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Network Updates, 2 Mar. 2017

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Upcoming Events

Applications for Class 22 Closed—
Interviewers Still Needed

Thanks to all the Fellows who submitted nominations for Class 22—we have many phenomenal candidates to consider. As we received a lot of applications in Round 3, we still need help to interview them. Please email Katlyn Mease by the end of this week if you are able to assist in the next 2-3 weeks.


  • Interesting synergy between Joe Floyd’s (Class 18) 2017 industry cloud analysis and Lak Ananth’s (Class 12) 2016 Kauffman Fellows Report article
  • Neeraj Gupta’s (Class 20) Cervin Ventures profiled in TechCrunch, closes $56M fund
  • Grace Sai (Class 21) interviewed on her work fostering Singapore startups
  • Kauffman Fellows and Mentor honored by PitchBook as Black investors making a difference in tech
  • Portfolio happenings:
    • Bernard Peperstraete (Class 11) and AcuamarkDx competing tonight to win the NYC “HBS Alumni New Venture Competition”
    • Evolution Equity (Richard Seewald, Class 16) leads round in UBEA security firm Fortscale Security
    • Creandum (Daniel Blomquist, Class 16) leads round in mobile gaming firm Armada Interactive
  • Podcasts & speaking events:
    • Shailendra Singh (Class 11) kicked off Sequoia Capital India’s Sequoia Camp 2017 last week
    • Ken Horne (Class 17) and Daniel Kraft (Class 13) on NPR’s TechNation broadcast
    • Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) to keynote SAP Ariba Live conference
    • Trish Costello (KF Founding CEO) to speak at IEEE Women in Engineering conference
    • Daniel Kraft (Class 13) on “Between Worlds” podcast
  • This week’s blog selections: Josh Breinlinger (Class 21) on “Master Marketplaces” for service industries • Hana Yang (Class 20) on getting the most from a mentoring relationship • Carl Fritjofsson (Class 21) delivers Part 3 of his advice to startups expanding internationally
  • Job openings: Savano Capital PartnersAmasiaWhite Star CapitalSapphire Ventures

Interesting synergy between Joe Floyd’s (Class 18) 2017 Industry Cloud Analysis and Lak Ananth’s (Class 12) 2016 Kauffman Fellows Report Article

TechCrunchIn the TechCrunch article “Why 2017 Will Be the Year of the Industry Cloud,” Joe Floyd (Class 18) shares his observations and predictions about industry-focused cloud companies and why these firms will be increasingly valuable and seen as acquisition targets by both horizontal software companies and non-software firms, such as GE and Verizon. Drawing on data from 2016, Joe predicts “a full-blown buying spree in 2017. … Large diversified industrial and telecom companies have not only realized the value of the industry cloud, but have grasped that they must evolve into technology companies to avoid disruption.”

Industry cloud companies specifically are attractive acquisition targets because by their nature they have deep, focused troves of data specific to the industries they serve. The expansion of the IoT will only add to this data stockpile, and will allow these cloud companies to offer tailored services to the companies they serve. Joe and his firm, Emergence Capital, are bullish specifically on cloud companies focused on the deskless worker—in industries such as construction, retail, medical, and transportation—that have as yet been underserved by improvements from cloud-based services.

Kauffman Fellows Report, vol. 7Lak Ananth (Class 12) examines this very topic in his recent Kauffman Fellows Report article, “High-Tech Exceptionalism: From the Front Lines.” Drawing on his breadth of experience, Lak addresses the question: what can companies do to survive tectonic shifts in technology? He categorizes companies into either SAMs (“steady and mature” — large, profitable, but no longer expanding), TOMs (“top of mind” — today’s rock stars, at scale and growing), or BOBs (“bunch of bets” — one of many potential stars of the future, fueled by hope and often scarce investment capacity).

Their views and advice come together on this topic. Specifically, Joe believes that large, diversified firms [SAMs] in the current landscape will “take an aggressive deal-making posture. They can afford to make mistakes in what they choose to buy [BOBs]. What they can’t afford is to lose the leadership positions they’ve built in their historical market segments.”

Read Joe Floyd’s TechCrunch article and Lak Ananth’s Kauffman Fellows Report article.

Neeraj Gupta’s (Class 20) Cervin Ventures Profiled in TechCrunch, Closes $56M Fund

TechCrunchCongratulations to Neeraj Gupta (Class 20), whose firm, Cervin Ventures, just closed a $56M fund. TechCrunch profiled the firm in conjunction with the announcement, and reports that the firm plans to invest in seed-stage startups in the enterprise infrastructure, data, and software sectors. Its previous portfolios consisted of angel and micro-VC investments.

Discussing the firm’s investment philosophy, the article points out that Cervin differs from many VC firms that are often reaching for the “home run” investment; Cervin is “willing to meaningfully support companies that wind up a bit shy of those metrics.” Instead of a pyramid of exits with many failures at the bottom and a few massive returns at the top, Cervin’s is “a diamond, [with] lots of 3-5X companies and a few 10X.”

Going forward, Neeraj and his co-founder are cautious about VR and AI. They see the VR market becoming dominated by a small number of platforms, and the better areas for investment will be content providers. They also believe that every application in the future will necessarily involve some level of AI, and now ask company founders, “What else do you do?”

Grace Sai (Class 21) Interviewed on Her Work Fostering Singapore Startups

Impact Hub SingaporeIn the interview “Singapore Dispatch: Grace Sai Is Fostering Startup Communities,“ Grace (Class 21) relates how she broke the traditional model of business progression early-on, upon finishing university, by building libraries in rural areas of the world in lieu of the safety of a corporate job. “My dad and I didn’t talk for 6 months,” she says. But those experiences led her to Oxford for her MBA and then to founding Impact Hub Singapore, a co-working space that now has 2 downtown locations, and to the recent establishment of Impact’s VC fund to invest in its local startups.

Grace relays 3 pieces of advice for U.S. college entrepreneurs. First, she says, “Get out of America and travel! There’s so much more to the world than America, and the best way to grow is to put yourself in new environments.” Second is to start a business for reasons other than wealth or fame; these will come as a byproduct of success. “The third piece of advice is to kill the notion that there is always someone out there who knows better. We often think that the people who are currently in power in an industry know better than us. But I can tell you it’s not true. If you start thinking someone else is better than you and that you can’t solve the problem at hand, you will always stay in your comfort zone.” [Full story]

Kauffman Fellows and Mentor Honored by PitchBook as Black Investors Making a Difference in Tech

PitchbookIn honor of Black History Month, PitchBook honored 13 Black company founders and 15 venture capitalists making an impact in the tech industry. Congratulations to Wale Ayene (Class 18), who leads VC investment in Africa on behalf of the IFC (the International Finance Corporation), which is part of the World Bank. Also honored is Wale’s Kauffman Mentor, Eghosa Omoigui, a Managing Partner at EchoVC Partners, where Wale served his Fellowship. EchoVC backs leading technologies in sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Southeast Asia.

PitchBook also recognized the 3 co-founders of Cross-Culture Ventures, Trevor Thomas (Class 17), Marlon Nichols (Class 18), and Troy Carter. Trevor and Marlon have said in interviews that while they are not explicitly focused on the startups of under-represented minorities, they are quite interested in investing where diversity brings new ideas and trends to the fore and drives greater success.

Portfolio happenings:

  • Good luck to Bernard Peperstraete (Class 11) and his firm, AcuamarkDx, this evening! Developing technology to detect early-stage cancer markers, AcuamarkDx is one of 8 finalists in the New York City “HBS Alumni New Venture Competition.”
  • Richard Seewald’s (Class 16) Evolution Equity led the recent $7M round for Fortscale Security. Fortscale offers software products in the UBEA (User Behavior and Entity Analytics) sector to reduce data breaches and uncover insider threats, including compromised employee credentials, with real-time risk level assessment and adaptive responses. The firm plans to use its new funding to grow its presence in European and LatAm markets. “Fortscale is a globally recognized innovator in UBEA that is leading the ongoing fight against insider threats,” said Richard. [Press release]
  • Daniel Blomquist (Class 16) of Sweden-based Creandum led the company’s recent investment round in Armada Interactive. Daniel comments that the current market for mobile gaming is dominated not only by a small number of companies, but even by a small number of games—however, he believes “Armada has the potential to change that.” There is huge market potential in providing a “mobile game experience that can rival or surpass what [users] are used to on PC and console.” Daniel believes Armada is “where mobile gaming is heading.” Read his medium.com post.

Podcasts and speaking events:

  • In Singapore last week,Sequoia Capital India completed its annual tech summit for its portfolio companies, Camp Sequoia. The event’s keynote speaker was Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Shailendra Singh (Class 11) kicked off the 3-day event with a session entitled “Blurring Borders and Re-Imagining Possibilities.”
  • On February 22, NPR’s TechNation weekly broadcast featured two Kauffman Fellows in its health segment. First Ken Horne (Class 17), CEO of SymicBio, discusses his firm’s work on improving the long-term outcomes of angioplasty and osteoarthritis of the knee; later in the segment Daniel Kraft (Class 13), Chair of Medicine at Singularity University, discusses the future of medical education. Listen here or on the Tech Nation Radio podcast website.
  • Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4), CEO of LandIt, will be one of the keynotes at the SAP Ariba Live conference for female executives in Las Vegas later this month. The event is a special forum to discuss this transformation and ways in which they can help to accelerate it. [Press release]
  • Trish Costello (Kauffman Fellows Founding CEO), CEO of Portfolia will speak at the May IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference in San Jose, discussing entrepreneurial funding. The conference provides leading-edge professional development for mid-level and senior women in technology, whether they work in industry, government, or academia.
  • Daniel Kraft (Class 13) was also on a second podcast this last week: “Daniel Kraft on Data, Machine Learning, and the Future of Health Care” on the “Between Worlds” podcast, in which he talks about how “traditional medicine is being disrupted by the digital age.”

This week’s blog selections:

Job opportunities:

If you are a Fellow or Mentor and would like to post a job at your firm or portfolio company, please email us. Jobs are removed from this list after 4 weeks.

  • Bion Ludwig (Class 18) has put the word out that Savano Capital Partners is looking to fill two positions: an Analyst/Associate and a Principal. The Associate would be supporting the firm’s partners in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. A minimum of 2 years relevant work experience and a deep understanding and passion for the technology field are required. See the firm’s complete job description and qualifications requirements. • While the Principal position does not have a specified job description, Bion writes that this Partner-track position requires significant deal/investment experience, a passion for technology/growth companies, a desire to live in the Washington, DC area and, ultimately, a good fit with the existing team. Savano raised its second fund last year, and is looking for people who can hit the ground running. Email Bion with questions: bion@brownsavano.com.
  • John Kim (Class 20) reports that Amasia is looking to hire Associates in both its Singapore and Silicon Valley offices. Amasia focuses on cross-border tech investing and has a startup, entrepreneurial-feel to their firm. Interested candidates must be comfortable operating with only basic instructions in a multi-country environment. Exceptional writing and financial modeling skills are required. Read the full job description. Questions? Contact John: jk@amasia.vc.
  • White Star Capital is looking to hire an Associate to grow its Montreal team. This person will wear many hats: financial modeling, due diligence, and competitive analysis; supporting overall Fund operations, including portfolio monitoring and financial reporting; and generating deal flow and maintaining relationships with key players in the ecosystem. Two years of relevant work experience required and bilingual English/French a plus; travel to tech hubs is expected. Read their medium.com post for full details and application information. (This job posting was sent in from Lylan Masterman, Class 19.)
  • Nino Marakovic (Mentor Class 13) posted on LinkedIn that Sapphire Ventures is looking for a Vice President, Talent Network. This individual will help place executives in the firm’s IT startup portfolio companies as part of the Market Development Group. This exceptional networker will understand the needs of the firm’s portfolio companies in order to develop the relationships necessary to be the go-to person for talent needs. 8+ years experience required. See the full job description and application information on LinkedIn.

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

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