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Society News Update, 8 Dec. 2016

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  • Slush 2016 conference featured numerous Fellows and Mentors in Helsinki, Finland
  • Listen to Daniel Kraft’s (Class 13) podcast on medical technology and innovation
  • Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) and her firm LandIt profiled in Forbes
  • Congratulations to Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21) and StartX Fund, the most active AI investor of 2016
  • Origins podcast by Notation Capital interviews Brad Feld (KF board member)
  • Business Standard interviews Shailendra Singh (Class 11) on Sequoia Capital India’s investment outlook
  • Listen to Marlon Nichols (Class 18) on the “Building the Future” Atlanta radio show
  • Fellows & Mentors on the Move: Andrew Williamson (Class 14) • Gil Canaani (Class 17) • Jo Taylor (Mentor Class 10)
  • Portfolio happenings: Wind Point Partners sells Novolex to Carlyle Group (Alex Washington, Class 6) • Avid Larizadeh Duggan (Class 11) likely to join board of Schroders • Ascension Ventures closes $255M fund (John Kuelper, Class 19)
  • Job openings: Is your firm or portfolio company looking for just the right person to fill some big shoes? Email us the pertinent information and we’ll be happy to announce it here in the monthly eBulletin and also in the weekly Society News Update (jobs are listed for 4 weeks unless otherwise requested).
  • This week’s blog selection: Abdulaziz Alhargan (Class 16), writing from Saudi Arabia, discusses the need for local entrepreneurial solutions, not cookie-cutter attempts at replicating Silicon Valley

Slush 2016 Conference Featured Numerous Fellows and Mentors in Helsinki, Finland

Slush 2016The 2016 Slush conference that just concluded in Helsinki, Finland could have been dubbed a mini-Kauffman reunion. Slush is a student-driven, nonprofit movement whose goal is to facilitate founder–investor meetings and build a worldwide startup community. The event spans 2 days with speakers on 4 stages, in addition to side events. Last year it drew over 15,000 people, including 1,700 early-stage startups and 800+ registered investors.

Talks from the event are online for viewing now. Check out the KF roster:

Johan Brenner (Mentor Classes 16 & 21, Creandum) was also a speaker at the event.

Listen to Daniel Kraft’s (Class 13) Podcast on Medical Technology and Innovation

podcast iconDaniel Kraft (Class 13) has been on the air several times in the last few weeks. A preview of his December interview is live on the Digital Health Maven Project website. In this interview excerpt, Daniel talks about the importance of keeping an eye on the individuals who participate in the flow of biomedical innovations—from hospital administrators and medical staff to patients and families. “You can go to the operating room thinking that you have a new solution, but the nurse may never use it. … Sometimes the technology’s great but the culture won’t allow it to thrive. It all comes down to that individual—the physician, the patient, the families, and the impact, and creating solutions that keep all that in mind.”

Daniel has been tapped to be a judge for and co-emcee of the Impact Pediatric Health pitch competition at next year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) conference. [Press release]

Lisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) and Her firm LandIt Profiled in Forbes

Landit logoLisa Skeete Tatum (Class 4) was interviewed in Forbes with the question, “Is LandIt the New LinkedIn for Women?” Lisa co-founded Landit in 2014 to offer a personalized “playbook” for women seeking to move their careers forward, including access to opportunities, coaching, career connections, and resources. The interview discusses how she came to found the firm, her path to venture capital, her ideas for increasing diversity, and her advice to women starting a business as well as entrepreneurs putting together their VC pitch.

On this last point, Lisa adds, “I also know the importance of seeking and receiving candid feedback. Many VCs won’t share it and many companies are not receptive to it. However, if you are fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of that gift, take it and iterate so you will be in a stronger position going forward.” Read the full interview.

Congratulations to Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21) and StartX Fund, the most active AI investor of 2016

StartX FundSilicon Valley Business Journal reported Stanford’s StartX Fund in a 3-way tie for first place as the most active AI investor of 2016, with a special shout-out to Suzanne Fletcher (Class 21). The other top finishers were NEA and Accel, based on PitchBook Data. Suzanne remarked, “I’m not really surprised that we are among the most active in investments in these areas. This tech is so promising and it’s something that many of the founders and alumni are working on when we interview for them to be part of StartX. We are the beneficiaries of this amazing technology coming out of Stanford.”

As we reported in the November eBulletin, all StartX accelerator companies can opt-in to the StartX Fund, which will contribute 10% to all rounds over $500K. Startup founders may tap into the fund for all series levels, not just seed-stage.

Origins Podcast by Notation Capital Interviews Brad Feld (KF board member)

Origins PodcastIn a recent Origins podcast from Notation Capital, Brad Feld (Kauffman Fellows board member) candidly discusses his storied career in venture capital at length, and reveals the origins of his investing philosophy. Speaking of his early adventures, Brad says that he invested small amounts in funds that allowed him to support the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and “have more of an emotional–economic connection to the startup community, because [he] had tiny investments in lots of companies.”

Over time, he says, this sense of connection and relationship influenced the philosophy of firms such as Foundry Group and TechStars: “Put energy into a system without having a transactional relationship defined—you don’t know what’s going to come back. It’s not altruism; you expect to get something back. You just don’t know when, from whom, in what form, and what magnitude.” Listen to the full interview.

Business Standard interviews Shailendra Singh (Class 11) on Sequoia Capital India’s investment outlook

Business StandardShailendra Singh (Class 11) was interviewed in the Business Standard about Sequoia Capital India, where he is Managing Director. Shailendra discusses his outlook on the Indian investment landscape, and how 2016 came back down-to-earth from the previous year: “Certainly, 2015 was an unusual year. Much of 2016 was about re-setting of expectations on valuations, salaries, growth rates, and operating costs inside companies. The start-up ecosystem in India is better off for it, and looks much healthier today than it did same time last year.” He notes that as Sequoia’s older portfolio companies mature—they’ve had 3 IPOs this year, filings for 2 more, plus private sales—the firm will distribute more funds than it invests each year. [Full story]

Listen to Marlon Nichols (Class 18) on the “Building the Future” Atlanta radio show

Building The FutureMarlon Nichols (Class 18) was interviewed on the Atlanta radio show, “Building the Future.” The program begins with Marlon’s path to his current role at Cross Culture Ventures. He recounted that being in the Kauffman Fellows Program “was a real eye-opening experience,” one which caused him to look around at his classmates and ask himself, “Why am I not branching out on my own? Why am I not looking to pursue my dream? What am I waiting for?” Marlon was working at Intel Capital at the time, and shortly thereafter led the firm’s diversity fund, which also got him thinking: “What is it about diversity that drives greater success for companies and programs? … Diversity is based on culture.” This path led to Cross Culture Ventures; his investing focus now is on culture—from a global perspective—rather than simply on diversity for its own sake. The firm examines culture to “determine how consumers are going to behave in the future and where they’re going to spend money.” Listen to the podcast.

Fellows on the Move

  • Andrew Williamson (Class 14) is now an Investment Director at Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), which invests in university spin-outs from Cambridge University and the surrounding region. Victor Christou, CIC’s CEO, says, “[Andrew] brings a perfect combination of the ideal attributes for a CIC Investment Director with hands-on experience building deep technology businesses, coupled with a venture investing background and an understanding of Cambridge and its academic institutes. Taken together, these position him ideally for a role investing in the most exciting cluster in Europe.” Andrew earned his MA and PhD degrees at Cambridge. [Press release]
  • Gil Canaani (Class 17) has moved from 2B Angels to Hearst Ventures, where he is General Manager of Hearst Ventures Israel, leading the firm’s investments in the country. He continues to be based in Tel-Aviv. Hearst Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of the Hearst media and publishing company.
  • Congratulations to Jo Taylor (Mentor Class 10), who has been promoted to Managing Director – International at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Jo joined the fund in 2012; he heads the London, UK office, and until now was responsible for the firm’s Europe, MENA, and Africa operations. With his new appointment, he will also oversee Hong Kong operations and will split his time between London and Hong Kong. [Press release]

Portfolio Happenings

  • Alex Washington (Class 6) and his firm, Wind Point Partners, have sold portfolio company Novolex to the Carlyle Group. Novolex produces sustainable plastic packaging and operates plastic recycling facilities. Alex commented on the transition: “Since we acquired Novolex in 2012, together we have achieved our value creation plan … by growing revenue from $500 million to over $2.0 billion and increasing profitability. … This has been a great partnership.” [Press release]
  • Britain’s Sky News reports that Avid Larizadeh Duggan (Class 11), a General Partner at GV (Google Ventures), will likely join the board of asset manager Schroders. According to the report, the firm “‎has been under pressure to strengthen its board after a revolt among external investors in April,” following its naming of Michael Dobson as Chairman. The firm will look to Avid for her technology industry knowledge to round out the board.
  • Congratulations to John Kuelper (Class 19) and Ascension Ventures (AV), which announced the close of its 4th fund at $255M, bringing total assets under management to $800M. Ascension Ventures is the corporate venture capital arm of Ascension, the largest nonprofit and Catholic health system in the US. AV invests in startups in the healthcare IT, healthcare services, and medical device sectors. [Press release]

This week’s blog selection:

Abdulaziz Alhargan (Class 16) has written “Saudi Arabia Needs Specialized Programs for Developing Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Distinct From ‘Replicating’ International Experiences.” Although the title speaks for itself, this quote defending localization is particularly salient: “There is nothing wrong in recognizing other nations’ experiences, but we must first recognize the commercial, business, and legislation environments, [their] obstacles, and how to overcome them, and try to build the specialized institutions that will achieve goals … through our own capabilities, experiences and local culture.”

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