CategoryInvesting

Bills of Exchange, RIP

300 YEARS AGO, when the British Empire was still growing, the first wave of global trade was powered not only by the Pound Sterling, but by trades in Bills of Exchange. How did traders from London buy tea in India, porcelain in Hong Kong, or silks in Singapore? They didn’t haul cases of silver and gold in their outbound ships, trading coins for goods. They had to do that when global trade...

Sequoia sees the light

Over at The Angel Accelerator I’ve been teaching new startup investors the history of venture capital. It’s one of those industries that feels like it’s been around forever, maybe inherited from the Roman or British Empire, but in reality, in its modern form, was created in my grandparents generation, after my parents were born, and wasn’t a mature, robust, big industry...

The state and future of vertical farming

As a startup investor (and fund manager), there are themes that appear repeatedly in the dealflow submitted by startups. The entrepreneurs typically can’t see these patterns, and thus end up wasting their time repeating the same business plans that others many have tried and failed. I’ve written about this information asymmetry before and included a short list of business ideas Fledge...

Venture capital funding: U.S. vs. Africa

I came across “All the world’s a stage” over on Substack, with the following graph: Do note that the select countries in the box are a blow-up of the bottom left corner. $11 per capita in Kenya, the hottest startup funding market in all of Africa. That made me wonder what the equivalent statistic is here in Seattle. A quick search found 2020 data from Statistica on venture...

Neither Unicorns nor Zebra, but Elephants

Zebra’s may fix what Unicorns break, but that hasn’t stopped the investing world from their focus on hunting unicorns. Maybe a little in the impact investing space, but there the world of young companies is split into “startups” and “SMEs” with the latter still looked upon as potential unicorns and the latter often derided as unworthy of investment. Rather than...

Some funds ask to be paid to waste your time!

Last month I wrote: There are funds that waste the time of startups never actually writing checks. I won’t call them out publicly by name, but one prominent institutional lender just wasted 10 months of time of one my fledglings, and I’m sure they are sitting around as upset with us as we are of them. I thought that was the end of the story. 10 months of conversations and due diligence, two...

Some funds waste your time

The flipside to “unfundable” companies are funds that waste the time of startups never actually writing checks. I won’t call them out publicly by name, but one prominent institutional lender just wasted 10 months of time of one my fledglings, and I’m sure they are sitting around as upset with us as we are of them. First and foremost, investors, if it takes you more than...

“Unfundable”

This week I taught The Realities of Funding to the entrepreneurs at The Land Accelerator. It’s a depressing topic, as it continues to be true that there are orders of magnitude more good startups than funders. In that talk the word “unfundable” takes a prominent role. This is a word that venture capitalists and many Angels use to describe the 99% of startups that they pass over...

Due to Insanity

I do a lot of teaching and the latest topic for me is teaching early-stage/Angel investing. As part of that we talk a lot about “norms”, as most of system for investing in startups is wrapped around norms more than logic. I’ll go into why that is some other time. What struck me a few moments ago was an LLC Agreement I was reviewing for an investment. Normally the reasons listed...

Impact Investing is Complicated

My biggest learning from nine years of impact investing is the complexity of the space. I spent the first twenty years of my life as a software entrepreneur, i.e. a techie, and in comparison with venture capital for tech startups, impact is an order of magnitude more complicated. Ultimately the complexity boils down to two issues. 1 – Geography It used to be that 90% of tech investing was...

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