Share your learning wish list items in the comments!
Share your learning wish list items in the comments!
On November 29 I ventured to San Francisco for 5 days. My time was great combination of work, fun, spending time with people I care about, eating great food, & exploring the city.
Tuesday I left Michigan for a brief layover in Las Vegas (my first time in Vegas & enough time to play my first slot machine). I arrived in San Fran after 9 pm Cali time & by the time I went to bed I had been awake for 23 hours straight!
Wednesday morning I walked to the office of one of our portfolio companies, Giftly. It was a beautiful walk & a great way to start the day. Sunny, crisp air, & lots of activity downtown. Giftly’s offices are a great example of a fun & open workplace. Lots of windows. Open tables. A large conference room. Dogs. & Giftly spirit. Marc (RPM Partner) & I met with Giftly CEO Timothy Bentley, & we also got a chance to meet some of the Giftly team – Dan, Mills, Nish.
After meeting with Giftly Marc & I drove down to Redwood City for an Xtime board meeting. Going from meeting with Giftly, a company at a very early stage, to meeting with Xtime, a company that is at a much different stage, was really interesting. It was quite a contrast in looking at what the key areas of focus are, where time is being spent, & what the needs & concerns of the businesses are. The board meeting went long, a result of great discussion & lots to talk about. It was dark when we left to return to San Francisco, & I had planned to go explore the city that evening, but ended up falling asleep at my hotel as soon as my head hit the bed. The results of a long & full day!
Thursday morning I went for a run around the city. I stayed in the Chancellor Hotel on Powell Street in Union Square & for my run I decided to go to Lombard & make a big loop. That put me going straight uphill for the first part of my run. Great workout – definitely challenging!
After my morning run I got ready & headed out to walk to my first meeting of the day…a early stage company located on Townsend Street. It was between a 1 & 1.5 mile walk. I stopped at Bio (aka Crepe o Chocolat) on O’Farrell Street to pick up a morning snack. I got some soup (so I could drink it as I walked) & some chocolate. They had a lot of sweets to choose from, as well as juices & tea. I was not impressed by the service. In fact, it almost drove me away to stop by Starbucks or another cafe instead. *Note: I am a customer service snob.* I was in a hurry though, so I grabbed my food & was on my way. I enjoyed walking & seeing the city by foot. On my way I saw a billboard for Huddle. Billboards for tech companies…a sign of the times. The meeting went well – another example of an early stage company with a cool office vibe. Less open environment, like Giftly, but the team was friendly & there was a lot of windows. No dogs, that I saw.
After that meeting I took a cab to a board meeting near the Embarcadero. The cab driver that took me from point A to B was the first cab driver I have ever met that actually knew about venture capital. Only in San Francisco.
The board meeting for Mirror.me went well. I enjoy working with this company because it’s early & there’s still a lot to figure out. Lots of creation & lots of opportunity for my involvement. If you haven’t figured it out already, working with the portfolio is one of my favorite things about working at RPM.
After the board meeting, Tony (RPM Partner) & I headed to visit with a friend & entrepreneur at his office. Marc met us there, so it was like we were meeting back in Ann Arbor…except in San Francisco in a beautiful office with glass tables, lots of windows, well decorated, & great location. Drool. It was so great to catch up, meet the folks there, & then visit more across the street at Rickhouse.
That evening I went to dinner with two friends at Anchor & Hope on Minna Street. I honestly don’t remember what exactly I got to eat…I know I had a salad first & then a nice filet of fish served over sautéed brussel sprouts. Tasty!
Friday morning I went for a longer run through the city. It was one of those great mind-clearing, thinking type runs that I didn’t even listen to music during the run. I soaked up the San Francisco sun, thought about life, & breathed heavily going up hills! After my run I checked out of my hotel & headed to meet a friend for lunch. We went to Paladar, a Cuban restaurant on Kearny St. So tasty! My friend & I shared Mariquitas & Mojo (house made plantain chips with garlic dipping sauce). I got a Five Green Salad & Yuca Al Mojo (yuca with garlic, lime, & olive oil). My friend got Ensalada de Camarones (shrimp salad sandwich). After lunch I walked around a little bit & then parked at Starbucks for the afternoon to get some work done. I find that I am more productive working in coffee shops than I am in an office. Not sure why.
That evening I met a friend & fellow University of Michigan alum at Nook for Happy Hour, followed by an improv show at Un-scripted on Sutter St. We saw “A Tale of Two Genres”, a play on Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” & the genre they did it in was the movie “Cocoon” (a movie my friend & I have not seen). It was pretty good. Long-form. I prefer short-form (think SNL skits). Still a great time & great visiting with my friend!
Saturday morning I made my way to the Ferry Building (I walked from Hyde Street, so about 1.5 to 2 miles, with my suitcase & backpack. It was a trek, but such a great walk through Chinatown & the Financial District. Chinatown was pretty cool in the morning…so much activity! A huge contrast from the dead Financial District. Right before getting to the Ferry Building I encountered the Occupy San Francisco there. Huge! Biggest one I’ve seen yet.
The Farmer’s Market was happening at the Ferry Building. Incredible! So much fresh produce, locally made products, & unique California treats from walnuts to persimmons. I got an apple, some plums, some persimmons, a pomelo (looks like a big grapefruit), some dried fruit & California walnuts, & other treats. and of course I sampled all sorts of tasty treats!
I met a friend & fellow UofM alum & we explored the market & Ferry Building shops. Blue Bottle Coffee had long lines the entire morning! We grabbed lunch at Ferry Plaza Seafood. We split a dungeness crab (we asked for a small one, but check out the size of that sucker!) & a steamed artichoke (one of my must have’s when I go to California). The crab was so fresh – it came straight from the boat & didn’t even make it to a tank before our table.
Then I made my way to my second lunch at The Slanted Door with some friends. Still full from my first lunch I got a Grapefruit & Jicama salad with candied pecans. Pretty good. Fancy place. Glad I experienced it though.
The rest of the day I explored with a friend the Ferry Building & the Mission area. In the Mission we went to Bi-Rite Creamery, where I got chocolate coconut dairy-free ice cream & a strawberry pineapple popsicle. We also went to Tartine where I picked up some treats for my friends/hosts that night.
That night I went to dinner with some other friends at A16 on Chestnut St. in the Marina. Very tasty Italian food, but most importantly it was a great time visiting with friends!
Post-dinner I made my way to my friend’s apartment & we visited for awhile before going to bed. I called up an Uber in the morning & headed to the airport for a long day of travel. I was impressed with Uber. The cab promptly arrived & the service was great. And it was so convenient to pay via credit card before getting in the cab. The morning was beautiful making it even more challenging to leave “The Golden State”
Thanks to my friends & RPM for making my time in the Bay Area great!
I found a penny today (heads up), so if it is lucky maybe I will be in California again soon!
MEL aka Venture Gal
Why was Defrag awesome?
If you’re really interested in learning more, contact me & we can chat more about what I learned!
The Tech Community
Will I be back to Boulder? Yes. Will I ever live in Boulder? Possibly. I’d put it in my top 3 places I’d like to live in the U.S. (from the ones I have visited so far).
The past couple weeks have been like a meeting marathon….in a relay marathon though. Momentum builds up as you prepare for the big day (ie your turn to run) and then when it’s there your running as fast as you can, trying to do everything in your power to perform your best (ie you’re running). As you finish the meeting the adrenaline still remains for a bit, but the momentum dies down and your energy slowly fades (ie you just finished your leg of the race and you handed the baton to the next runner) and once the entire race is over the entire team debriefs (ie celebrates & gets a massage) and is on to the next challenge.
I make that analogy because it does resemble this time of year at RPM Ventures. In October we held our annual meeting and earlier this week we held our advisory board meeting. Both are important but serve different purposes. The former to update our investors and the latter to well…get advice.
In a previous post I explained why I enjoy our annual meeting! In fact, I compared them to Christmas (I like the marathon relay a bit better). Besides the points mentioned there, I also learn a lot at the annual meeting. This year I was caught red handed taking lots of notes (part of my job, but also to record all the nuggets of wisdom). Here are some of the things I learned and was reminded of at this year’s annual and advisory meetings:
RPM’s annual meeting was a little over a week ago. I love our annual meeting at RPM Ventures for a few key reasons:
1. It is a busy time at the office which means there is lots of activity and things to do.
2. It is a group project. The entire team at RPM works together to make the annual meeting possible – all doing whatever it takes to reach our end goal. Spending an entire day brainstorming, planning, executing is very energizing!
3. I get to solve problems in the heat of the moment. Sometimes there’s a last minute hiccup or something wasn’t as expected and needs to change (e.g. table placement, missing name tag, whatever). Though these often are minuet details, the small problems still require creative thinking quickly.
4. The meeting itself. Meeting new people and seeing people I didn’t see since the year before. So many of our attendees are amazing people with incredible stories and wisdom to share.
5. The end result. Seeing all our hard work pay off is a great way to spend a day =)
Next up – advisory meeting & quarterly responsibilities.
This past week I decided to ignore my Google Reader RSS feed. That’s right. No news. For an entire week. Mostly this was an experiment in productivity and time management. Though I don’t spend tons of time reading the news, I find it to be distracting. Especially since I use an RSS feed, reading the news becomes a game in a sense. Whenever I see a new article I must clear it out.
I have set up my RSS feed so to make it quicker to skim through headlines and then just self select articles I’d like to dig into deeper.
This week was different though. I didn’t visit my Google Reader. I didn’t read the WSJ. Guess what?! The world didn’t end. I may not know every company that received funding this week and what their valuation was via TechCrunch or Mashable. Or news about acquisition announcements. I survived. The only news I consumed was that which was shared by others. I got the idea to go on a “news diet” from Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Work Week. My life is just fine without reading the news every day.
Now, the stack of WSJ are still in my office. And the unread articles in my Google Reader did not just magically disappear. Will I press the “Mark all as Read?” and start back at the present with my news reader? Or will I play catch up with all I missed out on last week? I’ll probably catch up on a few things, but mostly I will just forgo that week of news.
This is a great example of an experiment with habit changes. It can be daunting and difficult to imagine a new routine or go cold turkey with something you do everyday. I enjoy reading the news, and don’t think I need to go cold turkey all the time. But I can cut out the RSS game and read through to stay in the loop…making sure I know when some folks with an idea on a napkin raise $30 million with an absurdly high valuation.
Venture on. Venture on,
Board meetings are these mystical events that happen regularly, where all the investors in a company meet with the CEO and key leaders and discuss what is going on with the company.
A few rules of thumb for board meetings (for entrepreneurs):
1. All the work happens between board meetings
2. Be kind to your investors’ analyst, include data in your deck
3. There are no rules of thumb
Out of the board meetings I have been to no two have really been the same. It depends on what is going with the company, what type of company it is, the stage, size, investors.
Some board meetings are more exciting and engaging than others. Some lead investors to get bored at the board meeting. Signs of this are…well think of what you did in class when you were bored.
MEL aka Venture Gal
Exercise & get ready for work
Go to RPM
Eat breakfast and catch up on news
Open up “My Project Dashboard” and look at my top priorities for the day
Open up our portfolio model
That’s all you get to know. Because what happens at the partners meetings stays at the partners meetings.
The title of this post is misleading because if you raise money, from anybody, expect to meet/speak with them.
This may seem obvious, but it’s not always well understood. Whether you raise money from your parents or a venture capital firm you can expect that your investor will want regular updates. With your family investors, you may have conversations around the dinner table about the company, or you may get a call every day, asking about how the business is progressing.
When an entrepreneur takes venture investment, there will be board meetings. Even successful entrepreneurs that raise money regularly meet with their investors, so there is no reason why a first time CEO would not have regular meetings. And believe it or not, meeting with your investors can actually be quite valuable (depending on who your investors are). In particular,
If you don’t like an investor enough to have a conversation/meeting with her/him, then it’s probably not a good investor/investee relationship to begin with. Think of it this way, would you date someone you never wanted to see? Just saying…
As a VC analyst I am fortunate to get to meet/speak with the companies RPM has invested in and get a regular update about how things are going with the company. On the flip side, VCs also report back to their investors, so part of my job involves putting together written reports to our investors (aka LPs/Limited Partners) and preparing for our meetings.
Bottom line: No one is too good to receive advice or help from their investors.
MEL aka Venture Gal