Fundraising, product-market fit, and Nas: Watch highlights from Eniac’s 2022 AGM
By Anthony Ha
Eniac Ventures recently hosted the 2022 edition of our Annual General Meeting, which included a public session covering topics like startup origin stories, fundraising tips, and the risk of a crypto winter.
Of course, we think the entire program (embedded right there 👇) is worth watching, but you can also check out some of the most interesting moments from each conversation below.
First, our co-founder Tim Young spoke to Dave Vasen, the founder and CEO of preschool and childcare software platform Brightwheel. The two of them recalled the Eniac portfolio company’s early days, back when it was still called KidCasa, with Dave starting out by simply putting his ideas for the product on paper, collecting feedback, then using that feedback to build an early prototype — which, by his own admission, was “not great.”
“I feel like I got some really great advice early on, which is: To get there, just start moving,” he said. “I think a lot of people spend a lot of time researching, thinking, planning, frankly building for a long time […] Product-market fit is not about getting everything right, it’s about getting something out there.”
Next, I moderated a panel with three Eniac founders — Eric Futoran, CEO of Embrace (mobile data intelligence); Yasmin Nozari, COO of Peel (automated e-commerce analytics); and Javaughn Lawrence, CEO of Drip (livestream commerce).
Each of them talked about their own fundraising experiences. Eric, whose company raised a $45 million Series B last year, said that one of his key pieces advice is to focus less on quantity and more on sequencing.
“If you try to talk to as many VCs as possible, all you end up doing is collecting ‘no’s, and then it gets harder to raise,” he said. “Your goal is to sequence — to find the people who you think are the best ones to talk to and then find an ordering and a pattern, that you can learn along the way and get the feedback […] to make sure when you get to the right investors, that you know what you’re talking about and you’re ready for them.”
Put even more simply, Eric said, “It’s more about focus, and less about numbers. If you focus, you will raise.”
Yasmin, meanwhile, recalled the long lead up to Peel’s $5.3 million seed round. She said that she and her co-founders spent a year meeting potential investors, but once they were officially ready to kick off the fundraising process, they had a small list of firms to pitch, and they had a term sheet 10 days later.
“We met so many people [beforehand],” she said. “We were dating a long time, but then we were ready to go to the next step.”
And Javaughn, a former Eniac analyst who recently announced $28.5 million in combined seed and Series A funding, urged founders to remember that “investors invest in lines, not dots.”
In other words, he explained, “As a part of that relationship-building exercise with investors, you want to bring them along for journey as much you can. Everything from what’s going fantastically well to what’s not going so well that they could potentially help you with.”
Last but not least was our session with Anthony Saleh, an investor and manager who works with some legendary musicians — including our surprise guest Nas (!!!). Together, they’ve backed some iconic startups (during the interview, Anthony said he was particularly proud of Ring), and Eniac co-founder Nihal Mehta wondered about parallels between the mentorship Nas received entering the worlds of hip hop and VC.
“It’s always been me,” Nas said. “It’s always been my plan to go. It doesn’t mean it was going to work every time I had a plan, but everything I’ve done from that point until at least a decade and change, it was majority decisions I had mad. And I didn’t have anybody to show me. I had nobody.”
They were also early investors in Coinbase, and despite all the turmoil in the crypto market, Anthony told us he’s still bullish on the industry
“It’s not sweating us much,” he said. “The good news is this: Every time there has been a real crypto winter, the BS has been weeded out. […] At the end of the day, people in tech can say whatever they want, but every single talented engineer is still running headfirst to web3. And that is the signal of all signals.”