< Return to Society News Updates

Society News Update, 22 Sept. 2016

KF logo



Phil Wickham (Charter Class) to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at October Summit

Phil WickhamIf you are planning on attending the upcoming Kauffman Fellows Reunion VC Summit in Kansas City (October 23-25), be sure to arrive in time for Sunday’s opening dinner event at Union Station. Phil Wickham (Charter Class) will be receiving the very first Kauffman Fellows Lifetime Achievement Award.

Register now for the Summit if you haven’t already (code: KFReunion)!

Heads Up! Nominations for Class 22 Open on October 1

Are there people in your professional network with whom you have enjoyed doing a deal or serving on a board, or who have created an impact in your community? Consider nominating them for Kauffman Fellows Class 22. We are seeking candidates who are both exceptional investors and exceptional people. Stay tuned for more details.

Jen Fonstad (Class 3) Argues for the Competitive Advantage of Diversity

TechCrunch LogoJennifer Fonstad (Class 3) wrote an article in TechCrunch this week: “The Competitive Advantage of Diversity.” Drawing on Michael Porter’s theories of relative competitive advantages among businesses, Jen argues that lack of diversity in companies today has become a liability, “costing companies talent, consumer goodwill and real money.” She believes that we will soon see Porter’s competitive dynamics in the real-world employment market, and firms that can effectively capitalize on diversity will win and those that do not will lose. Diversity’s real benefits to the corporation include broader, more beneficial networks; the right mix of leadership skills at the right time; and better insights into an increasingly diverse customer base. Read the full article.

Save $1,000 on Exponential Medicine Conference, October 8-11, San Diego, CA

Exponential MedicineDaniel Kraft (Class 13) is founder and chair of Exponential Medicine, an annual conference exploring the convergence of technology and healthcare’s future. The conference runs October 8-11th at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. Kauffman Fellows Society members can skip the application process and register directly with with this link and the code VIPKraft for $1,000 off the registration fee. Life sciences startups can apply to be part of the Innovation Lab (Oct. 9-10) at the conference, where they will have the opportunity to highlight their innovations with hands-on demonstrations to 500+ healthcare leaders.

Ramphis Castro

Ramphis Castro (Class 19) was this week’s guest on the John Livesay podcast, “How to Get Seed Money for Free.” In this in-depth interview, Ramphis talks about the entrepreneurial potential of Cuba and Puerto Rico, how he came to be a Kauffman Fellow, and the Founder Institute, an Silicon Valley-based accelerator and startup launch program where he serves as Managing Director. He also discusses the direction of Mindchemy, an organization dedicated to cultivating startup ecosystems.


Kauffman Fellows Society Members as TechCrunch Disrupt SF Judges

Kauffman Fellows Santi Subotovsky (Class 15) and Brian Dixon (Class 21), as well as Mentor Louie Alsop (Class 17), were judges at TechCrunch Disrupt SF’s Startup Battlefield last week. Twenty-five startups began the competition, and our judges helped narrow down the group to the six finalists who went to the finale demo. The winner was Mobalytics, a coach for competitive gamers that helps them uncover their weaknesses and make adjustments for future success in the promising e-sports market (who knew?). Check out the conference highlights.

Nino Marakovic (Mentor Class 13) and Sapphire Ventures Close $1B Fund

Sapphire Ventures announced last week the close of $1 billion in new capital commitments. Sapphire CEO and Managing Director Nino Marakovic (Mentor Class 13) commented, “In today’s rapidly changing marketplace, high-growth startups need the support of experienced, focused and deep-pocketed investors in order to stay competitive. Sapphire is better poised than ever to be this kind of partner for our portfolio companies.” Sapphire is an independent firm that was formerly SAP Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of SAP. Although it has been a stand-alone firm since 2011, SAP remains its only investor.

Sapphire invests directly into startups as a traditional venture capital firm; it also invests into other venture funds as a limited partner. In this latter role, Sapphire has sought to re-invent the role of LP, stepping back and asking what more can LPs can bring to the table, as they explain in their latest blog post. In reporting on the new $1B commitment, the New York Times noted that six other firms have also raised $1+B funds this year (Andreesen, KPCB, Founders Fund, Technology Crossover Ventures, Accel, and Norwest), and that in the US, venture firms raised more in the first 6 months of 2016 than in all of 2015.

Vinnie Lauria (Class 17) Authored Forbes Article on the Landscape for Startups Acquired by SEA Conglomerates

Forbes logoIn Southeast Asia, IPO opportunities are few and far between; the more likely exit strategy for startups is to be acquired—often by large, foreign companies. Vinnie Lauria (Class 17), founder of Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures, wrote a Forbes article, “When Asian Tigers Pounce: What Happens After The Acquisition?” GGV performed an extensive review of all acquisitions by each of three large Asian conglomerates—Rakuten (Japan), Tencent, and Alibaba (both China)—since 2010 to see what happened to the startups after they were purchased. Tencent and Rakuten tended to preserve more autonomy in their acquisitions, while Alibaba tended to “absorb” the companies that it fully acquires. Read the full story.

Listen to Joe Floyd (Class 19) in a Veni Vidi VC Podcast

Joe Floyd (Class 18) was the guest on Episode 4 of Veni Vidi VC: “candid conversations with the most interesting personalities of the Venture Capital world.” The interview discusses Joe’s path to his current role at Emergence Capital Partners. Joe started college as an engineer, but switched to finance when the dot-com bubble burst—and brought his software background with him to his investing role. When he was looking to break into VC, before each coffee chat he prepared a thesis about an industry sector of interest to the firm he was meeting with, and found 3 startups he could talk about with them.  He also talks about differentiating himself within the firm once he was hired.

Job Opportunities

Two job opportunities have been sent in by fellows; see below for details:

  • Braemar Energy Ventures is hiring an Associate in New York. Braemar is one of the leading partnerships focused on next-generation energy technology, and runs a balanced portfolio with an emphasis on early- to mid-stage opportunities. Preferred background includes technology and engineering experience relevant to energy or the industrial technology sector, along with solid investment banking or strategy consulting training. Read the full job description (PDF). Contact Jiong Ma (Class 9) for more information.
  • Bullpen Capital is hiring an Analyst for its Fund III in San Francisco. Bullpen is interested in hearing from a broad range of candidates, including those from non-traditional backgrounds. “Bullpen Capital is the leader in post-seed funding, a category we created. We lead small rounds in non-obvious companies.” Read their blog post about the job description, or contact Eric Wiesen (Class 13) if you want to know what working at Bullpen is all about.
  • BECO Capital in Dubai is looking for a Talent Manager to work with its portfolio companies, teaching them hiring methods, refining retention strategies, and developing playbooks and best practices, while at the same time acting as a mentor and advisor. Read a detailed job description (PDF). Contact Youef Hammad (Class 21) for more information.
  • The Kauffman Foundation is looking for a Director of Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Director. Reporting to Victor Hwang (Class 12), the Vice President of Entrepreneurship, this person will lead the design and implementation of the Foundation’s research and policy strategy, identifying knowledge gaps that must be closed in order to advance entrepreneurship while placing special emphasis on actionable and practical research. Read the full job description, including application instructions.
  • Matter Ventures recently expanded to NYC and Corey Ford (Class 17) tells us that he is building a new team there. He is hiring a NYC-based Associate who, in collaboration with another NYC Associate and two existing SF Associates, will be responsible for running the NYC accelerator program and NYC investment deal flow. This person needs to be able to lead the NYC office, teach and coach early-stage media entrepreneurs, reinforce Matter’s design thinking-based culture and practices, source and evaluate investments, and help build Matter’s NYC ecosystem. (In the near future, Corey will be hiring two additional NYC Associates and one SF Associate). Contact Corey for more information, and read his blog post for the full job description.
  • Gareth Keane (Class 15) let us know that Deutsche Telecom Capital Partners, Deutsche Telekom’s investment management group, is looking for a VC Associate in its Menlo Park, California (Sand Hill Road) location. Specifically, it is looking for a post-MBA associate to join its new location to support its investment partners. Responsibilities will include market research, due diligence, and analysis and modeling. Applicants should have 1-2 years of investment experience. Read the full job description (PDF); for additional information, contact Gareth.

New Portfolio Investments

  • Alex Baker (Class 13) and his firm, Relay Ventures, led the latest $10M round of funding in Canadian smart-apparel maker OMsignal. OMsignal simultaneously announced the official release of its flagship wearable product, the OMbra, a sports bra designed for women runners with embedded sensors that connects to a mobile app, OMrun. Alex says, “OMsignal brings together a dynamic combination of IoT, mobile technology and fashion know-how, along with an experienced team of professionals.” OMsignal founder Stefane Marceau said in a BetaKit article, “No matter what smartwatch makers want you to believe, your lungs and heart are not on your wrist. Physiologically, if you’re serious about having insights on your body, you need to be where action happens on the core of the body.”  [Press release]
  • Miriam Rivera (Class 15) and her firm, Ulu Ventures, joined in the latest $9M funding found for Ellevest, “a digital investment platform focusing exclusively on women.” Ellevest, a robo-advisor similar to Wealthfront, uses algorithms geared toward women investors, taking into account factors such as women’s longer investing time horizons (about 5 years longer than men). Other prominent investors include the tennis player Venus Williams, who has led the fight for equal pay among male and female players. Read the Fortune article, “Exclusive: Why Venus Williams and Mellody Hobson Are Investing in This Fintech Startup.”

This Week’s Blog: Carpool.vc

Watch the latest installment of Carpool.vc, a video blog in which Jonathon Triest (Class 19) and his co-worker at Ludlow Ventures, Brett deMarrais, have telephone interviews with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs during their morning commute in Detroit. In this installment, they interview Pat Kinsel, CEO of Notarize.com.

Back to top