Venture Capital na teoria e prática [Portuguese]

[Editor’s Note] This is a guest post from Gabriela de Salles van der Linden, a participant in our recent Venture Capital Unlocked program at Stanford CPD. Gabriela has 10 years of work experience in the Brazilian venture capital industry, most recently as an executive partner of CRP Companhia de Participaçōes.

O que aprendi no curso da 500 Startups em conjunto com Stanford University

Quando tive conhecimento sobre o curso da 500 Startups em conjunto com Stanford University, o VC Unlocked, me perguntei se de fato um curso com tais características poderia ampliar minha visão depois de quase 10 anos trabalhando com venture capital no Brasil. Seria essa uma boa oportunidade para refletir e atualizar sobre o que está acontecendo sob uma perspectiva global?

Diversidade, Teoria e Prática

O curso une os  aprendizados do Vale do Silício à experiência internacional trazida pelos participantes – ao todo, foram 32 pessoas, das quais 74% de fora dos EUA. O ambiente não poderia ser mais adequado para propiciar um tempo de reflexão, discussão dos principais desafios e, em especial, ver na prática como esse ambiente foi construído e as principais mudanças e tendências.

Class at Venture Capital Unlocked

Pela primeira vez participei de um curso de educação executiva onde quase 50% dos participantes eram mulheres. Além disso, todos os continentes estavam muito bem representados com uma variedade de países, de Rússia ao Hawaii, de Austrália a África, passando também por Colômbia, Índia, China, México, Arábia Saudita. Aqui foi a maior riqueza da discussão – misturar os segredos de VC no Vale do Silício com as diferentes e riquíssimas experiências ao redor do mundo.

A parceria 500+Stanford foi uma ótima combinação entre teoria e prática. A experiência do time de Stanford foi implacável para traduzir o que aconteceu no Vale do Silício e seu histórico de inovação, não só em tecnologia mas também em formas de investimento. Em paralelo, a abordagem da 500 foi de mostrar como a empresa vem fazendo para se diferenciar neste mercado complexo e competitivo. Em sete anos, investiram em mais de 1,7 mil startups globalmente, hoje com três unicórnios no portfólio e dezenas de empresas com valuations que já atingem centenas de milhões de dólares.

Refletindo sobre o curso, não tenho dúvida que a educação é uma iniciativa fundamental para a construção de novos ecossistemas fortes de empreendedorismo, investimento e inovação. Viajar, fazer benchmark, aprender com os mais experientes e sob outras perspectivas é fundamental para vencer os inúmeros obstáculos na vida do venture capitalist. Sai do Brasil buscando essa oxigenação e volto mais convicta de alguns princípios básicos para a formação de negócios de sucesso.

Existe uma fórmula para o sucesso?

Os retornos extraordinários são para poucos. Poucos, porém existem e atuam com características próprias, únicas e que de fato os diferenciam. Embora não exista uma fórmula para o sucesso, alguns elementos são imprescindíveis. Dentre eles, os que acredito serem mais importantes são:

IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE

Selecionar, desenvolver, cultivar relações saudáveis e transparentes. Um time que se entende e compartilha dos mesmos princípios e visões é fundamental para trilhar esta jornada.

O melhor time é construído com alinhamento de valores, princípios e uma complementaridade muito forte.  A formação do time resulta na reputação da empresa. O dia a dia, desde os primeiros contatos com os empreendedores, a condução das negociações e o acompanhamento das investidas vai refletir na forma como a empresa é vista, na atratividade dos empreendedores e investidores para a sustentabilidade do negócio.

Workshop at Venture Capital Unlocked

Nesse aspecto, tivemos a oportunidade de visitar a Andreesen Horowitz. Com uma equipe de mais de 150 pessoas, número bastante atípico para uma gestora puramente de VC, há um foco bastante forte em ter especialistas, time técnico de análise e suporte das investidas. Condição para poucos, considerando o custo para uma estrutura nestes moldes. Entretanto, a preocupação com a qualidade é tanta que um indicador relevante que monitoram é o NPS, o qual avalia  atendimento daqueles empreendedores que tiveram o processo declinado pelo fundo. Esses mesmos empreendedores podem ser amigos de um próximo empreendedor de sucesso ou mesmo virem a ser um em alguns anos. Mantenha a melhor reputação, sempre!

FOCO

É para muito poucos o benefício de ser muito bom em diversos mercados ou estágios. Se você não está neste seleto grupo, simplifique e foque.

A especialização – regional, setorial ou por estágio – nos coloca em outro patamar de conhecimento, com capacidade de identificar as transformações e direcionamentos do mercado. Nos permite a construção de uma rede de parceiros, conselheiros, advisors, executivos de ponta.

Tivemos a oportunidade de ouvir e aprender com a experiência de de convidados ao longo do curso. Gestores de VC e investidores anjo com teses bastante distintas como Andy McLoughlin, SoftTech VC, que investe em early stage, Renata Quintini, Lux Capital, focada em ciência e tecnologias emergentes, e Allen Taylor, Endeavor Catalyst. Em comum, todos afirmam: nós investimos naquilo que a gente conhece.

Renata Quintini

NETWORKING

O acesso às melhores oportunidades, aos melhores profissionais e investidores é a combinação de fazer muito bem o seu trabalho e conectar com as pessoas certas.

Seja em um mercado altamente promissor e competitivo ou naqueles ainda em desenvolvimento, com escassez de oportunidades, vence aquele que acessar primeiro as startups e tiver a capacidade de identificar o potencial – correr o risco na direção certa. Para isso, é fundamental ter uma agenda dedicada a constantemente conhecer pessoas, ouvir, trocar experiências, observar e ajudar.

Temos que manter os nossos bancos sempre muito bem atualizados, sejam de talentos – (CTOs, CFOs, CMOs, etc), de potenciais compradores e coinvestidores, sendo este último aqueles que irão participar do plano de crescimento da investida e ajudar a potencializar o retorno – seja por expertise técnica, atuação em novos mercados ou outra complementaridade de recursos.

Team Potluck at Venture Capital Unlocked

Conclusões

Desvendar os segredos do Vale do Silício é um exercício de constante inquietação e inspiração. É inegável a existência de características únicas desse ecossistema. Mas também é inegável a oportunidade que está sendo criada em novos mercados. Mercados grandes, com potencial consumidor ascendente e cada vez mais pessoas qualificadas para inovar e executar. O Brasil é, sem dúvida, uma destas oportunidades. Há dez anos, não falávamos em aceleradoras, rodadas de investimento, coinvestimento, etc… Hoje temos grupos de investidores anjo, aceleradoras e inúmeros fundos de venture capital que estão cada vez mais qualificados para a construção do nosso ecossistema de empreendedorismo, inovação e investimento de nível global. A jornada ainda é longa e desafiadora, mas vejo que estamos no caminho certo.

Obrigada 500 Startups pela oportunidade e pelo incentivo a educação e a diversidade, acredito nessas iniciativas, abertas e colaborativas, para a evolução do o venture capital no mundo.

Interested in learning more about early stage investing? Check out our next program, Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley from October 23-26, 2017. Deal Camp is an intensive four-day course for investors who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. Apply today

How 500 Startups picks investments

How do you evaluate a potential startup investment?

This is inevitably one of the first questions I’m asked when talking to aspiring VCs at industry events and programs like VC Unlocked: Deal Camp, and rightfully so.

Ask around and you’ll hear about the hours clocked and the expensive mistakes a VC has to make in order to develop the muscle memory and pattern recognition to succeed in this industry. Throw in the influx of capital chasing fewer high-potential startups, and it becomes increasingly clear that early stage investors need to arm themselves with something stronger than gut instinct.

For investors looking to break into the industry, that means honing in on their opportunity assessment framework and filters that allow them to mitigate risk and maximize returns.

Opportunity Assessment

Let’s start by defining opportunity assessment: simply put, it’s a set of criteria or questions that will make you say yes or no to an investment.

Opportunity assessment is a foundational discipline for any VC, and often one that takes the longest to hone. It’s particularly hard for early stage investments when you don’t have financials to project. By approaching your evaluation of new investments in a more systematic way, you’ll save yourself some war stories down the road.

With over 1,800 investments under our belt, we like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about opportunity assessment. Here’s how we evaluate early stage investment opportunities:

At 500, we’re pretty transparent about our investment thesis. Compared to more traditional VC firms on Sand Hill Road, we prefer a large, diversified portfolio of early-stage investments that reduces risk and maximizes potential return. In other words, we advocate lots of little bets.

lots of little bets

 

 

 

 

Now once you have that thesis, how do you put it into practice? That’s where your frameworks and filters come in. Every firm’s framework is different, depending on their area of focus, and each is crucial to their success (or lack thereof).

Over the course of seven years, we’ve built a data-driven process based on a selection of pre-defined metrics.

Kickass Team

Ideally, we’re looking for a cross-functional team with design, engineering and marketing expertise. In our experience, bringing together technical team members and talented product and distribution pros is a winning combination.

Solving a problem

The product or service you’re investing in should solve a problem for a specific target customer. In many cases, that goes hand in hand with a market shift and means solving a problem that wasn’t obvious before.

Capital-efficient business

We’re looking for companies that are operational at less than $1M in external financing. Their CAPEX needs to be low, or we need to see revenue ticking upwards. Watch that burn rate!

Path to Series A

If you’re running out of money and trying to raise again, chances are you’re already too late. As early-stage investors, we need to know whether you can raise the next round. Startups die for one reason…

Functional prototype

We need to see a functional prototype before investing, or previous product success at the very least. Early customer usage is another bonus.

Measurable traction

Beware of vanity metrics. We’re looking for engaged users, some revenue, and attractive unit economics that are trending upwards.

Scalability

One a company has product market fit, they should have either scalable internet-based distribution (search, social, mobile) or a proven ability to scale sales. 500 has an in-house distro team of growth marketing experts that specializes in advising post-seed companies preparing to raise their Series A round.

When 500 Startups likes to invest:

sweet spot for 500

So there you have it, a high-level overview of how we evaluate new venture opportunities. Once you’ve decided on your framework on whether to invest in a company or not, it’s time to move on and focus on pricing and terms.

If you’d like to learn more and deep dive into specific case studies, hear first-hand from founders, and more, check out our upcoming Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley from October 23-36.

VC Unlocked: Deal Camp @ Berkeley

Deal Camp is a four-day intensive program focused on the nuts and bolts of deal making for investors who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. Participants will work with leading UC Berkeley faculty and 500 Partners to develop strategies to structure deals in order to maximize investment return.

VC Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley

Submit your application today!

Looking back at VC Unlocked 2017

After two weeks of intense coursework, six guest lectures, 32 investment thesis presentations, and a mind-boggling amount of coffee, another successful VC Unlocked Program with the Stanford Center for Professional Development is officially a wrap.

With over 200 applicants, this was our most competitive application process yet. We’ve covered the amazing diversity and background of the class in a previous post, but suffice to say that we had several contenders for The Most Interesting Woman (and Man) in the World.

Now that we’ve had some time to catch up on some sleep (and email), we’ll recap a few of the many highlights from the latest installment of our flagship educational program.

Setting the framework

“Whether they’re new to angel investing or an experienced practitioner, we want participants to come away from VC Unlocked with an insider’s perspective on Silicon Valley investing. It’s about empowering participants with better resources and insights that they can apply to their investing back home,” said Bedy Yang, managing partner at 500 and the mastermind behind VC Unlocked.

That thinking is reflected in the structure of the curriculum. The first week was grounded in academic theory and VC fundamentals. Stanford University faculty and 500 partners covered topics including building an investment thesis, VC structure and returns, attracting deal flow, opportunity assessment, and how to raise a fund.

“The beginning of the course provides a theoretical foundation for the practice of venture capital investing,” said Michael Lepech, Associate Professor at Stanford University.

Prominent VCs joined our afternoon sessions throughout the week for candid discussions. Marlon Nichols discussed his investment approach at Cross Culture Ventures and experience as a Kauffman fellow. SoftTech’s Andy McCoughlin shared 12 lessons from 12 years of investing, including “beware the quick pass.”

Renata Quintini at VC Unlocked

Renata Quintini of Lux, a member of Forbes’ Midas Brink list, talked about her path across the table from the Stanford Endowment fund to frontier investing, and how her experience as a karate champ shaped her approach to business.

Finally, Capria’s Will Poole wrapped up the first week with a prediction that “impact investing will become a strategy employed by all investors.”

VC Unlocked Potluck

Credit: Paula Barrientos

Applying Concepts

During week two, participants applied those concepts with more practical, action-based exercises and in-depth lectures.

As always, one of the highlights of the program was our visit to 500’s DemoDay in Mountain View, where participants got a front-row look at our Batch 22 accelerator companies. During an investment committee simulation with 500 partners, participants also got the chance to meet a few of those startups and drill down on their businesses.

500 Startups DemoDay

In-class case studies on valuations and M&A, where participants split into groups and simulated both sides of an acquisition offer, were two of the most fun and interactive sessions.

Interactive Sessions at VC Unlocked

This year also included a trip down Sand Hill Road to visit the Andreesen-Horowitz office and learn more about their investment approach from investment partner, Li Jin.

Angel investor and one-man Shark Tank, Jason Calacanis, joined for his infamous “founder interviews” session.

Jason Calacanis at VC Unlocked

Rick Marini of Dragonfly Partners talked about war stories from angel investing and the importance of finding a path to Series A. Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew spoke about consumer tech trends and rubbing elbows with Will.i.am and Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of Planet of the Apps.

Rick Marini of Dragonfly Partners

The course culminated in participants’ investment thesis presentations, honed after two weeks of coursework. It was a great opportunity for participants to incorporate feedback from faculty and fellow peers and stress-test their latest thinking. 78% of the class said their investment thesis had changed over the course of the program.

Last day of the program!

Testimonials

“VC Unlocked is an insider’s guide to an asset class filled with mystery and risk. I feel more confident and informed about my decision making process after this rigorous two weeks. Thank you 500 Startups & Stanford!”

  • Vivek Shah, Equanimity Ventures LLP

“The most important thing in venture capital is your network. The people I met in the program – classmates, instructors, 500 team – are amazing. They’ll be professional contacts and personal friends forever, which is truly invaluable.”

  • Jules Miller, LunaCap

Applications for Next Year

Interested in attending the next VC Unlocked program?

Join our email list to stay updated on the latest news. We’re finalizing exact dates for next year and will let you know as soon as it’s official.

Kicking off VC Unlocked, and a New Website!

Big news! It’s the first week of VC Unlocked!

We’re welcoming an awesome new group to the Stanford campus this week. They’ve traveled from as far as Lagos and Melbourne to be with us here in Silicon Valley and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

In the spirit of #500Strong, we wanted to share some fun facts about the participants and the exciting program we have planned. Here goes:

  • 47% of participants are women
  • 74% are based internationally, representing 17 countries including Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Colombia, and the UAE
  • Participants have made 250+ investments in total
  • Areas of investment focus include FinTech, BioTech, telecom, FoodTech, and more
  • Participants come from family funds, government offices, startup accelerators, and private equity backgrounds
Participants from the July/Aug 2016 cohort of VC Unlocked on Stanford Campus

In addition to our stellar lineup of Stanford University professors and 500 Startups partners, we’ve also recruited some of the top VCs from Silicon Valley. Guest speakers this year include Renata Quintini (Lux Capital), Jason Calacanis (INSIDE.com) Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed VP), Marlon Nichols (Cross Culture Ventures), Andy McLoughlin (SoftTech VC), and Rick Marini (Dragonfly Partners).

We’ve got a packed schedule for the next two weeks. Lecture topics run the gamut, from “Understanding Cap Tables and Ownership” to “Attracting Deal Flow,” as well as practical and action-based exercises, including founder interviews, opportunity assessments, and more.

Outside the classroom, we’ve also planned special visits to Andreesen-Horowitz, class dinners, and, drumroll please, our invite-only DemoDay!

Guest lecturer Jason Calacanis presenting to participants in 2016

Oh, and one more thing. We also launched a new site for VC Unlocked today!

It’s an updated visual design that showcases more information about the program, attendees, and instructors. We think it will be a great resource for prospective students and past participants alike and we’re excited to share it today. Let us know what you think!

Tune in over the next few weeks where we’ll feature guest posts from current participants as well as a fun recap that summarizes some of the key takeaways from the program’s lectures and events.