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🌱 The Bulletin #16: Recapping the VWV x WIB Women in VC Panel, Danny Warshay & the Entrepreneurial Process, and Curriculum Snapshot #3
Good morning lovely VWV readers! This week’s newsletter is all about the entrepreneurial process and how to create a start-up. Grab a banh mi from Lotus Pepper or a chai from BH, and come learn how you could be a founder.
The 1K Project for Ukraine 🇺🇦
Before we get started, we’d like to share with you the 1K Project, a program led by New York City VC **Alex Iskold** that sends money directly to Ukrainian families in need. Consider donating to the cause through the their website.
Here’s how it works:
Go to the 1K Project website and click “sponsor a family”
You’ll receive a text message with information on a Ukrainian family—name, location, and bank card information
Follow the steps to send funds through a website called Wise
Transfer directly via ACH rather than with credit cards, so that the money can move directly
As Alex Iskold puts it, "If every one of us can touch the lives of just one family, we'll make such a huge difference as a collective.” 💛
What We’re Watching 🥢
🤯 Company Building 101 by Speechify’s Founder and CEO Cliff Weitzman
Cliff Weitzman ‘16 came to Brown in the fall of 2021 to give some advice on creating a company, building on his own background of creating his concentration Renewable Energy Engineering at Brown, building 36 products, and beginning his entrepreneurship journey with Speechify.
How do you build a company?
Through practice!!!! (those 36 product creations did not go to waste!)
He says, “Just go and do it, build stuff... Every Saturday and Sunday, we [Valentin Perez, former president of Brown Entrepreneurship Program, founder of Start-up @ Brown, and founder/CEO of Monthly, also Weitzman’s best friend!] would get together at the Ratty at 10am and we would do a mini hackathon. We would from 10am to 5pm just build stuff and that was the best way of practicing. I wasn’t a computer science major but I would just look at Youtube videos on how to make stuff.”
It’s a lengthy 2 hour video but I promise you won’t be disappointed. Check out Weitzman’s incredible story on how he got back a stolen laptop if you don’t have 2 hours and you’re looking for a good laugh.
Event Recap 🎤
🥂 VWV X WIB Women in VC Panel
VWV was thrilled to host a Women in VC Panel alongside Women in Business this past Wednesday! Our audience members got to hear from four women in VC: **Ashley Aydin,** Principal at VamosVentures; Alexis Alston, Senior Associate at Lightship Capital; **Ally Zhu,** Lead Venture Partner at Contrary, and our very own Co-Director Kia Uusitalo!
Our panelists shared inspiring stories about navigating the male-dominated field of venture capital and taking steps to address the gender disparity in VC. Alexis kindly pointed out that as Brown student, we are incredibly lucky to have free access to hundreds of invaluable databases that most founders can’t afford, including Pitchbook (which is at least $50k / year) and Crunchbase Pro. Ashley also gave some great insight on the male dominated field of VC and start-ups. Her main advice: women support women and work to create community & mentorship opportunities!
Alexis kindly pointed out that as Brown student, we are incredibly lucky to have free access to hundreds of invaluable databases that most founders can’t afford, including Pitchbook (which is at least $50k / year) and Crunchbase Pro.
Ashley also gave some great insight on the male dominated field of VC and start-ups. Her advice: women support women and join/create that sort of community + mentorship! One for example is All Raise, an amazing ecosystem built to support women in tech.
Please feel free to reach out to any of them on LinkedIn if you want to chat 1-on-1 to ask some questions– they’re more than happy to hop on a quick call!
What We’re Reading 📚
💥 Danny Warshay’s Release of See, Solve, Scale 💥
Warshay gave a great overview on what the entrepreneurial process looks like. He explains that entrepreneurship is a structured process for solving problem, and “anyone can learn and master it and apply it.” The steps are conveniently listed in his book title: See, Solve, Scale.
See: Too often, people are trying to create a solution in search of a problem. Bottom up research is the most crucial part of the process to truly understand on what the target consumers actually want.
Solve: Warshay strongly advises founders to have a creative approach to iteratively solve the problem on a smaller scale. This allows for rapid testing on the product/service to gauge if the predicted problem is actually a problem and if there’s a clear need for the solution.
Scale: “Only when you’re clear on the small scale solution is, you evolve the solution in a big way,” Warshay says.
Warshay’s methodology has proven to work at many Brown founded start-ups at the Nelson Center of Entrepreneurship and has been shared to students through many of his talks/lectures at conferences and universities.
👾 Hello, Content Creators. Silicon Valley’s Investors Want to Meet You
The online influencer culture is starting to draw interest from big Silicon Valley investors.
But VCs seem far more interested in the digital tools that content creators use than the personalities themselves.
Influencer-related startups that recently received funding include Pietra ($15 million round led by Founders Fund); PearPop ($16 million round led by Seven Seven Six and Bessemer Venture Partners); and Stir (valued at $100 million by a16z).
New concept: "creator washing"?
Read more about content creators, digital tools, and “creator washing” here!
Curriculum Snapshot #3: Exits 📸
Welcome back to another part of our Curriculum Snapshot series, where we give you a quick rundown of what our Analysts-In-Training are currently learning in curriculum meetings!
This Monday, we talked about one of the most important topics in the VC world: once an investment is made, how does a VC cash out?
This is where **exit strategies** come in. Here is a brief overview of the different exit routes that a company can take:
Initial Public Offering (IPO): when a company achieves a stock market listing so that the VC can also sell their shares to the public. In general, this is generally the most profitable exit route for VCs.
Trade sale or merger & acquisition (M&A): the sale of a company to an existing firm. For the buyer, this means nothing more than a strategic acquisition of a venture for which the VC gets “immediate” cash in return. For entrepreneurs, however, this represents a change in ownership and a loss of control.
Management buyout: the VC sells their shares back to the entrepreneur. In practice, this rarely happens—a company would have to be highly liquid to have the capital to buy back the VC’s shares.
Refinancing: the VC’s stocks are purchased by another VC. Again, this is a rare outcome that only, but not always, happens when the firm has a lot of debt on the balance sheet.
Liquidation: the company files for bankruptcy. No one wants this outcome. Only preferred stockholders get paid back—and even then, VCs are not likely to see a handsome return, if any.
🦄 Why Unicorns Are Staying Private for Longer
Analysts-in-Training also discussed a new trend in the VC world: why exactly are unicorns—companies valued at $1 billion or more—staying private for longer?
The main reason for this dynamic is that the US Jumpstart our Business Startups (JOBS) Act allowed the maximum number of shareholders in a company to increase fourfold before it must disclose financial statements. This gives companies the opportunity to focus on long-term strategy instead of short-term quarterly earnings and retain the competitive advantage of not disclosing financial details. Tech companies, it seems, are now more willing to survive and thrive in the private market rather than rush an IPO.
Finally, check out our incoming Co-Director Ria Panjwani’s blog post from last spring to read more about Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), an easier way for companies to IPO!
And that wraps up our third Curriculum Snapshot! We’re always looking to engage and would love to hear your thoughts!
Every week, VWV does a "deep dive" into a particular industry, sector, or trend where we identify the market, top performers, exciting future developments, and why we are excited about the space. Do you have an area you are particularly interested in? **Shoot us an email** with your idea of what we should do a "Deep Dive" in next, and see yourself featured in our next newsletter!
As always, if you are a Brown alum with a startup we should hear about, don’t be shy—reach out to email@example.com!
Thanks for tuning in, and have a lovely spring break <3
van wickle v