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Network Updates, 18 May 2017

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Upcoming Events

Log into TENx for complete details and RSVP information for all KF events, unless noted.

  • Venture Deals Online Course – Register through Monday, May 22: 7-week course with Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson (free)
  • June 11-16: Summer modules & Vesting Day (graduation), Classes 20-22
  • June 23: New York Regional Chapter breakfast
  • September 14: KF Women’s Group breakfast, Bay Area location TBD
  • September 22: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
  • December 8: NY Regional Chapter breakfast
  • International Summit, April 22-27, 2018: Tel Aviv & Jerusalem, ISRAEL

Can’t log into TENx? Contact Remi Morita or John McIntyre for assistance or event details.


  • Jason Seats (Class 21) explains that a startup CEO’s health is a company asset in Entrepreneur video
  • Khaldoon Tabaza (Class 15) and iMENA group featured in Venture Magazine
  • Thanks to the volunteer TAs for the Venture Deals online course
  • Andrew Farquharson (Class 9) discusses healthcare IPO landscape in MarketWatch
  • Tracy Saxton (Class 15) invests in sectors that others “find hard and boring”
  • On the move & special mentions: Chrys Chrysanthou (Class 21), Stephen Chandler (Mentor Class 21), and Notion Capital making news with promotion and fund closing • Sofia Garrido (Class 21) has moved to General Atlantic in Mexico City
  • Podcasts: Daniel Kraft’s (Class 13) on “The Internet of Medical Things” in latest TechNation Radio broadcast
  • This week’s blog selections: Patrick Burtis (Class 11) writes on the power of momentum for a startup’s fundraising • Gil Dibner (Class 13) offers insights on enterprise tech in 2017
  • Job opportunities: (NEW) Accel seeks a Partner in its London Office • PropelVC looks for Analyst, Associate, and Partner hires in London

Jason Seats (Class 21) Explains that a Startup CEO’s Health Is a Company Asset

Entrepreneur LogoIn a video interview with Entrepreneur, Jason Seats (Class 21), Managing Partner at Techstars, blames “our modern culture of drive and go and push” for motivating founders, and particularly CEOs, to sacrifice themselves for the good of the company. However, the CEO is a piece of an organization, and if the CEO damages herself, the organization suffers too. Conversely, taking care of oneself as CEO constitutes an investment in the company.

Khaldoon Tabaza (Class 15) and iMENA Group Featured in Venture Magazine

Khaldoon Tabaza Venture Magazine articleKhaldoon Tabaza (Class 15) and his iMENA co-founder were the feature article in the May issue of Venture Magazine. The article takes an in-depth look at tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as well as iMENA’s founding and investment strategy that has led it to produce a number of market-leading startups. They discuss the unique role that Jordan now plays in the tech startup landscape. Khaldoon observes, “If you look at the most successful online businesses in the region, they have originated one way or the other from Jordan.” Noting that Jordan lacks “comfortable multinational corporate jobs,” many young, educated, and ambitious Jordanians “take the entrepreneurial path.” Other assets of the country’s workforce include multilingual employees who understand the nuances of doing business in the region. Since access to capital in Jordan is still limited, many firms that start in Jordan expand first to UAE or Saudi Arabia for their next phases of funding and growth.

Khaldoon and his partner, Adey Salamin, go on to discuss their own history in the region, having set up one of the first Internet portals in the region in 1993. At the time the user base in the area was quite small, and so they stepped away from that sector; by 2013, with the help of the mobile revolution, Khaldoon and Adey decided there were opportunities to be had, and established iMENA’s hybrid operator/investor model. Khaldoon says that the firm’s strategy has always been based on “defensive business models,” those that “target the largest existing markets in the region that are undergoing digital transformation, and where such business models can have a strong network effect that creates high barriers to entry.” As such, iMENA has always stayed away from e-retail, as the barriers to entry are low; instead, they have focused on classifieds and marketplaces.

Khaldoon’s advice for those interested in starting a business in the region: “Start by selecting the right market, one that’s big enough to justify the risk. Also select the right business model, one that’s immune to global players who are ahead in funding and maturity.” Read the full story, including details about their most successful investments to date. For more on Khaldoon’s investment philosophy and his focus on the marketplace and classifieds sectors, see his article in Kauffman Fellows Report, Volume 6—”MENA’s Internet Industry: The Opportunity, Challenges, and Success Stories.

Thank You to the Volunteer TAs for the Venture Deals Online Course

Our gratitude goes out to the Fellows who have volunteered to be teaching assistants for the Venture Deals online course, offered jointly by Kauffman Fellows Academy and Techstars: Andrew Goldner (Class 21), Consuelo Valverde (Class 19), and Gayathri Radhakrishnan (Class 16).

There’s still time to register for this 7-week course! Registration will stay open through Monday, May 22; see the website for course information.

Andrew Farquharson (Class 9) Discusses Healthcare IPO Landscape in MarketWatch

MarketWatch logoThe MarketWatch article “Health-Care IPOs Weighted Down by Obamacare Uncertainty” takes a look at the lack of healthcare IPOs that have occurred in the last few years, noting that the 2017 figure is the lowest its been since 2012. Andrew Farquharson (Class 9), Managing Partner at InCube Ventures, was asked for his views on the IPO retreat since the sector’s high in 2015. Andrew comments that the pullback isn’t all bad: “The biotech party of the past few years is over, and rightly so.” He believes that the market is returning to a “healthy normal,” after a period of years when the sector was popular and attracted too many generalist investors. In the more recent market, firms specializing in life sciences are evaluating the IPOs: “Experts are pricing them. The world is returning to what it should be.”

Tracy Saxton (Class 15) Invests in Sectors that Others “Find Hard and Boring”

Tracy Saxton (Class 15), Managing Partner at Pivotal bioVenture Partners, was one of the investors interviewed for the Fast Company article “Why These VCs Are Investing in Fields that Others Find Hard and Boring.” In the investing world, it’s often the fast-moving, flashy fields that get much of the attention, but investors like Tracy are drawn elsewhere. Developing a new medicine is essentially a lengthy, expensive experiment: it starts with an hypothesis, and only after a typical expenditure of $2.6B and 12-15 years, she says, is it clear “whether you have a viable drug that you can take to the FDA for approval.”

If the answer is “yes”—and sometimes it isn’t—an approved drug still needs doctor education and real-world studies. It may also require changes to medical practice. It will definitely, of course, need someone to pay for it all. That’s where companies like Pivotal come in, and where Tracy’s PhD in molecular and medical genetics helps her evaluate which potential drugs are most likely to pay off in this long-tailed environment. But money is not what motivates her: “I don’t wake up in the morning and ask myself if what I do is important, or if it makes a difference in the world. I know it.”

On the move & special mentions:

  • Congratulations to Chrys Chrysanthou (Class 21), Stephen Chandler (Mentor Class 21), and London-based Notion Capital. TechCrunch reports this week that Chrys has been promoted to Partner, and the firm closed its third early-stage fund at $140M. The firm also announced a new fund with a target of $80M, to be used for growth-stage investments (Series C and beyond) in its top-performing portfolio companies. TechCrunch reports that over half of that target has been raised already. The goal of this follow-on fund is to “position the firm as an even more attractive and long-term funding partner for the companies and founders it backs.” See the TechCrunch article for Stephen’s discussion of how Brexit is affecting UK fundraising. Congratulations again to Chrys on the promotion!
  • Sofia Garrido (Class 21) is now an Associate in General Atlantic’s Mexico City office, where she is in charge of monitoring the healthcare as well as retail and consumer portfolio companies, in addition to assessing new investment opportunities in these sectors throughout LatAm.


Daniel Kraft’s (Class 13) latest TechNation Radio broadcast is about “The Internet of Medical Things,” and what it can do for us.

This week’s blog selections:

Job opportunities:

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Do you have a news story to share? Please email us: news@kfp.org.

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