Let’s Start Up - Issue 39 | Normalizing failure
POV: You're a founder building a startup
Hi there 👋 Welcome to Let’s Start Up a newsletter, curated by me, Janine Sickmeyer, a tech founder turned investor. Follow me as I share startup tips, industry news, founders you should know, and investors putting their money where their mouth is.
What's In This Issue 🗞
A brief look into what you'll be reading about
Celebrating people for trying
Little ways to focus on your mental health this Summer
Hot news in venture and startups
Two emerging fund managers to watch out for
What's On My Mind 💭
I’ve been thinking…
Failure is normal. Especially in entrepreneurship.
So what if we embrace failure and normalize struggles as entrepreneurs? What if we celebrated our peers for trying and not kick them when they’re down?
The reality is that failure actually means you’re on the path to success. Without it, you wouldn’t grow. You couldn’t identify your weaknesses and wouldn’t learn how to make better decisions.
In this industry, failure happens even more than you think. That’s hard to swallow when you’re an emerging fund manager or founder, but it’s a reality that we have to consider. During this difficult climate, we’ve seen more layoffs and other efforts to stay lean by venture capital firms & startups.
Starting a company is hard, lonely, and super stressful. People play it cool and won’t admit it, but you never know what is going on behind closed doors. Mark Suster is asking that we give more empathy to founders and funders who struggle.
The humiliation and depression that Mark Suster talks about in his thread is real. I’ve been there and it feels like you’re stuck in a deep cave and can’t get out. Founders and EFMs, especially those who are overlooked, are criticized harshly in public for their mistakes and failures.
Right now, we will be experiencing a lot of layoffs, shutdowns, terms sheets canceling, LP checks defaulting, and companies downsizing. We need to band together to support our peers and friends in the startup world. Give people grace.
Jason Calacanis talked about this on his podcast, This Week in Startups, and he was spot on. “Running a venture capital firm is really, really hard and we don’t dunk people in a brutal market like this.” While failure can and sometimes will happen, let’s take a piece of advice from Jason going into the second half of the year: Be resilient, keep doing the work, and keep placing the bets.
If you’re struggling right now in your business or generally feeling the weight of it all, take time to rest, reach out to someone (email me here, I’m happy to talk!), and keep your head up. It won’t last forever even if it feels like it.
What I’ve Been Working On 💁🏻♀️
Things I care about that I want to share
To Relax Outside of Work This Summer, Rethink Your Workday
This Summer got off to a rocky start. Disconnecting during this time might seem impossible, but there is a lot of good in relaxing and avoiding doom scrolling. While there aren’t a lot of things you can control, you can rethink your workday to make more time for yourself and the activities you enjoy. I was quoted in this article about being direct about what you want, which drew inspiration from this Tweet.
MomPreneurship, Let's Normalize It Via a Convo With Founder & VC Janine Sickmeyer
As many of you might already know, I’m a mother to four kids (1 set of twins). Being a mom, entrepreneur, and investor can be tricky. Though, it’s important that we normalize MomPreneurship and encourage women who want to start a business to do the thing! I’m joining Kabila Conversations on Thurs. July 7th at 11am ET to share advice and normalize MomPreneurship.
Recently Hit the Stands 📰
Things in the news you should check out
Funding the Future of Venture Capital
Acrew Capital, a bay area firm, is defining the future of venture capital with two funds; one focused on early-stage startups and the other on growth-stage companies. In efforts to fund the future of venture capital, Acrew Capital is partnering with Concrete Rose Capital to launch the Acrew & Concrete Rose Super Angel Program. This program will help bring more diversity into the investing space. The inaugural cohort is 90% Black or LatinX and 50% are women.
Kinly Raises $20 Million For New Black Banking App
After raising $20 million in venture capital over two fundraising rounds, Kinly, a new banking platform aimed at serving Black customers, is live! Kinly is a neobank with no brick-and-mortar branches. The benefits Kinly offers account holders are free access to Allpoint ATMs, no overdraft fees, up to 2-day early paycheck access, and a financial education component. Learn more about Kinly and the big-name investors who backed Kinly.
Drive Capital Raises $1 Billion to Fund Midwestern Startups
Columbus Ohio based firm Drive Capital, founded by Chris Olsen and Mark Kvamme, raised another $1 Billion to invest in startups outside of Silicon Valley. With this new fund, Drive Capital now has $2 Billion in assets under management. Companies that Drive Capital has invested in include Root Insurance and Duolingo, both of which have recently exited.
Atlanta food waste management startup Goodr raises $8M Email Facebook
Goodr, a food rescue startup based in Atlanta and founded by Jasmine Crow, raised $8 million in funding, making it the largest investment round since the company started in 2017. Goodr picks up edible food waste from businesses and delivers it to a local non-profit. They also provide solutions for recycling inedible food items.
Why Africa is defying global trends in VC funding
Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of articles have been written about the decline in venture capital dollars invested in the U.S. However, other parts of the world are showing strong growth, especially in Africa. Africa database The Big Deal found that Africa was the only region to experience three-digit growth in venture capital investing at 150%. Read this article to learn more about Africa’s thriving startup and venture ecosystem.
Coalition wants to make more women operators and investors at the same damn time
Coalition, a fund and operator network designed to increase diversity on the cap table, recently launched. Led by Glossier VP of Communications Ashley Mayer, Cityblock Health co-founder Toyin Ajayi, Umbrella co-founder Lindsay Ullman, and Tribe AI co-founder Jackie Nelson, Coalition is a $12.5 million investment vehicle. The fund also is piloting a new economic model alongside two LPs in the fund to bring more diverse operators into investment deals.
Lisa Burton O’Toole SM ’09, PhD ’13 is a data scientist, business founder, and VP at HearstLab. At HearstLab, Lisa evaluates and invests in startups led by women in media, data, technology, and finance. Lisa and her team are working to close the funding gap for women entrepreneurs. Investing in women founders isn’t charity - it pays off. Lisa presents research that shows female-led teams see 2.5x higher returns than male-led teams.
FirstCheck, Female-Focused Venture Capital Firm, Secures $2m Commitment from TLcom Capital
FirstCheck Africa is a Nigeria-based venture capital firm that invests in high-growth, technology-driven startups led by women. The firm announced a $2 million commitment from TLcom Capital, an Africa-focused VC firm. FirstCheck capital now has $12 million in its debut fund and will invest up to $250k as the first check.
How to Raise $1 Million in Capital, According to a Founder Who Did It
Latines have more than $1.7 trillion in purchasing power, making them an economic driver in the U.S. Latines are also entrepreneurial, starting a business at 34% higher than the national average. Despite these numbers, Latines only secure 2% of venture capital dollars in 2021. In this article from Refinery29 and the L-Suite, Lyanne Alfaro writes about the reasons for the funding gap, and how founder Brittany Chavez successfully raised $1 million in the capital.
The House Financial Services Committee's Task Force held a hearing on ‘combating tech bro culture’
On Thursday, a US congressional hearing on "combating tech bro culture" in the venture capital world took place featuring some of the biggest names in startups and venture capital such as Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, and Marceau Michel, founder of Black Founders Matter. The committee staff writes that "the majority of that investment has been directed towards White and male-founded companies.” During the hearing, the committee discussed policy tools that could help women and minority-owned businesses receive more VC investment. Read these articles from Forbes and The Register to learn more about the event.
A Little Birdie Told Me 🐦
Tweet of the moment
Hot Take of the Week 🔥
Somebody had to say it
Fund Founders You Should Follow 👀
Investor edition! Keep an eye on these investors making moves
Eunice Ajim | Ajim Capital
Eunice Ajim is a Cameroonian-American Tech Entrepreneur and Investor. Before starting Ajim Capital, a $10M pre-seed & seed-stage fund investing in 40-50 tech startups across Sub-Saharan Africa, Eunice founded two startups; OpenTeams and DataGig. Eunice is also an angel investor in startups led by African founders. I had the pleasure of meeting Eunice IRL at Collision Conference in Toronto last week after communicating via email and Twitter DMs. She has so much spark and is doing great things with Ajim Capital. If you’re an Africa-based startup seeking capital, apply on the Ajim Capital website. And if you’re interested in funding Africa’s future alongside Ajim Capital, express interest in becoming an LP.
Paige Finn Doherty | Behind Genius Ventures
Paige Finn Doherty is Founding Partner at Behind Genius Ventures (BGV), a next-gen VC Fund investing in product-led growth companies at the pre-seed/seed stage in the Future of Work and Play. Behind Genius Ventures is currently raising its fund II. If you’re interested in joining BGV as a limited partner, visit their website. In addition to co-leading a venture fund, Paige organizes angel syndicates, is the author of Seed to Harvest, and hosts a podcast. Paige is making investing easier to understand by providing education resources for all! So thankful to have her in the ecosystem, shaping the next generation of funders.
Deadline to Apply 📆
Opportunities and events you don’t want to miss
Founder.University by Jason Calacanis
Jason Calacanis has extended his 2-day Founder.University event to a 12-week course! In this course, you will build an MVP, get your first users, and possibly a $25k investment. The course is $700 but you’ll get a refund at the end if you attend all the sessions. The next cohort starts July 1st, but you can also apply for the 4th and 5th cohorts taking place later this year and early 2023!
Serena Williams at Black Tech Week
A huge announcement was just made - Serena Williams will be the keynote speaker at Black Tech Week with Lightship Capital. There are so many other AMAZING speakers attending the event too; I can’t even name them all. Sign up for the event at blacktechweek.com.
New on the Founders Library! 📚
Founder resources from Cobble
In this section, we’re sharing articles, downloads, and more from Cobble’s Founders Library. These materials are FREE, all you have to do is sign up for a Cobble account.
Download: Freelancer/Consultant Invoice Template
As a freelancer or consultant, invoicing your clients is a key activity for your business. While there are many ways to send invoices using online software or payment portals, nothing beats a simple professional PDF that you can email at any time. Download this Freelancer/Consultant Invoice template to send personalized and professional invoices whenever you need them.
Article: Investing in Lines, Not Dots: What Does It Mean?
If you’ve been in Startupland for a bit, you may have come across the following piece of advice: “Investors invest in lines, not dots.” Like many pieces of advice, it’s not always clear what it actually means—or how you can put it to work for you. In this post, content contributor Jess Riegel breaks down how to put the “lines not dots” advice into practice.
Sign up for Cobble to get access to all of these resources and more (it’s free).
New Funds Announced 🚀
Recently launched venture funds
Bloomberg’s VC arm Bloomberg Beta announced two new funds: its fourth early-stage venture fund of $75 million and a new $75 million fund for additional investments in companies already a part of Bloomberg’s portfolio. Bloomberg Beta is a seed fund focused on the future of work, especially machine intelligence, led by Roy Bahat.
Sequoia Capital is raising $2.25 Billion for two new funds, which they are calling sub-funds. Sequoia Capital introduced sub-funds after changing the structure for U.S. and European markets.
Visible Hands, a firm investing in overlooked founders, launched with its $10.5 million debut fund. Visible Hands is based in Boston and founded by Yasmin Cruz Ferrine. Visible Hands also offers a 14-week accelerator for overlooked talent to launch their startups.
MAYA Capital, founded by Lara Lemann and ****Monica Saggioro, recently closed its second fund at $100 million for early-stage Latin American startups. Based in Sao Paul, the firm will invest in another 25 to 30 companies in Latin America, with 50% reserved for follow-on funding. MAYA Capital typically leads the first check into companies, many of which are led by women founders.
What you need to know
I don’t know who needs to hear this but you don’t need a lead investor to raise money, said by Elizabeth Yin.
To make progress on your startup, Kyle Tibbitts recommends clearly defining a magical customer experience and reverse engineering the steps to get there.
Ryan Hoover answers the question: “What’s the best way to find a technical co-founder? Wondering if I should suck it up and learn to code myself.” on Twitter. TL;DR use no code tools.
It's never too late to learn something radically new. Take it from Paul Griffiths, who enrolled in an economics PhD program after selling a startup in 2020.
Hire DOERS, not talkers. Period.
Long Time Listener 🎧
Podcasts & videos you should listen to
General Partner of Calm Company Fund Tyler Tringas on Managing Fund Economics, Writing Online, and Constructing Conferences Around Building Connections | Seed to Harvest Podcast
Paige Finn Doherty, founding partner at Behind Genius Ventures and author of Seed to Harvest, interviews General Partner at Calm Company Fund Tyler Tringas. In the episode, she and Tyler talk about why Founder Summit was started and creating a venture fund model committed to sustainable growth.
Why Blck VC CEO Mandy Bynum Mc Laughlin Says Now Is An 'Amazing' Time To Invest | Forbes
Mandy Bynum is the new CEO of Blck VC, a nonprofit that works to get more resources to Black founders. In this interview at the All Raise VC Summit, Mandy Bynum speaks with Maggie McGrath about how investors can do well by doing good during difficult economic times.
Before You Go 🚪
What you might have missed.
Don’t forget to fill your cup.
Put on your Hollister jeans, studded belt, choker necklace, and take out the mix CDs, it’s time to take a drive down memory lane.
I have an ask: Can anyone connect me with badass VCs who don't have an online presence?