Meet the Investors

Get to know the investors through their answers to common questions.

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What Is Your "Investment Thesis?"

  • Jillian

    We brand ourselves “Architects of the Zero Waste Economy,” investing in under-utilizing assets and capacity. Wasted...vehicles, space, breath (breathe science device: Revolar), water and contents in package goods (Liquiglide), space, transportation, and PEOPLE (e.g. service men and women).
  • Phil

    My motto is, “Show me the numbers.” On the show, it’s become almost a bit of a joke because I’m always the one who wants to cut to the chase and hear about the company’s revenue, its expenses, its customer retention rates, and the like, but I really do operate with the belief that the numbers cut through a lot of the stories we like to tell ourselves, the emotion that can cloud our judgment. If you can build a business that generates meaningful revenue, it answers so many of the other questions for me that investors would otherwise ask: “How do you know if customers are going to want to buy your product?” “How are you going to make money?” The real-life financials answer all these questions and reduce risk significantly. At least I know I’m investing in a real, money-generating business rather than a pipe dream. I know I’ll miss out on some big deals this way, but it is a discipline that allows me to focus on managing risk and identifying the “real business” diamonds in the rough.
  • Daniel

    That great teams build great companies that deliver great investor returns!

How Big is your fund?

  • Jillian

    $40M
  • Phil

    Theoretically Unlimited

What's The Size Of Your Average Investment?

  • Daniel

    $3M - $5M
  • Jillian

    $250K - $500K
  • Phil

    $300K - $500K

Why did you get into VC investing? What do you like most about it?

  • Jillian

    I have always wanted to help people reach their potential. Being a seed stage funder is also being a teacher and hopefully a role model. I am deeply humbled by all my founders. They are so much smarter than I am...but don't tell them. Mum's the word.
  • Phil

    I am a serial entrepreneur. I have started and exited several companies during my career. I understand and appreciate the entrepreneurial journey and the entrepreneurial drive. I love working with entrepreneurs to help them grow their companies. I also love learning about the nuances of many different industries and staying on top of the new and innovative technologies.
  • Daniel

    Before becoming a VC, I spent much of my spare time hanging out with other entrepreneurs, brainstorming ideas and strategy and thinking of ways to help them with their companies. Being a VC was a way I could do that every day during normal business hours.

Would you want your kids to be VCs? Why/why not?

  • Phil

    I want my kids to follow their own journeys and pursue their own passions. I find being a VC to be very fulfilling, but I don’t know if they will. However, if they do want to go into VC, I would recommend that they start their own business first. This will give them an important perspective and make them much better VCs. My older son is already a successful entrepreneur and would make a great VC if that’s what he chooses to do.
  • Jillian

    I would want my children to be anything that provides them joy. My daughter, Mandy, is well on her way to becoming a rocking VC.
  • Daniel

    I love the intellectual stimulation and potential for impact that being a VC entails, and certainly would not talk them out of it. That said, VC is still a cottage industry and is a pretty specific place to be in the world.

How Many Pitches Do You Hear On Average In A Year?

  • Daniel

    500+
  • Jillian

    350
  • Phil

    200/month

How Many Companies Do You Invest in, on average, per year?

  • Daniel

    4-6
  • Jillian

    60 over past 3 years
  • Phil

    12-15

What is the biggest misconception you’ve heard from others, about life as a VC?

  • Jillian

    VCs’ lives are all extremely different. There are so many misconceptions.
  • Phil

    That it’s glamorous! The truth is that like any business, if you want to be successful, you have to work really hard.
  • Daniel

    That success is all about picking winners, as if everyone gets to meet the next Mark Zuckerberg and then decide for themselves whether or not to invest. Really, life as a VC is about constantly ensuring you have early access to the best entrepreneurs coming on-stream. This sets the stage for the “pick.”

Which industry do you think is totally overrated right now? Why?

  • Jillian

    Cryptocurrency. It's not that it's overrated as it is more... speculative. I have purchased a number of cryptocurrencies to track. That said, encouraged by my 22 year old son, Nick, who is working at a startup in SF and is an economics major from Duke, I have been educating myself in this space as I know it will be transformational in the future. How far away is that future, no one truly knows.
  • Phil

    I think virtual reality (VR) is overhyped right now. There are very few really compelling applications for it. It's cool technology, but not really solving many problems. I have seen a lot of good use cases for augmented reality, but not nearly as many for VR. If a product or technology is not solving an important problem or alleviating a significant pain point or in some way improving users’ lives in a meaningful way, then it’s unlikely to become hugely successful.
  • Daniel

    The crypto world is full of promise, but also unscrupulous behavior. It is very much a case of buyer beware out there.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to entrepreneurs who are pitching their company?

  • Jillian

    Know your numbers. Don't be afraid to show your EQ. Know your brand narrative. Be able to communicate with energy and clarity. NO rambling. What is your WHY first. Then WHAT and HOW. What problem are you solving?
  • Phil

    Know your numbers and the answers to key questions about your business. If you're not the absolute expert on your own business, it’s very difficult to instill confidence in investors. Don’t forget to explain the business, at its most basic level, as you would to a 4th-grader, before getting into all the minutiae; you don't want to be 10 minutes into a pitch and realize the investor still doesn’t know what your company actually does.
  • Daniel

    Less is more. Focus on the critical architecture in your pitch, and let the investor lean in and draw out the detail from you in a dynamic, two-way discussion.