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Network Updates, 23 Feb. 2017

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Fellows: Interviewers Still Needed for Class 22

We ask for your help in the next 2 months to interview the great candidates that have been nominated by our Society for Class 22. Interviewers’ feedback strongly influences admission decisions, and each Fellow who interviews a candidate provides an important perspective. Please complete this form if you are able to assist, letting us know your availability during February–March. Your prompt response is much appreciated and will help us schedule candidates efficiently.


  • Victor Hwang (Class 12) testifies before Congress on barriers to entrepreneurship as Kauffman Foundation releases report
  • Latest Entrepreneur video features Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21) on the value of peer support for startup founders
  • Jodi Sherman Jahic (Class 5) writes “When Less Is More” in TechCrunch
  • Emergence Capital named finalist for NVCA “Venture Firm of the Year”
  • Portfolio happenings:
    • Matter (Corey Ford, Class 17) has follow-on investment in NewsWhip, led by Tribal Ventures (Conor Stanley, Class 17; Tadhg O’Toole, Class 18)
    • Cross Culture Ventures (Trevor Thomas, Class 17; Marlon Nichols, Class 18) joins ReplyYes Series A
    • Graham Gardner’s (Class 12) Kryuus enters strategic partnership with Mercy Health
    • Notion Capital (Chrys Chrysanthou, Class 21) invests in $5.5M round for Smartup
  • Podcasts, videos, & presentations: Lylan Masterman (Class 19) on “Something Ventured with Kent Lindstrom”
  • On the move: Patricia Beckmann (Class 12) • Steve Curtis (Class 21)
  • Job openings: Savano Capital PartnersAmasiaWhite Star CapitalSapphire Ventures

Victor Hwang (Class 12) Testifies Before Congress on Barriers to Entrepreneurship as Kauffman Foundation Releases Report

Kauffman Foundation ReportThis week the Kauffman Foundation released a report on entrepreneurship, entitled Zero Barriers: Three Mega Trends Shaping the Future of Entrepreneurship. President of the Foundation, Wendy Guillies, announced its release during the Foundation’s 8th annual “State of Entrepreneurship Address,” delivered at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. The report finds an overall, long-term decline in entrepreneurship in the United States and identifies three trends that are reshaping its domestic landscape:

  • New demographics of entrepreneurship: While the country is becoming more racially diverse, entrepreneurs (80% white / 65% male) do not reflect the changing population. The US population is also growing older, affecting the pipeline of entrepreneurs.
  • New map of entrepreneurship: Venture capital has indeed spread beyond its Silicon Valley and Boston hubs to mid-sized cities across the US, but it remains concentrated in urban areas. Measures of entrepreneurship in rural areas, however, have fallen by 40-50% over the last 30 years.
  • New nature of entrepreneurship: In the past, companies would grow revenue and jobs at similar rates; today’s technology allows startups to grow revenue with much less hiring. These technology changes have also lowered the barriers to entry for new startups.

In response to these findings—that not all Americans have the same access to entrepreneurial opportunities and are not experiencing its benefits—the Foundation has launched a new initiative, Zero Barriers to Startup. Victor Hwang (Class 12), Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Foundation, has a bold proclamation on the Zero Barriers website:

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to turn an idea into an economic reality, regardless of who you are or where you’re from, with zero barriers in the way. We’re calling on every entrepreneur—and everyone who fights for entrepreneurs—to help clear the path for the makers, the doers, the dreamers.

Victor Hwang before Congress, February 2017

After the report’s publication, Victor testified before the U.S. House Small Business Committee (Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access) on “The Entrepreneurship Deficit.” You can read the full text of Victor’s remarks on his LinkedIn blog post, or watch the video. In his testimony, Victor outlined the Foundation’s research and results, and explained that Zero Barriers to Startup is a “collaborative, nationwide effort to identify barriers, big and small, that get in the way of new business creation.” The Foundation will team up with entrepreneurs, policymakers, and other stakeholders to design solutions together. Victor urged members of Congress to engage with this process in their own home districts, host “entrepreneur town halls,” tour their local entrepreneurial support organizations, and invite startup founders back to Washington to add their testimony about the barriers they face. And most importantly, Victor urged them to then act on what they learn and the solutions they identify.

Latest Entrepreneur Video Features Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21) on the Value of Peer Support for Startup Founders

Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21) of StartX Fund was the latest Kauffman Fellow to appear in a video interview segment on Entrepreneur. Suzanne’s discussion, “Successful Founders Understand the Value of Community,” stresses that founders need to actively seek out peer support—not only for getting through the tough times, but to accelerate their own learning based on what has worked (or not) for other founders.

Jodi Sherman Jahic (Class 5) Writes “When Less Is More” in TechCrunch

TechCrunchJodi Sherman Jahic (Class 5) authored a TechCrunch article, “When Less Is More,” in which she asks startups to consider that the conventional fundraising wisdom—raise more money than you need right now, to have some surplus on hand for more maneuverability—may not be true. “You can actually increase your degrees of freedom not only by not spending money you have, but by not having too much to begin with. The best move for many startups is to raise just enough money to achieve key milestones.” Why is this less-is-more strategy better? Jodi and her firm, Aligned Partners, invest in and encourage their portfolio companies to maintain capital-efficient operations, and to raise more only when their products and processes support the rationale for expanding. Being capital-efficient forces startups to remain focused on a narrow product target; excess capital allows companies to become overstretched in their thinking and planning. Weathering a storm, Jodi says, is also easier with less capital: more efficient companies will have a lower burn rate. Companies with lots of capital will also be spending lots of capital, and during a sudden market shock they will have to “make tough, morale-crushing decisions blindingly fast—such as laying off a large portion of [their] workforce or abandoning whole sectors of [their] business.” Jodi additionally points out that lower fundraising for startups means lower dilution and more exit options; companies with high valuations may have founder and investor interests that are misaligned, with investors more focused on the 10x return and unwilling to accept smaller exit opportunities. [Full story]

Emergence Capital Named Finalist for NVCA “Venture Firm of the Year”

Emergence CapitalCongratulations to Emergence Capital Partners, and the many Kauffman Fellows and Mentors at the firm: Jason Green (Charter Class, Mentor Class 20), Brian Jacobs (Mentor Class 11), Gordon Ritter (Mentor Class 15), Kevin Spain (Class 11, Mentor Class 18), Santi Subotovsky (Class 15), Joe Floyd (Class 18), and Jake Saper (Class 20). Emergence is one of three finalists for the “Venture Firm of the Year” award by the NVCA, to be recognized at the association’s gala dinner next month. The award recognizes firms “for their significant contributions to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem and generate returns for their investors. Firms receiving the award are recognized for strong fund performance and high exit multiples for recent exits.”

Portfolio happenings:

  • Matter (Corey Ford, Class 17) announced via a medium.com post it has made a follow-on investment the recent $6.4M Series A round for Ireland-based NewsWhip. The round was led by Tribal Ventures, which is led by our very own Conor Stanley (Class 17) and Tadhg O’Toole (Class 18). Says Corey, “Having worked … the NewsWhip team since participating in their seed round two years ago, I have been incredibly impressed with how fast they have been able to move. They found a deep need in the media industry, solved it with a highly technical but also highly usable product, and then grew their customer base rapidly. When it came time for their Series A, it was a no-brainer to double down on them.”
  • Cross Culture Ventures (Trevor Thomas, Class 17; Marlon Nichols, Class 18) joined the ReplyYes $6.5M Series A round. The company’s product is The Edit, a text-based service that sends vinyl fans daily recommendations based on their musical preferences and allows them to instantly purchase and ship the record by simply replying “Yes.” The service sold more than 100,000 vinyl albums via mobile text in its first 18 months of operation. [Press release]
  • Graham Gardner’s (Class 12) Kryuus announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Mercy Health, the largest health system in Ohio. The agreement includes a direct investment into Kyruus as well as a plan to collaborate closely on the future development of Kyruus’ ProviderMatch™ provider search and scheduling applications. [Press release]
  • Chrys Chrysanthou (Class 21) wrote a medium.com post announcing Notion Capital’s investment in the recent $5.5M round for Smartup. Chrys’s post includes his observations on the changing needs of education in this new century: no longer does one’s education stop at the end of university studies. The pace of change today requires constant learning and retraining, yet the current suite of employee-learning offerings lags behind: at its best, it is represented by lifeless video-on-demand. That’s why Chrys is a champion for Smartup, which has reinvented online learning, starting from the user’s experience. Read more.

Podcasts, videos, and presentations:

On the move:

  • Stephen Curtis (Class 20) is now Director of Business Development – Emerging Technology & Innovation at Eli Lilly & Co. The Emerging Technology & Innovation team works out of Lilly’s external research hub in Cambridge, MA, and complements therapeutic area-specific external research efforts, connecting partners to Lilly expertise and deploying flexible funding models. In addition to traditional business development activities, Steve focuses on Lilly’s venture fund investments, direct equity investments in biotechnology companies, build-to-buy investments, and other shared-risk drug discovery and early development relationships.
  • Life Science Washington, the state’s life sciences trade association, announced last month that Patricia Beckmann (Class 12) has joined their staff as VP of Commercialization, overseeing the organization’s efforts to assist life science researchers, entrepreneurs, and companies bridge the gap between discovery and commercialization. Charlotte Hubbert (Class 14), of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was named to the organization’s board of directors. [Press release]

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 envitonment. 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. 2 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 the place executives in firm’s IT startup portfolio companies as part of the firm’s Market Development Group. This exceptional networker will understand the needs of the firm’s portfolio companies in order to develop the relationship 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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