Society News Update, 9 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.


  • Congratulations to Joe Floyd (Class 18)—Silicon Heroes graphic novel has hit the shelves. Read all about it!
  • Katelyn Donnelly (Class 21) co-authors bold opinion piece for TechCrunch
  • Bay Area Women Breakfast recap
  • Ramphis Castro (Class 19) writes on the “Valley of Death” for life sciences startups
  • Allen Taylor (Class 16) offers advice to Latin American entrepreneurs seeking venture capital
  • Brian Dixon (Class 21) to speak on “Learning the Secrets to Funding Success”
  • Numerous Kauffman Fellows speak at SaaStr conference this week
  • Portfolio happenings: Frontline Ventures closes €60M fund (Shay Garvey, Mentor Class 21; Will Prendergast, Class 14; William McQuillan, Class 21) • Ashish Gupta (Class 7) joins board of HyperTrack
  • Fellows on the move: Lesley Esford (Class 20) named Executive Director of the industry nonprofit LifeSciences BC
  • Podcast interviews with Kauffman Fellows: Vinnie Lauria (Class 17) on “Love Your Work” • Daniel Kraft (Class 13) on KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny (San Francisco NPR affiliate)
  • This week’s blog selections: Bill Tobin (KF Faculty) has 2 posts about managing one’s energy in a world of finite time, for productivity and life satisfaction • Guy Turner (Class 17) shares his observations from his recent 5-city Midwestern tour • Carl Fritjofsson (Class 21) offers a primer in governing law to European startups ready to expand to the US.
  • Job opportunities
    NEW: White Star Capital • Sapphire Ventures
    CONTINUING: Gates Foundation Venture CapitalBurberry

Congratulations to Joe Floyd (Class 18): Silicon Heroes Graphic Novel Has Hit the Shelves!

Silicon Heroes coverAs we announced back in October 2015, Joe Floyd (Class 18) took on a most unique project to complete his fellowship (known to some readers as a field project or thought leadership project). Joe created an 80-page graphic novel entitled Silicon Heroes and raised $45K for production via an Indiegogo campaign. Those campaign backers (including this writer) received their copies in the mail last week, and the book is now available on

The book features amazing drawings and ink in true graphic novel style. You’d hardly guess that you were reading about this cast of characters:

  • Joe, “the hero who represents the internal struggles of every entrepreneur. He has to overcome aspects of his own humanity, like self-doubt, fear, and envy, that impede his ability to succeed.”
  • Alexis, the hero who “fights the external forces that many entrepreneurs must resist every day.” She is “self-confident” and “visionary,” but feels “weighed down by the gravity of uncontrollable forces.”
  • Shaun is the “villain who embodies many characteristics that plague established enterprises, like nepotism, entitlement, and laziness.”
  • Kenny and Jackie are the “indispensable” and “lovable sidekicks” who “provide a bit of comedy while simultaneously challenging” the “common stereotypes of an engineer.”

Joe will be revealing and discussing one page at a time on his Silicon Heroes blog. His first post, the story of the book’s cover, is already online.

All proceeds from the book are donated to Girls Who Code and, and Joe reports that over $5K has already been given. This book has been a 3-year journey from initial idea to printed pages—congratulations, Joe!

Katelyn Donnelly (Class 21) Co-Authors Bold Opinion Piece for TechCrunch

TechCrunch logoKatelyn Donnelly (Class 21) co-authored a bold opinion piece for TechCrunch, “Drain the Swamp.” With her Pearson Affordable Learning Fund colleague Arvind Nagarajan, she calls for a tectonic shift in venture capital investing, from funding companies that cater to this country’s elites, to focusing on companies that build sustainable jobs and benefit the middle class, women, minorities, and regular people across the United States.

The authors point out the often-overlooked fact that “the app-based economy … does nothing to serve the basic needs of most Americans.” Additionally, startups are often selling their product at a loss—your Uber fare, for example, only covers 41% of the actual cost of your trip.

More significantly, the authors take a closer look at pension funds, major LPs in the venture world that purportedly invest on behalf of a large number of middle-class Americans. Pension funds, they assert, are the backbone of the venture ecosystem—but while VC relies on pension funds, they state, “80 percent of funds deliver below-market returns.” Moreover, the venture industry as a whole does little to benefit the lives of the regular people behind those invested pension dollars. (For example, teachers are overwhelmingly female but their pension funds are being deployed in a predominantly male investment ecosystem, to benefit predominantly male-led startups.)

Katelyn and Arvind urge people to push back against the status quo by seeking alternative venture funds that do focus on benefiting middle-class America, and by asking hard questions of their pension funds and urging those fund managers to “be more responsible in their fiduciary duty.” They also urge venture capitalists to “take a road less traveled and back local women and men who place values at the center of their organizations … [and] who build businesses that promote a prosperous humanity.”

Bay Area Women Fellows Breakfast Recap

Our second Quarterly Breakfast was hosted by Susan Mason (Class 2) from Aligned Partners on February 2 in Menlo Park. We had a group of 21 women Kauffman Fellows across classes and were accompanied by guest speaker Pat Reilly of PR & Company to discuss “Personal Branding and Multimedia Strategy for 2017.” The next breakfast will be hosted by Victoria Cheng (Class 19) of Citi Ventures on Thursday, May 4 in San Francisco. Details to come soon! (Photos and information provided by Hana Yang [])
Women Quarterly Breakfast, 1Q2017

Ramphis Castro (Class 19) Writes of the “Valley of Death” for Life Sciences Startups

Entrepreneur LogoRamphis Castro (Class 19) wrote “How to Bridge the Funding Gap for Scientific Breakthroughs” in Entrepreneur this week. He highlights the difficulties that life sciences startups have in their early stages, describing how the gap between the ability of potential investors to understand medical research projects, and the ability of researchers to understand how to navigate the venture capital ecosystem, creates a “Valley of Death” where promising medical projects and technologies fail.

Aimed at medical “research entrepreneurs,” the article outlines three key phases of funding for medical startups, as well as several stumbling blocks for venture investors. Ramphis advises founders to draw on connections to overcome their challenges, reach out to founders of similar companies, carefully track the resources needed to reach milestones, keep costs low by using available services and tools, and above all, to keep trying.

Allen Taylor (Class 16) Offers Advice to Latin American Entrepreneurs Seeking Venture Capital

America's Quarterly logoAllen Taylor (Class 16), VP of Global Networks at Endeavor, wrote an article in Americas Quarterly: “5 Steps to Getting Venture Capital in Latin America.” He first cautions that venture capital funds are not appropriate for every startup; VC is focused on high-growth tech firms with the potential to scale rapidly that are addressing a big problem, or approaching a big market audience. Furthermore, the minimum investment amount of about $5M for VC firms means that startups need to look locally for seed and angel funding for their initial stages of development. He also stresses that VCs will only invest in a firm once they know quite a bit about it, which takes a period of time—for LatAm startups, that means a lot of frequent flyer miles for developing relationships face-to-face. Once startups know they are a good fit for venture funding, Allen says, the next step is to figure out which VC firm is a good fit, via an investor map as well as an evaluation of what they themselves want from the startup–VC relationship. Read the full story.

Brian Dixon (Class 21) to Speak on “Learning the Secrets to Funding Success”

PitchPerfect logoBrian Dixon (Class 21) of Kapor Capital will speak on Monday, February 20 at the monthly PitchPerfect Silicon Valley “VC Chat & Global Demo Nite” event in San Francisco; the topic of the evening is “Learning the Secrets to Funding Success.” (Marlon Nichols, Class 18, of Cross Culture Ventures was the invited guest on January 31, discussing “Investing & Trends in 2017.”) PitchPerfect is a networking organization that assists startups in preparing their decks and perfecting their funding pitches, including speaker series, workshops, demo nights, and networking events.

Numerous Kauffman Fellows Speak at SaaStr Conference This Week

SaaStr logoWith over 10,000 attendees, this San Francisco event bills itself as the “largest non-vendor confab in the world, uniting the global SaaS community both online and off,” with the goal of helping people “do better, more quickly and with less stress.” We’re proud to report that a large number of Kauffman Network members, including several current and former members of our board of directors, are speakers at this year’s SaaStr event:

  • Jason Green (Charter) – “What Changes at $20 Million ARR?”
  • Santi Subotovsky (Class 15) – “How I Built Our First Functional Customer Success Organization”
  • Mark Suster (Mentor Class 21) – “Top Lessons Learned after 200+ SaaS Investments”
  • Brad Feld (KF BOD) – “FeldThoughts Live!: One-on-One with Brad Feld”
  • Mamoon Hamid (Class 11, KF BOD) – “Numbers that Actually Matter for Founders”
  • Josh Stein (Class 9, KF BOD Emeritus) – “Top 10 VP of Sales Lessons Learned Scaling to $100m+ ARR”
  • Kevin Spain (Class 11) is also listed as a conference speaker

In addition, Guy Turner (Class 17) wrote a blog post about his plans to attend this conference for the first time: “Celebrating SaaStr: The Essence of Software and Zero Marginal Cost.”

Portfolio happenings:

  • Congratulations to Frontline Ventures (Shay Garvey, Mentor Class 21; Will Prendergast Class 14; William McQuillan, Class 21), which raised a new €60M Fund II for B2B startups across Europe, and has already started investing from it. Will says, “With this Fund II, Frontline is positioned to be the investment partner of choice for ambitious software entrepreneurs building out from Europe to the U.S.” The European Investment Fund’s Chief Executive commented, “EIF is very pleased to invest in Frontline, one of the key funds in the early stage Irish ICT-sector. The investment activity of Frontline clearly contributes to a strengthening of the Irish VC and start-up ecosystem and we are happy to be able to support this effort.” [TechCrunch article] [Independent article] [Press release]
  • Ashish Gupta (Class 7) has joined the most recent $1.5M funding round for the startup HyperTrack and has taken a seat on the company’s board. HyperTrack helps businesses track products or people in real time, and is already operating with customers in 30+ countries with its pay-per-use product. Ashish says, “HyperTrack will continue providing increasingly richer building blocks that leverage location (value-added-location as a service).” The company’s founder says, “Gupta has joined a non-Helion backed company only twice in the past and we feel honored to have him.” Ashish is the co-founder of Helion Partners. [LiveMint story] [TechPortal story]

Fellows on the move:

  • Lesley Esford (Class 20) has been named Executive Director of LifeSciences BC, a nonprofit industry association that “supports and represents the life science community of British Columbia.” James Hatton, the group’s Chairman, said, “We are confident that [Lesley’s] vision and abilities will significantly benefit BC’s life sciences community.” LifeSciences BC  [Press release]

Vinnie Laura - Love Your WorkRecent podcasts featuring Kauffman Fellows:

Vinnie Lauria (Class 17) was interviewed on the podcast series “Love Your Work,” discussing how Vinnie and his wife came to give up his Mission district apartment in San Francisco with a one-way ticket across the Pacific.

[On the Product Hunt website, click the red “GET IT” button to listen to the show.]

Daniel Kraft (Class 13) was a guest on KQED (the San Francisco NPR station), on the segment “Forum” with host Michael Krasny. The title of the discussion was “First Person: Daniel Kraft on the Next Stage of Digital Medicine.”

Daniel Kraft screenshot

This week’s blog selections:

Do you write a blog, or have an essay you’d like to share? Email and we’ll include it here.

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 post a job at your firm or portfolio company, please email us.

  • (NEW): 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 post for full details and application information. (This job posting was sent in from Lylan Masterman, Class 19.)
  • (NEW): 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.
  • Charlotte Hubbert (Class 14), Partner at Gates Foundation Venture Capital (the investment arm of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), is looking to hire a Principal, primarily focused on early-stage biotechnology, to join her 10-person investment team. Working with the Foundation’s program teams, the Principal will help source investment opportunities that have the potential to significantly advance the Foundation’s goals and then lead deal teams on the negotiation, execution, and portfolio management of venture investments, including serving as the Foundation’s board representative or observer for certain investee companies. Read the full job description and apply online on the Foundation’s website.
  • Daniel Heaf (Class 15), SVP Digital Commerce & Digital Marketing at Burberry, has announced on LinkedIn that their firm is searching for a Senior Digital Marketing Manager, based in London. This manager is responsible for perfecting the firm’s long-term digital content strategy; deliver a consistent, seamless experience across touch-points; and monitor the digital landscape for new opportunities. Extensive digital marketing experience with a background in leading digital platforms strategies is required for this mid-senior level position. Read the full job description, including application information, on LinkedIn.

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