Network Updates, 7 Apr. 2017
Log into TENx for complete details and RSVP information for all KF events, unless noted.
- April 26, 7pm: Happy Hour at Angel Capital Assn. Summit, San Francisco. RSVP on TENx
- May 4: Bay Area Women Fellows breakfast, San Francisco (email Hana Yang, Class 20)
- May 15: 7-week Venture Deals online course with Brad Feld & Jason Mendelson (free)
- June 23: New York Regional Chapter breakfast
- September 25: New York Regional Chapter breakfast
- December 8: New York Regional Chapter breakfast
- Saed Nashef (Class 14) and Yadin Kaufmann’s (Mentor Class 14) Palestinian venture fund profiled in Reuters
- William McQuillan (Class 21) profiled in Aer Lingus in-flight magazine
- Geoffrey See (Class 21) seeks volunteers to share professional expertise with women entrepreneurs in North Korea
- Watch Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) interview from Professional BusinessWomen Conference
- Dave McClure (Mentor Classes 17 & 18) interviewed on CNBC Africa as Geeks on a Plane wraps up its journey
- Claire England (Class 21) and CTAN highlighted for angel investment increases in 2016
- On the move & special mentions: Kiki Tidwell (Class 15) nominated for C3E award; R.A. Session (Class 19) now at AveXis; Trish Costello (KF Founding CEO) announces Portfolia COO
- Portfolio happenings: Neurotrope BioScience (Susanne Wilke, Class 7) moves to Nasdaq; Evolution Equity Partners (Richard Seewald, Class 16; Karel Obluk, Class 19) invests in LogPoint
- Podcasts & speakers: Fahad Alhussain (Class 17) at Wharton MENA Conference; George Babu (Class 18) at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital conference; Ezra Galston (Class 18) on The Tech in Chicago podcast; Daniel Kraft (Class 13) has 2 new TechNation Radio broadcasts
- This week’s blog selection: Samir Kaji (Class 20) presents survey results on LPs’ views on micro-VC and first-time fund managers. Plus: RAISE summit in San Francisco next month.
- Job opportunities: (CONTINUING) Kapor Capital summer interns
Saed Nashef (Class 14) and Yadin Kaufmann’s (Mentor Class 14) Palestinian Venture Fund Profiled in Reuters
Saed Nashef (Class 14), Yadin Kaufmann (Mentor Class 14) and their fund Sadara Ventures were profiled by Reuters in the article “In West Bank, a Venture Capital Fund Hunts Palestinian Tech Returns.” Like other VCs working in underdeveloped countries, Saed highlights access, exposure, talent scalability, and lack of ecosystem among the obstacles facing entrepreneurs and investors in Palestine. But the territory faces unusual challenges, too: “Palestine is not exactly top-of-mind when people think of tech investment.” Even physical mobility of talent to gain access or exposure to markets and ecosystems is not a given, since Israel limits Palestinian movement into and out of the West Bank and Gaza.
Nonetheless, Saed is confident that Palestinian entrepreneurs have the extra determination and creativity needed to succeed. He cautions that LPs need to be aware of the higher level of risk, and “shouldn’t be looking for the standard VC returns they get in Silicon Valley.” Still, the West Bank ecosystem is growing quickly—in just the last six years, it has seen the rise of 4 PE/VC funds, several accelerators, and 17 venture-backed startups. The key, as always, is to achieve an exit. Saed believes it will happen within five years: “A Palestinian exit, that’s what we’re after. An end-to-end Palestinian story.”
Launched in 2011 with backing from Cisco, the Google Foundation, the European Investment Fund, and others, Ramallah-based Sadara was the first venture capital firm targeting the Palestinian IT sector. Its first fund of $30M is now midway through its projected 10 year investing horizon, but as its 6 portfolio companies have already generated additional investment of $74M, Sadara is considering raising a second fund in the coming months.
William McQuillan (Class 21) Profiled in Aer Lingus In-Flight Magazine
William McQuillan (Class 21), Partner at Frontline Ventures, was profiled in Cara, the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine, as one of six Irish immigrants in London. The profile notes that his first attempt to join the investment world didn’t last long, when Lehman Brothers folded 3 months after he started work there in 2008. But William stayed in London for the opportunities and the people: “It’s this cross-pollination of talent and experiences that the best ideas come from.” He built startup experience along the way, and did whatever was needed to make enough to keep living in London: “I was even giving walking history tours to make sure I could pay the rent!” By age 27 it all led to co-founding Frontline Ventures, which has backed startups such as Verifly, a on-demand drone insurance company, and Love & Robots, which offers personalized jewelry via 3D printing.
Geoffrey See (Class 21) Seeks Volunteers to Share Professional Expertise with Women Entrepreneurs in North Korea
Geoffrey See (Class 21) may qualify as the Kauffman Fellow with the most ambitious mandate. Geoffrey is the Founder of Choson Exchange, an organization that “supports entrepreneurs and business-minded individuals in North Korea through workshops, internships, mentorships, and scholarships inside and outside of the DPRK.” The Choson Exchange has opted to focus on the lives of individual North Koreans, bypassing the international-level controversy, with the belief that “entrepreneurship provides a viable path towards positive change and a healthy civil society in North Korea, as well as a unique opportunity for foreign experts to learn more about a country that remains widely unknown.”
The organization is currently seeking volunteers for its upcoming “Women in Business” program, which runs from June 17-24 in Pyongyang:
Women are a powerful force of innovation in the DPRK, but often have limited access to practical business knowledge. Our WIB programs provide support and advice to female entrepreneurs who are finding creative ways to succeed in a challenging environment. For this trip, we are looking for both female and male volunteers who can share their professional expertise in hands-on workshops about starting, growing, and running a business. Marketing, sales, financial planning, investment, and other related areas of expertise are all going to be valuable for this program.
The Choson Exchange website has an online form for those interested in finding out more.
Watch Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) Interview from Professional BusinessWomen Conference
Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4), co-founder and CEO of Landit, wants to democratize career success. As she explains in a video interview with SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE, her company’s goal is “to increase the success and engagement of women in the workplace, while also enabling companies both to attract and then retain their diverse talent.” Powered by $2M in seed money from NEA, Cue Ball Capital, Xfund, Female Founders Fund, and others, Landit strives to achieve that goal by providing a “turnkey solution” that gives women a personalized playbook for their careers—“one-size-fits-one,” as Lisa says. On the employer side, the firm offers solutions to help them invest in and “path” their female talent.
The problem for women professionals, Lisa says, is that the available career information is overwhelming, which makes it hard to discern what’s relevant and often leaves people stuck at “Where do I start?” The problem for companies that are committed to a diverse workplace is no longer “What do I need to do?”, but “How do I actually do it?” and “How do I know when I’m doing it?” Rather than offering a top-down approach—which can never be personalized—Landit enables companies to give their employees control of their own career pathing as well as enabling companies to quantify employee engagement.
As is stressed in the Kauffman Fellows Program curriculum, Lisa highlights personal branding as a component that accounts for 25% of a person’s success: “Whether you like it or not, you have a brand. The question is, are you in control of it?” She defines personal brand with another question: “What is the authentic message that you signal to the world?” Branding must be cultivated early on in one’s career; mid-career is too late. One key to building a brand, she says, is to track weekly accomplishments so that information needed to define one’s value is already on-hand when the time comes.
Dave McClure (Mentor Classes 17 & 18) Interviewed on CNBC Africa as Geeks on a Plane Wraps Up Its Journey
Dave likened the venture capital space he’s seeing in South Africa to that in LatAm, MENA, and Southeast Asia: “It’s just getting started.” 500 Startups looks for “folks who are very passionate and experienced on the ground” to work with. That passion and experience has to translate quickly into results in order to “generate revenue, hopefully get to break-even very quickly.” Dave says that their focus isn’t on finding the next Facebook or Snapchat, but on “things that generate real revenue and solve real problems … that are relevant for people in this market”—e-commerce, marketplaces, FinTech, healthcare, and travel. As seen across less-developed markets, Dave expects that most successful exits will be acquisitions, with only a small percentage resulting in IPOs.
The Geeks on a Plane itinerary in Johannesburg includes one-on-one meetings with specialists in the city’s FinTech, InsurTech, and banking communities, and wraps up in Cape Town—the “Silicon Cape”—which boasts more startups and VC activity than anywhere else in South Africa.
Claire England (Class 21) and CTAN Highlighted for Angel Investment Increases in 2016
The Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), led by Claire England (Class 21), was featured in the Austin Business Journal this week as it announced statistics for the group’s 2016 investments. CTAN invested a total of $14.2M in 43 companies last year (15 new; 28 follow-on), versus $13.5M in 2015. More impressive is that the size of the average investment in new companies was $676K last year—nearly double that of 2015. The number of CTAN angels investing in startups also showed a dramatic increase over the prior year, with a 40% rise in participation. Last year brought 7 exits, for a total of 23 exits since the group’s inception in 2006. As we reported last month, CTAN has made enormous strides in increasing the number of women and minority investors in its ranks over the last several years. [Austin Business Journal story; requires login]
On the move and special mentions:
- Kiki Tidwell (Class 15) has been nominated for a 2017 C3E Award in the Advocacy category. “The U.S. C3E Awards recognize outstanding mid-career women who are advancing clean, renewable sources of energy, related technologies, or clean energy policy.” The Clean Energy Education & Empowerment (C3E) women’s initiative was launched in 2010 at the international Clean Energy Ministerial to “advance women’s participation in the clean energy revolution.” The motivation for its founding was “a shared sense that the ideas and talents of all members of society are essential to accelerating progress toward a clean energy future,” and one of its goals is to “shift the status quo in the clean energy professions and enable greater gender diversity.” Congratulations, Kiki!
- R.A. Session (Class 19) recently joined AveXis, a firm committed to moving gene therapies into the clinical setting for patients with rare and orphan neurological genetic diseases. He is SVP and Head of Corporate Strategy, and also responsible for business development and alliance and project management.
- Trish Costello (KF Founding CEO), CEO of Portfolia, reports that she has brought on Amber Caska as co-founder, President, and COO. Amber previously served as CFO, Investments for 4 years as CFO of Alphabet chair Eric Schmidt’s family office; before that she was treasurer of the family office of Microsoft founder Paul Allen. Amber herself was an investor through Portfolia, an angel-backed entrepreneurial investment platform designed for women, and was inspired by how the firm’s model could activate women’s investment dollars. [Press release]
- After its stock more than doubled in the first three months of 2017 Susanne Wilke’s (Class 7) Neurotrope BioScience made the elusive move from the OTC market to the Nasdaq last week (NTRP). The company’s flagship drug, bryostatin-1, has shown promise in helping “reactivate synaptic networks” in Alzheimer’s patients. The firm plans to announce top-line efficacy results from its randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 2 trial this month. Susanne believes bryostatin-1’s mechanism applies not just to Alzheimer’s but to “neurodegenerative diseases in general,” listing Fragile X Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, stroke, Parkinson’s, and even depression as possibilities. [Benzinga article] [Press release]
- Evolution Equity Partners (Richard Seewald, Class 16; Karel Obluk, Class 19) led the recent $10M Series B funding for Copenhagen, Denmark-based LogPoint, a next-generation security information, event management (SIEM) and Big Data analytics platform. Richard says of the firm, “We believe the attributes of the LogPoint SIEM-platform are unique and provide the company with cutting-edge advantage in the global marketplace. The flexibility of the platform, simplicity of the design, the sophistication of the analytics capabilities, and the compelling business and licensing model provide an attractive value proposition.” Both Richard and Karel will join the LogPoint board of directors. [Press release]
Podcasts & speakers:
- Fahad Alhussain (Class 17) was a speaker at the Wharton MENA Conference, “Region Under Transformation: The Future of MENA.” Fahad was on a panel called “The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in a Tumultuous Middle East,“ examining where the real entrepreneurial opportunities are in the region today, and how startups can best overcome hurdles such as hostile regulatory environments, political instability, and difficulty in getting funding.
- George Babu (Class 18) presented “How a Human-Machine Mind Meld Could Make Robots Smarter” at the EmTech Digital conference, discussing the application of machine learning to activities that require both physical and mental involvement, with a focus on e-commerce warehouses. His company, Kindred.ai, is developing a machine-learning robot with remote human oversight to provide what humans are best at—judgement.
- The Tech in Chicago podcast “From Professional Poker Player to Chicago’s Fastest Rising VC – Ezra Galston [Class 18] / Chicago Ventures” discusses how Ezra got into angel investing, and why he prefers growing a business to starting one. The interview goes on to cover Ezra’s thoughts on the Chicago startup ecosystem, what he looks for in entrepreneurs, his ideas about finding mentors, and more.
- Daniel Kraft (Class 13) has several new episodes in his regularly scheduled slot on NPR’s TechNation radio show.
March 22: “The Future of Neuoscience and Neuromedicine”
March 7: “The Future of Cancer—Its Prevention, Early Detection, and Emergent Treatments”
This week’s blog selection:
In a post titled “What Do LPs Think about Micro-VC?” Samir Kaji (Class 20) presents in-depth survey results from 50 LPs who allocate funds to VC, intended to assess how their attitudes toward micro-VC have shifted in the last year. Overall, these LPs are much more open to new micro-VC funds and first-time fund managers, as well as solo GP funds. Read Samir’s full analysis, including a breakdown by location and sector.
Samir’s post was prompted by the upcoming RAISE summit in San Francisco, which is taking place on May 10. RAISE is an invite-only, one-day event designed to foster venture fund entrepreneurship. Kauffman Fellows Trae Vassallo (Class 10), Trey Hart (Class 20), and Courtney Russell McCrea (Class 3) will be speakers at the conference. Interested LPs (institutional investors, family offices, and other investing entities) and emerging fund managers can request an invite through the conference website.
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.
- Kapor Capital (Mitch Kapor, Mentor Class 21; Brian Dixon, Class 21) is hiring 4 summer associates. The ideal candidate will be entering an MBA, PhD, or comparable graduate program in Fall 2017 (or, alternatively, going into their 2nd or 3rd year of graduate studies); applicants must have a passion for tech startups. The Round 1 application deadline was March 17; the Round 2 deadline is April 17. Read the full job description and apply on the Kapor Capital website.
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