Society News Update, 17 Nov. 2016

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Victor Hwang (Class 12) & Phil Wickham (Charter) on the Road for Global Entrepreneurship Week

EShipCityAs part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 14-20), Victor Hwang (Class 12) and Phil Wickham (Charter Class) have taken to the highways of the American Midwest to talk with entrepreneurs about the challenges—and opportunities—in their local ecosystems; their journey is called EShipCity: On the Road. Victor is Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, which leads the way in many of these initiatives. Victor says, “There’s this renewal happening throughout the heartland. You see entrepreneurs bursting in Kansas City. You see it throughout this whole region—this invisible energy, this spark that makes America so wonderful—this deep resilience and this sense that ‘Well, we can work it out. We can work with our friends, our colleagues, and our community members to find solutions to problems.’” Victor and Phil in front of Warren Buffett's HouseVictor and Phil’s journeys will take them to Omaha, Cedar Rapids, Peoria, and St. Louis. Watch their introductory video as well as their video dispatches from Omaha, Cedar Rapids, and Peoria on the EShipCity website. At right, the duo made a side trip while in Omaha to have their photo taken in front of Warren Buffett’s house.

In his accompanying CNBC article, “These Midwest Towns Are Starting to Rival Silicon Valley,” Victor talks more about the importance of grassroots-level entrepreneurial ecosystem improvements in addressing an economy that was starkly reflected in the recent US election results. Victor notes that the Midwest is well-suited to fostering innovation ecosystems given its natural resources, manufacturing history, and lower cost of living, among other features—but he believes “the key to strong entrepreneurial ecosystems is … the willingness of communities to create their own entrepreneurial cultures by connecting existing ingredients to form environments that spawn businesses in new and unexpected ways.“ Read the full story.

1 in a Million Competition Judged by All-Fellows Panel

1 in a MillionThe 2016 1 in a Million Competition drew to a close yesterday, and Charlotte Hubbert (Class 14), Marlon Nichols (Class 18), Guy Turner (Class 17), Alice Chen (Class 19), and Jorge Torres (Class 16) had the difficult task of selecting a winner from the group of five finalists. We’re honored and proud that this year’s judges panel is made up entirely of Kauffman Fellows!

The 1 in a Million competition is an entirely virtual event sponsored by Kauffman Foundation’s 1 Million Cups program, which fosters community-centered entrepreneurial education and networking by facilitating meet-ups and pitch sessions where local entrepreneurs can provide feedback to one another. The 1 in a Million winner receives a trophy, a $25,000 prize, expenses-paid trips to several entrepreneurship conferences, and “bragging rights for the year.” Check out this year’s finalist and winner videos (near the bottom of the page).

Zaid Ashai (Class 13) and Nexamp Announce 2.4MW Community Solar Installation

NexampNexamp and CEO Zaid Ashai (Class 13) announced this week the completion of a 2.4 MW community solar project in Hadley, MA. While firms like Solar City build and operate homeowner-rooftop installations, Nexamp builds community-sized installations with electricity sold to many users in a geographic location. Nexamp’s new array is located on privately held land, but agreements between Nexamp and two nearby towns will ensure long-term benefits for many stakeholders. According Zaid, “This project epitomizes the immense potential of thoughtful energy policy in the Commonwealth. Sited on a relatively small portion of the farm’s hay fields, the solar project will not only help sustain ongoing operations at the farm, but will also provide significant direct benefits to the surrounding community.”

Consuelo Valverde (Class 19), Miriam Rivera (Class 15), and Francisco Coronel (Class 20) Spoke at the WeXchange Conference in Buenos Aires

WeXchangeWeXchange is a platform that connects high-growth women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean with investors and mentors. This year’s conference was focused on women entrepreneurs in STEM, and included networking, mentoring, a pitch competition, and panel discussions. Consuelo Valverde (Class 19) and Miriam Rivera (Class 15) were on a panel together at the Argentina event: “Are Investors Looking for #womenSTEMpreneurs?” Consuelo also participated in a mentoring session for entrepreneurs on fundraising and investors. NXTP Labs was a major sponsor of the event, with Francisco Coronel (Class 20) representing the firm (among others), leading a mentoring session on financial structures.

At WeXchange’s first conference in 2014, the organization established the Manifesto of Women Entrepreneurs of Latin America and the Caribbean, and invites signatories; there is an English translation button in the upper-right of the screen. [Related: see below to learn more about Kapor Capital’s new Founders Commitment.]

Congratulations to Kauffman Fellows 2016 Honorees

Deloitte Technology Fast 500Jen Fonstad (Class 3) was named the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Venture Capitalist of the Year, according to The Broadsheet. Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 is an annual ranking of the fastest-growing technology firms, based on their prior 3 years of performance. The organization notes in the accompanying press release that 68% of all firms on the list received venture funding, with 8 of the top 10 firms doing so. Jen is the first woman ever to earn this honor. Congratulations!

Inc.Inc. named its list of the 15 “Most Impressive Women Entrepreneurs of 2016.” This group, explains Inc., is comprised of “women changing everything about how people generate energy, invest, and care for their health.” Congratulations to Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4), founder of Landit, and Trish Costello (Kauffman Fellows Founding CEO), founder of Portfolia. Landit offers a personalized “playbook” for women seeking to move their careers forward, including access to opportunities, coaching, and resources. Portfolia creates investment funds customized for women, and offers training and coaching for those who want to learn more and step up to the next level of investing.

AVCJShailendra Singh (Class 11), Sequoia Capital India, named “VC Professional of the Year” at the Asian Private Equity and Venture Capital Awards, given by the AVCJ. The award honors the year’s leading Asian-based investor; considerations include financial returns as well as “evidence of nurturing young companies, understanding emerging technologies and business models, an ability to work with and foster entrepreneurs, effective deal sourcing, proper due diligence, alignment of interests, preparations for post-investment value add, and a general commitment to the region’s industrial and technological development.” Winners were chosen by a 50% weighting of AVCJ subscriber votes, and 25% each for the editorial board and a judges panel.

Impact Venture Capital in the News: Dixon Doll (Mentor Class 15), Eric Ball (Class 16), and Jack Crawford (Class 16) Host Impact Summit, Announce Investment

Impact Venture CapitalImpact Venture Capital, recently formed by partners Dixon Doll (Mentor Class 15), Eric Ball (Class 16), and Jack Crawford (Class 16), just completed their first Impact Global Venture Summit in Sacramento, CA earlier this week. The day started with an open-floor tradeshow, followed by a demo-day pitch event with 20 startups and 100+ angels, VCs, and CVCs in attendance. The evening portion of the event featured keynotes by Dixon and Eric, followed by a panel discussion, “From Idea to Successful Exit.” Check out photos and videos of the summit on Impact’s Facebook page.

The firm also announced this week a new investment in Nightingale Security. Nightingale designs and deploys drone-based security systems, offering reduced cost and increased capabilities compared to traditional security measures. “Nightingale is a perfect example of a tech startup using new technologies in innovative ways to solve global challenges,” says Eric. [Press release]

Read Eric’s and Dixon’s discussion of the firm’s exclusive focus on early-stage firms, their emphasis on firms that “cut across multiple consumer verticals,” and their take on the early-stage investing landscape at the close of 2016 in this TechCrunch article.

Kapor Capital Announces “Founders Commitment” on Diversity

Kapor CapitalThis week, Kapor Capital announced an addition to its investment agreement with all new portfolio companies: the Founders Commitment, in which firms demonstrate a commitment to diversity from their beginnings. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “The pledge does not include hiring quotas. Instead it requires companies that seek Kapor’s investment to codify diversity goals and regularly report their progress.” [Companies already in their portfolio may opt into the pledge.] Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact are run by Freada Kapor Klein, who spoke at the Kauffman Fellows Summit in Kansas City last month, and Mitch Kapor (Mentor Class 21).

Explaining their focus on diversity in startups, Freada says, “We’ve seen how difficult it is for the big tech companies to try to retrofit diversity and inclusion. Baking diversity and inclusion into a company’s culture early can provide the foundation to build a much more representative workforce in later stages of growth.”

The Founders Commitment:

  • Establish diversity and inclusion goals that are appropriate for the company’s funding stage, employee size, customer base, and core business. [Firms must include progress reports on those goals in quarterly updates to investors.]
  • Invest in tools, training programs, and/or resources that assist with mitigating bias in recruiting, hiring, and employment.
  • Organize volunteer opportunities for employees to engage with underrepresented communities, especially those that reflect the company’s customer base.
  • Participate in diversity and inclusion sessions to learn about what works and what doesn’t.

Read the full story. [See above for the Manifesto of Women Entrepreneurs of Latin America and the Caribbean.]

Portfolio & Board Announcements

Congratulations to Jason Green (Charter Class) and Emergence Capital Partners on the birth of a unicorn! TechCrunch announced this week that GE Digital is buying Emergence portfolio company ServiceMax for $915 million. According to Crunchbase, Emergence was one of two investors in the firm’s Series A, and is the only firm to have invested in every funding round, A through F.

Kevin Lockett (Class 21) has joined Intrust Bank’s board of directors, according to the Wichita Eagle. “His extensive experience in business leadership, finance, and entrepreneurial stimulation will prove beneficial to our company,” says Charles Q. Chandler IV, Intrust’s chairman and CEO. Intrust Bank is the largest independent bank in Kansas. Congratulations, Kevin!

This Week’s Blog Selections

This week we have several blog posts to share across the spectrum, from the startup CEO view to the international effects of the US election to advice for startup founder pitches.

  • Jennifer Fried (Class 20), recently started a blog for ExplORer Surgical, where she is CEO. This week she co-authored a post detailing the need for improved efficiency and coordination during the surgical process. Until now, effective clinical and financial improvements have focused on the pre- and post-operative periods, with minimal attention paid to the operation itself—even though surgery is the source of a majority of a hospital’s revenue. This introductory post sets forth a number of “efficiency plays” that can be made with ExplORer Surgical’s interactive application, designed to increase efficiency and teamwork in the OR.
  • Gil Dibner (Class 13), penned “Election Thoughts from an American VC Abroad.“ Politics aside, Gil offers his take on what the election of Donald Trump might mean for startups based outside the US that are targeting the US market.
  • Carl Fritjofsson (Class 21) and Lylan Masterman (Class 20) each have advice for startup pitch-ers, encouraging those seeking funding to take a realistic look at certain aspects of their pitch decks. In a Business Insider article, Lylan discusses the “competitive analysis” graphic, and instructs startups to use variables for the x- and y-axes that really are their most important differentiators, not just the variables that put their firm in the upper-right quadrant (where they “should” be). Carl wrote a essay titled “Your Market Size Is Only a Fraction of What You Think It Is,” offering several different ways to calculate the total addressable market (TAM) for a product, and warning founders to avoid using the size of the parent, or overarching market, surrounding their product niche.

Job Opportunities

Several job opportunities have been sent in by Fellows; see below for details. Jobs are removed from this list after 4 weeks. Browse back-issues of Society News if you’re looking for an older job post. If you are a Fellow or Mentor and would like to re-post your job, please email us.

  • Shell Technology Ventures, Shell’s corporate venture capital arm is hiring a Senior Venture Principal (a role equivalent to Partner at a mainstream VC firm) in its new San Francisco office. In addition to deal-flow activities, this person will mentor colleagues, position the firm as a go-to investor for energy and mobility startups, and act as an ambassador to the Silicon Valley ecosystem. 10+ years of venture experience is required, with a focus on software, energy, transportation, or cleantech, as well as experience with all aspects of venture capital from due diligence to deal structuring, negotiations, and post-close deal management. Read the full job description. Questions? Contact Bennett Cohen (Class 20).
  •, Matter, and 500 Startups portfolio company NewsWhip is hiring a Chief Revenue Officer in New York. NewsWhip is a market-leading content intelligence company powering a suite of SaaS applications for media corporations, publishers, global brands, and agencies. The CRO will head up a team of 17 sales and marketing professionals with alumni from Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Comscore, ScribbleLive, Critical Mention, StubHub, and others, and grow it to more than 50 over the next 2 years. This person will oversee and structure sales, customer success (account management), and marketing, and will have previously led rapid revenue growth in a SaaS or media technology business, from $5m to $20m ARR or beyond. Full job description. For more information, Contact Conor Stanley (Class 17).
  • Silas Capital portfolio company Lifefactory is looking for a Senior VP of Operations. Based in Sausalito, CA, Lifefactory is “the pioneer and leader in glass hydration,” best known for their iconic glass water bottles, now sold in over 30 countries. The VP of Operations is responsible for day-to-day oversight, execution, and coordination of U.S. and international components suppliers, manufacturing schedule, quality control, and logistics. Minimum 10 years of work experience, with at least 4 as an executive in the wholesale consumer products sector, is required. View the full job description and how to apply on LinkedIn.
  • Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the largest and most active early-stage technology venture investor in Canada, is seeking an experienced investment professional to lead the fund-of-funds and co-investment activities. Candidates must have at least 10 years of fund and co-investing experience in the PE/VC asset classes, and experience in a managerial capacity with an institution undertaking indirect investments. Ability to communicate in both English and French is an asset. This Vice President position is also responsible for seeding and growing emerging top-tier general partners as well as supporting existing top-quartile Canadian GPs. Read the full job description. Questions? Contact Ela Borenstein (Class 17).

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