20VC: One Question Founders Must Ask Themselves When Approaching Investor Selection, Why Series B Is One Of The Most Challenging Phases & What Makes For A Successful CEO Transition with Jeff Russakow, CEO @ Boosted

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Jeff Russakow is the CEO @ Boosted, the startup producing vehicle grade electric skateboards rethinking how we travel. To date, they have raised $74m in funding from the likes of Khosla Ventures, iNovia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and our friends at Initialized. Prior to Boosted, Jeff was CEO @ Gimbal where he doubled revenue in his first year and added 80 new enterprise clients. Before that, Jeff was the CEO @ Findly where he grew the company to 450 employees and 20m end users. Jeff also enjoyed prior roles with the likes of Symantec, Adobe, SAP and Yahoo.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jeff made his way from leading enterprise CEO to re-thinking the way we travel today as CEO of Boosted?

2.) How does Jeff analyse the current sentiment to fundraising in the valley, specifically with regards to business construction? How has Jeff seen the investor class fundamentally transition over the last 20 years? When approaching investor selection, what is the 1 question that Jeff always asks? Where do founders often make mistakes here?

3.) Having raised the $60m round in 2018, how does Jeff approach the theme of capital efficiency today with Boosted? How does Jeff determine when is the right time to pour fuel on the fire? Why is Series B often the most challenging phase when considering the focus on unit economics and vision simultaneously?

4.) What is Jeff’s gut reaction to the statement, “hardware is hard”? Why does Jeff feel this to be a glib statement that misses the point? How does Jeff respond to the criticism of the commodity element of hard, easy to replicate and copy? How would Jeff like to see the investor class change their mindset to hardware? What is the right way to approach it?

5.) What are the core elements required for a successful CEO transition? For a potentially incoming CEO, what must they be wary of with regards to the information conveyed to them by investors of the company? Where has Jeff seen many go wrong in CEO transitions? What can the founders do to make this process as smooth as possible?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Jeff’s Fave Book: The Missing Piece 

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20VC: Initialized’s Garry Tan on The Most Important Thing A Seed Investor Can Do For Founders, How Ownership Requirements Change With Evolution of Funds & Why There Is Not Too Much Capital Chasing Too Few Deals

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Garry Tan is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner @ Initialized Capital, one of the West Coast’s leading early-stage funds with a portfolio including the likes of Coinbase, Instacart, Cruise, Flexport and Opendoor, just to name a few. As for Garry, before co-founding Initialized, he was a partner at Y Combinator for nearly five years where he advised and funded over 600 companies. He was also co-founder of YC-backed blog platform Posterous (acquired by Twitter in 2012). Before that he was employee #10 at Palantir, where he was a founding member of the engineering team for Palantir’s financial analysis product, and also fun fact, Garry designed Palantir’s logo.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Garry made his way from Founder and YC Partner to managing over $500m AUM today with his leading of Initialized? How did Garry’s investment mindset change with the transition from angel to an institutional investor?

2.) What does Garry believe is the one thing pre-seed and seed investors must do that is more important than anything else? What relationship to the very best founders have with failure? How do they think about and approach it? How has Garry seen his own conviction building process in founders change over time? How does Garry approach the turning down of opportunities? What is the right way to deliver that feedback?

3.) Ownership: Initialized’s funds have scaled from Fund I being $7m to Fund 4 being $225m, how have their ownership requirements changed with the evolution of their fund size? How does Garry think about collaboration and co-opetition with others funds as a result? What are the core challenges here?

4.) Price Sensitivity: With the larger fund and slightly more flexibility, how does Garry evaluate his own price sensitivity? What deal has Garry passed on due to price and it has stuck with him and taught him a valuable lesson? On pricing, how does Garry and Initialized approach reserve allocation?

5.) Investment Decision-Making: Garry has previously said “decision-making is a differentiator”, what do Initialized do to ensure the highest quality of internal discussion and decision-making? How do they approach unanimous vs single partner decision-making? How does Initialized approach internal attribution with this in mind?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Garry’s Fave Book: Peter Thiel’s Zero To OnePaul Graham’s Hackers and Painters

Garry’s Most Recent Investment: Standard Cognition

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Garry on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

 

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