clear about what experience, traits, skills, and personality they are getting from me! :)
tramnguyen's profile thumbnail
Yeah Elizabeth!! <3
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
Hello! Cheers to you---a woman I admire more than you know!
Rosi's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth - Thanks for taking the time to share some wisdom and guidance. I wanted to see what your best tips on getting a mentor would be. Also, any tips for how to stand out as a first time founder would be amazing.
elizabethweil's profile thumbnail
Finding mentors can either be extremely hard, or so simple you don't realized it has happened! I obviously prefer the latter scenario since I think the best mentoring relationships are organic. Think of the people in your life who are already acting in some sort of mentor capacity. What else is it that you wish you got from them? What cadence would you like to be in contact? What else? Then think of the collection of "mentor-like" people in your life. Perhaps the solution is to have a portfolio approach to mentorship and you lean on particular people for certain things. I think asking someone to "formally" be your mentor is tricky, in my opinion. I don't think I have one mentor. Some days I wish I did. Instead, I've created a "Personal Board of Advisors." Those people have known me through different stages of my life and I lean on them for advice about different things or I lean on many of them when making important life decisions. Think of 4-5 people that you'd nominate for your Personal Board of Advisors!
samanthahu's profile thumbnail
Hi @elizabethbaileyweil, I am Samantha from (www.alacarteforchef.com), a custom tool for food creators to build and monetize their creative skills online. I have following some great essays about passion economy published by A16Z. What is your opinion about passion project vs gig economy? What role does a platform owner play? Thank you for your time and cheers!
ybai1719's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for your sharing. We are trying to provide engineering and supply chain services to Startup companies. Here is the website: https://triplesolid.com/ It seems that investors are looking for something that can scale up quick. While it seems hard as a service company. Any advice? Thank you so much. Have a great day.
betsyehrenberg's profile thumbnail
Elizabeth, can we schedule a call to review our investment needs? Our company is launched and we are in revenue. I love the idea that you would create custom logo stationery for us but more than that, I hope you are excited about our company, its mission and my vision. Can I send you a pitch deck? Our site is intentionally bland since we are first to market in this space. Betsy
janicetaylor's profile thumbnail
This is so great that you are here! Thanks for lending your talents!
Stela's profile thumbnail
Thanks for taking the time. As an investor, what are the most important qualities you would look in a founder, project and team when you don't have access to the demographic info, so you can't guess the nationality, background, or where the person attended Univ? I'm building a platform to connect diverse talent to tech companies. For now, we focus on women in technical and leadership roles, but I want to include founders and investors in the future. For me being inclusive means including everyone, so was planning on moving towards a "blind" platform. where we have women, men, from all backgrounds, religions, etc and they are just being hired or invested in based on the skills and capabilities, removing all biases.
Izabel415's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth- thank you so much for taking questions! The main issue my co-founder and I are facing is that we can't show any real traction until we launch the final version of our product, but in order to launch, we need more funding. We’re building an online automated investment advisor (“robo-advisor”) that creates complete portfolios customized to fit each user’s sustainability values. Because we’re a financial services platform, we face stringent regulations and can’t onboard any users or take their capital until our product is complete. There are a few third party service providers we need to integrate with (clearing and custody firm, for example) that require monthly minimums which we need more funding to meet. We do, however, have a dummy site that is accepting waitlist emails to show some sort of traction. What advice would you give to a startup that doesn’t yet have users or revenue to show?In terms of being a working mom- I struggle with deciding how much I bring my identity as a mom to the forefront during business interactions. For example- I’m a single mom to a 3 year old, and living on the west coast, I have a lot of early morning conference calls that happen before his daycare is open. So there isn't anyone around to watch him during that time. He often ends up being an extra guest on the calls because toddlers aren’t always the best at entertaining themselves :) Is this something I should work harder at avoiding? If the call is particularly important and I think it’s inappropriate that he interrupt, I’ll of course coordinate babysitting. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this!(My son hasn’t picked up the LEGO bug yet, but I’ve found that stepping on the plastic dinosaurs he leaves all over our apartment to be almost as painful)
Annalouisewestern's profile thumbnail
Hi Elizabeth, nice to meet you! Also, interesting to meet another Weil, that is my mom's maiden name. :) I'm at a very early stage of building a product as a side project. I have a working prototype that a small number of people have been using consistently since we launched. I'm not ready to start fundraising yet, but I'm wondering if it makes sense to try to share the product with investors to start building relationships and possibly get feedback prior to going out to try for a seed round. I guess I'm also pretty nervous about trying to raise money and failing. I guess the question is about how to build investor relationships prior to being ready to raise and how best to do that. Thanks!!
joclark's profile thumbnail
First, wow! You're a superwoman! and Thx for your time... Second: do you hv advice for being a non-tech female founder of hard tech? I'm reinventing shopping online. There are so many inefficiencies; it has to be retooled from the ground up but people glaze over b/c they see it's a large undertaking (and capital intensive). Women do 85% of all shopp'g but it's all been architected by men. I could use an Angel who believes in the overall mission who could connect me to the right players. I'm experienced; raised $45M in a prior startup that won awards; profiled in Vogue mag etc. Thx again! jo@noww.co
vanessavw's profile thumbnail
Welcome to Elpha Elizabeth! I used to design wedding invitations & stationery and adore printing letterpress! So fun. :) I'd love to pick your brain on early start up valuation. I have a 3-year-old e-commerce store that's been growing rapidly recently with a small amount of angel money we secured. https://alchemyfinehome.com/ @alchemyfinehome on IGWe are now trying to close our next round to build out an amazing b2b & b2c design tool that we've been cleared to patent. I'd love to see how you would evaluate my business that combines an existing profitable store with the technology we're aiming to build.Thank you in advance!
Hi Elizabeth. My name is Iza Martin and I am a 12 year old tech entrepreneurs in NYC. I have been 7 years in girl scout and 4 years at Cornel Tech Robotics program. Last year we won the National Championship in Robotics and I was invited to a dinner with Obama and to the Forbes Women Summit.I recently I was granted a US patent for new technology that I invented that I believe could have large impact in this difficult times.I wonder if you have time to see my pitch and give some advise over zoom.That would mean a lot to me.Here is my Linkedin:https://www.linkedin.com/in/iza-martin-nyc/My email address is iza@hiroger.coThank you so much for the attention.XOXOIza