Eurie Kim on how to build a proper venture portfolio

Eurie Kim on how to build a proper venture portfolio

Author: The Carta Team
Read time:  25 minutes
Published date:  December 9, 2021
On a live episode of the 20VC podcast, Forerunner’s Eurie Kim talks about how the firm thinks about building its team and portfolio of consumer-focused startups.

It’s been a banner year for startups and venture investors alike. VCs are raising record amounts of money from LPs, and startups are happily securing funding at outsized valuations. “It’s been an enthusiastic 12 months,” says Eurie Kim, partner at Forerunner Ventures. “I think we’ve made 20 core investments and five or six smaller investments on top of that.”

The flurry of activity brings up unique challenges. What’s the best way to stay true to your diligence process, while also keeping pace with the market? How flexible do investors need to be with verticals of interest? When should VCs invest at a valuation that seems high and when should they back away? For Eurie and Forerunner, it’s a constant balance of staying true to a consumer-based thesis and staying adaptable to changing market conditions. Eurie spoke to host Harry Stebbings in a live episode of the 20VC podcast at the 2012 Carta Equity Summit.

This transcript has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Harry:Eurie, it’s such a joy to do this. We’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, so thank you so much for joining me today! I’d love to start with some context. How did you make your way into the world of venture? And how did you come to Forerunner, forming one of the preeminent early-stage firms of the past decade? 

Eurie:Sounds great. Well, thank you for having me again, Harry. I got into venture nearly a decade ago in early 2012, just as my partner, Kirsten Green, was raising Forerunner’s first institutional fund. It was a $41.6 million fund, which at the time was officially considered a seed fund, when that was still like a very new and novel thing.

The reality is, our ambitions were always set on building an early-stage firm that was broader than what existed in the market, really looking to address the wide space that was beginning to emerge from the generational change that was happening in and around the consumer, largely due to the proliferation and the penetration of digital in our lives. It’s been a decade here at Forerunner.  Prior to that, I spent my career in investing on the private equity side, all in consumer retail, as well as many years at Bain & Company, helping larger companies think about their consumer and consumer insights.

Just as there are distinct stages in the growth of a startup that require leadership change and certain spikes in certain areas for each phase, I think the same thing goes for firm building and venture. In the beginning, the biggest challenge for us was probably proving out that our focus was a real focus. That commerce and the evolving consumer was a big enough investment thesis to drive top tier venture returns.

I literally remember making a 60-slide deck for fund three back in 2016 where I had to explain how commerce was a thing—that it wasn’t just about glasses or shoes or stuff, but it’s what people buy, it’s where they buy, it’s how they buy. But I had to do this whole presentation for LPs who questioned whether consumer was going to be a big enough opportunity set for a whole firm to be built on. That was a lot of our early days.

And aside from that, neither Kirsten nor I grew up in venture the way that many investors did at the time. Early days we were proving out our ability to have differentiated access to the founders, abilities to win deals, of course, and the ability to add value at a boardroom level. 

Proving out your venture model

Harry:When did that LP recognition of the importance of the consumer change? Was it an IPO of a particular company? Was it a big exit, a big round? Was there some moment when you felt it changed and they got it?

Eurie:Fund III was an interesting timeframe because we raised it in the summer of 2016, but Dollar Shave Club and both had exit events about three weeks prior to the close of the fund. We didn’t say anything about those deals, because they were not announced, and they were not like a hundred percent done. So imagine trying to tell LPs, don’t worry. I think it’s going to be okay. You should still back us.

And even after that, there were further questions around, “Oh, these are amazing outcomes, but is that it? Is that all there is? Or are there going to be tens of hundreds of opportunities in this field?” It’s the evolution of firm building, but I think by Fund IV, but your investors, your LPs begin to trust you, and understand that you’re going to continue evolving your thesis alongside the market.  And that’s really what we were saying all along. When we said “consumer,” people thought “shoes.” And what we were saying is the consumer is everywhere.

Chime, which is a neobank, was in fund one. HotelTonight, which was one of the earliest marketplaces for real-time purchases and last-minute purchases—that was in Fund I. So I think that it was really helping people understand the definition of what consumer entailed. And I think now you even realize many of the SaaS businesses out there could be construed as consumer, because it’s all of us sitting in a room at work using these products and using these services. It has been an evolving process to get everyone’s head around it. But I would say by fund four, we stopped having to make decks about it.

Team culture and construction

Harry:I spoke to Doug Leone and he said when it came to culture, Sequoia is a team, it’s not a family. And I thought that was a very interesting statement. So I thought it’d be interesting to hear, when you think about culture building today with Forerunner and how it’s been over the last decade, how did you think about the type of culture that you wanted to create and reflect on that?

Eurie: That’s so interesting. I wonder if you kind of pushed Doug, what he meant about that, because we actually say the opposite. We say Forerunner is a family. It’s a family of our own team. It’s a family of our founders and all of the people that work in and around our ecosystem, and certainly our LPs as well, and I think that’s the feeling we want.

Harry: Doug said they have 10 tenets, but number one is performance. And if you don’t have number one, nothing else matters.

Eurie:  Let me push on that, because performance requires a lot of things to come together. And I would actually say one of the challenges for venture firms is that it’s not a lone wolf sport. You can’t succeed if you find the deal and you have to do every single thing to help your one company. There are a lot of people on your team that are involved. If you only incentivize individuals, eg: you find the deal, you get your performance, you have the marks, then why would you help me? If you had a great CFO candidate that you knew would be amazing for one of my companies, and it was my company versus your company, you’d just sit on it. And you’d say, “Well, I’m going to save this CFO candidate for my own company. That’s how I’m going to get my marks.”

At Forerunner we always said, “There’s not your deal, or my deal.” There’s so many times where if we didn’t have everybody working together to support one of our best companies, then that company wouldn’t have the experience that they did at Forerunner. And as a result, maybe we wouldn’t get the next deal. We wouldn’t be able to continue to build our reputation. Obviously Sequoia is way, way further along in terms of their firm building and reputation building. And so maybe at that stage, it really just is flat-out performance.

But I think where we are, it is about the team. How do entrepreneurs come to Forerunner? And not just say, “If it’s not Eurie, I’m not coming here.” That would be a disaster. Because what if I just did a deal and I didn’t have bandwidth? And so you didn’t want to work with my partner, or you didn’t want to work with my team? That just wouldn’t be the benefit of having the whole Forerunner  mojo coming together. We’ve thought a lot about that.

And I would also say that firm culture, or culture in general, tends to be something that comes out of great people leadership. And being a great venture investor never had anything to do with being a great people manager. So, many firms have really crappy cultures because there aren’t leaders out there that care about what it takes to invest in apprenticeship, to teach, to learn, to be able to have a safe place to do what you need to do when you’re growing in the industry. But they also are kind of like, “Well, I did it myself, so why do I need to be giving you all of these tips?”

It’s just an evolving process. But we always knew we wanted to build a firm, not a fund. We invested in a great team from the beginning. 

Setting the right values

Harry:You said a really interesting word there. You said “safe place,” because I don’t think many venture firms with their decision making tables are safe places. There’s insecurity and there’s fear, and a lot of the things that make venture firm’s cultures so challenging.

How do you think about creating a safe place where people can say, “My company’s really not doing well and we’re struggling on this, this, and this,” without other partners going, “I told you it was rubbish.” Or, “I knew that one was bad.”

Eurie: It’s the values that you build the firm on. We’ve always come from a place of sharing the wins as much as the losses, the challenges as much as the celebrations, even with our founders. We tell our founders the same thing: I don’t want to only know when you land a sale or land a candidate, but tell me about when things aren’t going well so that we can help.

And that’s the same environment that we have with our team and our partnership, which is, “If I have a challenge going on and I can’t tell Nicole and Brian and Kirsten, then how will I know if they’ve already experienced something similar? How will I know if they have that perfect resource that we can use at our company that they’ve already used at their companies?” And so that’s the team environment that I think really makes us stronger is that we can share best practices across all of our experiences and not have to be individual islands just working near each other, which I think some firms have a tendency to do.

Especially since we have built our core thesis around consumer perspectives, it doesn’t make sense for us not to value our associates or analysts on the team, because they are the consumer.

We had three new team members join earlier this year. Fawzi [Itani] is actually really into gaming, really into metaverse, really into Web 3.0. So, poor soul, he’s got to sit there and do an hour-long session with me to get my MetaMask set up and my Rainbow Wallet and all of my Ethereum transferred over. And I mean, that is fun for us. It’s a way for him to be able to share with me some of his learning and vice versa.

I think about the opportunities in those new environments with an eye towards what we’ve already learned and where our strengths are. We’re not going to become straight-up crypto investors, but we do want to think about new ideas and learn alongside the newest, freshest thinkers on the team.

And so I think that it’s a cultural decision. If people are afraid to speak up, you just saying, “Hey, speak up” is not going to work. You actually have to want to hear that person’s thoughts. And I think that always comes from leadership.

Empowering your team

Harry: As you expand the team, how do you prevent yourself from being the bottleneck on decision-making? You have very talented people finding great deals, but not everyone’s a check writer, and decision-making sits with fewer people. One thing that I struggle with is how do I prevent myself from being the bottleneck at the top? How do you think about that?

Eurie:I think it depends on where your firm is in its life cycle. For us, there’s still a lot of portfolio design and management that we think about. And so some deals may not totally make sense to newer members of the team because they don’t understand the context of what chess pieces we’re putting into play to be able to make a whole portfolio sing.

That’s actually a difference between just being a venture investor and then being a firm builder. It’s not just one investment, it’s not even just one portfolio, but it’s a series of portfolios that adds up to a body of work. And so that’s something that, again, goes into that apprenticeship. If we share that that mentality is important to us, then other members of the team will continue to learn that and start to absorb it as they look at new deals.

But many times, getting excited about a deal in a vacuum is never going to be the winning sort of, “Yes. Now you should go do that deal.” That’s not the direct answer to that. It’s really just having our team meetings on Monday, where everybody presents their set of companies that they’re excited about, what they think the recommendations are, and to really empower ownership over the process.

And then if someone was just hell bent on a deal and they came in and said, “If we don’t make this investment, this is like the dumbest miss in the history of Forerunner,” of course we would say, “Wow, that’s a pretty strong recommendation there. We’ll give that some thought.” But what you’ll find is that the more you push, people start to back up off of their thoughts. And so my goal as a coach on our team is to train the strength of your opinions, and why. “Why are you recommending that we do more work here? What are you looking for, and what is that decision going to be that either makes or breaks the deal?” And that’s a practice situation. It’s a mentality.

Harry: It is. The practice also for me is not to push back too much, too hard to the extent that they just cower too quickly and they don’t stand up for it. It’s a fine art to get them to stand up for it without just running them over.

Eurie: And if you don’t tell them why you thought it was a no, that’s not fair because that’s not learning, right? If it’s, “Hey, here’s why business models like this can be challenged,” or, “Here’s why this deal setup is going to be challenging for us,” then you’re always sort of externally processing such that more people could learn. But every time we say, “OK, here’s all the litany of reasons why we would say no to a certain deal,” the next week a partner will bring in something that looks very similar and will do that deal. And it can be demotivating, because you’re like, “Well, why does that deal look any different?” But if you really piece it out, there’s a lot of nuances to why one deal will get over the line and why some may not.

The evolution of a venture firm and investor

Harry: How do you retain mental plasticity with each deal? And what I mean by that is, me and you both invest in many, many companies and you see spaces continuously don’t work and you’re like, “Oh, I’m never going to invest in that.” But actually the next one could. How do you retain that mental plasticity either with success or failure that each new opportunity is a fresh one?

Eurie:Yeah. That’s a great question. I think we should go back and ask Doug that one, because when you’ve been in the seat for decades, to see cycles upon cycles, you can start to understand why something is different today that two years ago, the environment was not as ripe for this type of company to come to life.

For example, take the fintech world. Back in the day, when Chime started, everything needed to be built from scratch. Now you’ve got APIs upon APIs upon APIs, and we’ve made an investment that is yet unannounced, but an investment where, if you looked at the product roadmap of all the features that are spinning up, my initial reaction would be, “Well, I’ve got one company that’s pretty successful, that took 10 years to do that. Why do you think you can do it in 10 months?” And the answer is just, there’s different resources today.

And the consumer is ready today for something that they would not have been ready five years, 10 years ago for. But I think the benefit is just having that question in mind when you see something and your gut reaction is to say, “Oh God, pass.” It’s, “Wait a minute. Let me just make sure that that’s, in fact, still a true sort of logical process.” And if there’s any reason to learn, take a meeting and see if the founders have learned something new about the market that you should be aware of.

Harry:Speaking of spaces changing over time, we as investors also change over time. How do you think your investment style has changed over the last decade?

Eurie:When I first started at venture, I was just trying to do good deals. So I don’t know that I could have called it a style. But now, in retrospect, I can kind of layer on what I think was the guiding principle with the things that I tended to gravitate towards.

And I would say the biggest difference is the first five to eight years were really more enthusiast categories—places where I felt like the consumer had an emotional connection to something, whether it’s a product or a service or an experience or whatever it was. Even if it was a B2B sort of company, was there something that was not transactional about it, but was just more an emotional experience?

Now, when I think about the deals that excite me, it sort of takes that enthusiast category and shifts it more towards the need, where maybe it’s because we came out of the pandemic and we’re still not quite out, I just feel this depth of how much more impact can be made with the investments that we make at Forerunner.

When you’re solving a true human need, I think that that’s the most inspirational thing you could be doing as a venture investor. Really focusing on, why are these problems absolutely necessary to solve now, versus there’s a lot of problems that can be solved, there’s a lot of investors out there that’ll solve those problems. But personally speaking, I tend to gravitate more towards those needs. 

Investing with your gut in the non-obvious

Harry:I want to talk about this, my Oura ring, in regard to impact. This has probably been the most impactful thing that I’ve brought to my life in the last, I don’t know, 24 months in terms of how I think about sleep, nutrition. And so, my issue is actually, respectfully, to me, it wouldn’t have been that obvious an investment. Original team from Finland and then, obviously Harpreet, who’s fantastic, but I think he’s in New York, hardware. Tell me, was that an obvious investment and how did it come to be?

Eurie:It was obvious to me as a consumer. It was not obvious in every other sense of the term because it was a very different profile of deal. It was also our first Series B deal out of fund four that we had made back in 2019.

Typically we back teams that have the founders still full time in the company. That was not the case here. They were retiring. The company was launched in Finland, but not yet launched in the US. They had maybe 12 people here, 10 people here, and 50 people in Finland. And so it just was all kinds of not a sweet spot Forerunner deal.

I felt so compelled by the personal experience that I had, which was my husband’s a physician, and he has a physical trainer or personal trainer who had the first generation ring, which looked like a Power Rangers ring. And I think years ago at that point, he brought it to me and was like, “Hey, what do you think? Do you want to get one of these with me? I want to get one.” And I was like, “Sure, go for it, whatever, but I’m not wearing that.” And I think it was not enthusiastic enough for him to go and get the ring, so he forgot about it. Then fast-forward another year or so, the Gen 2 ring came out and it was much slicker, slimmer. We had another friend who was a sleep psychologist who was using it, and so we just thought, “Sure, yeah.”

I think that having just had our first child, Izzy, sleep was long gone and we were so exhausted all the time that we felt like that was something we really wanted to invest in. And so we bought them. This was back in 2019— I used it for two nights and I haven’t taken it off since.

And we were obsessed with the data. Before there was really no app. It was just a bunch of data in the app. And so it wasn’t as much the insights that you get today. And within literally two nights, it was the only thing we could talk about you. You know, “What’s your sleep score, what’s your readiness score, how was your REM and the deep sleep?” I mean, at one point I literally remember waking him up and saying, “Hey, what’s your score?” And he’s like, “Eurie, I am still sleeping. Just don’t bother me right now. I’m trying to improve my score.”

But the reason it was something that I felt was a must do deal was because sleep is what you do every night. I don’t work out every day, and most people don’t work out at all, but everybody sleeps or almost everybody sleeps. And when you realize how much sleep impacts your health, which I didn’t realize until I lost sleep by having a child, and I was just crawling on the floor every single day, trying to get through my day, it just became the most important thing to solve.

I felt like if you could have a product that could help people get healthier no matter where they are, you could be Prince Harry or Jack Dorsey or all these other fancy people, or you could just be a mom who’s exhausted, and you could get one step further in your health journey and do something for yourself. And that was the feeling that I, in my stomach, felt was just so deep that, ultimately, that’s what led us to make the investment.

Harry: So you feel it in your stomach, I love it. I love that. I have to be involved with this company. I have to be involved with this product and team.

Where I struggle is then you’ll look at the customer acquisition costs (CACs), you’ll look at the lifetime values (LTVs), you’ll look at the numbers and it doesn’t match up. And so, my question to you is how much weight do you place on CAC, LTV, retention rates, everything that we can deep dive into? How much weight do you place there versus the gut reaction and does it change with cycle or with the stage of company?

Eurie: Yeah, I’d say it changes with the stage of the company. So take the Oura example right there. They had been, I think it was two million bucks a month in sales for months, but they didn’t have money for marketing. They didn’t have a marketing team. So there was no CAC to speak of. It was really all just organic, and there wasn’t really an LTV because what do you do with an LTV when you don’t have a subscription on the app. So there was no real LTV. It was just this fairly reasonable margin, one time hardware purchase, which, as any venture investor knows, is not that interesting. Just one time hardware purchase is sort of the end of the story.

But you have to believe that, over time, the data and the insights would be valuable enough for people to pay something, anything, $5, $10. You just think about how much value I was getting out of it. And I felt like that was something that could come in time and the CACs didn’t make any sense, because there was no spend to be able to understand the CAC. And so are you going to not do the deal, because the CAC doesn’t make sense? Or are you going to say, “Well, I could assume that we can sell this for X amount.”

We have this framework at Forerunner where we’d say, “What do you have to believe for this to be a good investment? What do you have to believe for the CACs to be reasonable and the LTV-to-CAC ratio to make sense?” And if you feel like it’s not that hard to believe, it’s just ahead, they’re raising ahead of proving all that out, then you need to decide how much valuation and how much room is between you and where the team wants to be. And sometimes that makes sense and it doesn’t.

How to manage investing in today’s environment

Harry: I like where your head’s at, because, let’s face it, we’re all paying for a couple of months at least ahead of time today. And I just sit there and I question myself often, where it’s a Seed $3 million round on a $30 million valuation and I’m going, “Oh my God, this is very different to when I started.” And so, my question to you is, how do you reflect and think on your own price sensitivity today, given the craziness of the pricing environment that we are in?

Eurie: I mean, if you have an answer to that, you let me know! So it’s a very timely conversation. I don’t think anyone is immune to the pricing environment that we’re in. At the same time, there could not be more opportunity today to invest in wildly new companies and new paradigms. And so our job, collectively, is to invest in innovation and invest in venture, and you have to be in the game. You have to play.

So just because things are expensive, doesn’t mean you don’t buy. You have to believe that there’s value. And so if there’s a point at which there’s no plausible way for us to see how you could catch up to a number, then we pass. But if the number is a stretch and you think that with the amount of money that they’re raising you can get to the next hurdle such that there’s another round that could ostensibly come in, then there’s a conversation to be had.

It’s a continual conversation of, for our fund, what’s the size of investment? What’s going to move the needle? You can’t really talk about ownership anymore—which any venture investor would know that it was always about ownership before—and now you kind of have to think more broadly about how you can get return on dollars.

Ultimately, you have to play the game to have any chance of winning. If you don’t believe that there’s any chance for a company to be a wild, wild market making success, then you wouldn’t invest at these prices. Every deal that comes through, we really push ourselves as a partnership to talk about this. Why is this the one to be the next? And now it’s not a billion dollar company. It’s not even $10 billion. It’s a hundred billion dollar company. And there’s not a lot of companies that are really going to get to that stage.

Harry:Speaking of that, kind of playing the game on the field, so to speak, we’ve seen the compression and deployment timelines for venture funds. Some people say to me, “Harry, play the game on the field. It’s now 12 months, you got to deploy.” Then others say, “Stick to your knitting. Be disciplined. No, you said two and a half years, do two and a half years.” How do you think about the compression fund deployments? How do you think about that with your deployment speed today at Forerunner?

Eurie:Yeah, it’s been an enthusiastic year. I think we’ve made 20 core investments and five or six smaller investments on top of that. What I would say to that is, there are a couple things at play other than just Tiger. One of them, at Forerunner at least, is we did expand our team. So we had more bandwidth, more people just functionally doing deals and doing work together. And we were all glued to our chairs here in front of Zoom for 10 hours a day, every single day, this entire year. So the processes were not limited by travel or by scheduling. Everything was going really quickly.

I think the biggest thing for us is that we had a few theses coming into the year that played out. And so if we just decided, hey, we said it was going to be a two-and-a-half-year deployment, we’re just going to pace ourselves out, there would be many deals in the portfolio that we would’ve skipped that, that ultimately, as I look at it now, each of them has a role in the story that we are telling with this whole portfolio. And, yes, it was a compressed year, but I don’t think that just waiting it out would have been a better option for us, because then you would’ve missed a lot of opportunities that really just should be in. And based on how you guys are thinking about your fund, there might be just must do deals that if you miss this, and it’s a winner, I mean, you’re in trouble, that kind of thing. And that’s the bar that we hold.

Learning from your misses

Harry:I totally agree with you. Can I ask you—we mentioned Oura and we mentioned some other massive wins that you had earlier in the fund life cycles. I think that actually you can learn a lot from the misses. When you think about a miss of yours, what’s like the miss that stays with you? How did it change your investment process, style, approach? What would that be?

Eurie:I just went on a walk with Katrina Lake a few weeks ago—Stitch Fix was actually one that I always remember, because she was raising her Series B back when we were investing out of our fund one, so that was right around 2013. And I recall thinking and talking with Kirsten very closely about it, that this was really interesting. Katrina was obviously an exceptional founder, but it was a Series B, and we were meant to be doing seeds, so we passed. Benchmark did the Series B, and four years later IPO’d.

Back in our first funder, too, it was really important to stay very disciplined, because that’s the stage at which you need to do what you say you’re going to do so that your LPs can trust you—that they understand where you’re going, and you’re not going to just start going sideways.

It was the right thing to do at the time, but in retrospect, learning from that moment, because now we just feel like there’s got to be a bit more flexibility on how you engage with a company. Sometimes that might be pre-launch at the Seed. Sometimes that might be at a Series B. At Oura, it would’ve only been a Series B because pre-launch would’ve been eight years ago in Finland and they were tinkering around with sensors. That would not have been a good place for me to invest. And so then does that mean that we should never have invested in Oura? I certainly don’t think so. I think it’s the most generation-defining company to come for the next decade. But we had this random moment of a crossover of an international company coming to the U.S. to expand. 

I think that that flexibility of mindset was something I learned and hold with me as I think through different deals and understand why the right entry point for Forerunner in a certain deal might change based on what company it is and where we are in the fund cycle. If you’re in the very early innings of your portfolio, the first two or three deals versus the last two or three deals, you might be thinking something different. So it just requires more flexibility.

It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but I think what naturally happens is with the first couple, you feel like it’s hard to start the fund. You want to do things that are in the sweet spot, where you believe your strengths to be, and it just establishes the fund where the LPs are not confused as to what you’re doing. You haven’t gone astray. You can take a few flyers, you can do a few different topical areas, but ultimately, you have the backbone of a fund that makes sense based on who you are as a team.

Towards the end, Kirsten and Brian and Nicole and I are always thinking like, what are we trying to round out? Did we do too many early things and now we’re feeling like we need some time diversity, and so something a little bit later stage would be better? Do we feel like there’s a new theme coming to market where we’d like to start to see that in this fund and then if it looks really good, we would lean into it in the next fund. It’s a bit more of a strategy around filling in the holes that you might see. It’s an evolving conversation just to say, how do you have a balanced portfolio?

Quickfire questions

Harry:I do want to do my favorite, which is a quick fire round. I see we’ve got five minutes, so it’s perfectly positioned. So I say a short statement, and then you give me your immediate thoughts. What’s your favorite book, Eurie, and why? What should we be reading this Christmas?

Eurie:Well, it’s an old book, “Man’s Search For Meaning,” and it’s worth reading. It was written back in 1946 by Viktor Frankl, who’s a psychotherapist and a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. He’s going through the pain and suffering that he experienced, refining a theory on the meaning of life, and he goes through it very beautifully. It’s a very short book, but very poignant around work when it’s creative in nature, and has a purpose that’s greater than ourselves. That work truly adds to purpose and meaning in your life, which I believe as venture investors, we absolutely have. Through love, that being in service of others is something that really does add to the purpose of life.

My mother passed away in March this year, so I read it after that, just going through a little bit of the grieving process. It was just so fascinating to understand the clarity of how much you can suffer through and how much you can do if you have purpose. You should read it. It’s a Christmas book. It’s uplifting as much as it does sound kind of depressing.

Harry:I am going to put it on the list. My mother will get it in my stocking, so that’s another thing for her to get me. Tell me, what motto or quote do you most frequently revert back to?

Eurie: Be ready. My father always said that to me and I think I actually said that to you on our last podcast, but it sounds like a fortune cookie, but the concept of being ready is always to be prepared for anything that may come. And again, in venture, you may get off this call and have another Zoom call and it’ll be the deal of a lifetime and you’ve got to be ready to make a call, and so whatever you need to do to get yourself in a mental mindset to say yes, I’m ready for anything that can come, I think is an important value to have in life.

Harry:Who’s the most memorable board member that you’ve sat on a board with, and why?

Eurie:This one’s an interesting question. There’s been so many great ones. I’m on the Farmer’s Dog board, and I remember when Insight led our Series B, Jeff Lieberman, who’s the senior partner there, came and sat in. He didn’t even take the board seat, I think he just came and joined Harley, who had led the deal. It was the first time that I was on a board that was starting to fill out with more senior investors who had just been around and advised companies in different ways, and I just marveled at the fact that he maybe said two things every four hours, and they were always the most important and the most pressing. What you’ll find is junior investors or junior board members talk a lot because they want to add value and they want to be helpful.

But I learned from that balance of being able to listen and really understand what your founders or entrepreneurs are saying and not saying such that you can be very impactful with the one or two takeaways at each board meeting.

Harry:I’m totally with you. I never say much, but I don’t know if it’s insightful when I do speak. So fingers crossed. I do want to finish on probably the most exciting thing, which is the companies we work with. When you think back to your most recent publicly announced investment, what is it? Why did you get so excited?

Eurie:That is a really difficult one to think through because many of them have not been publicly announced, but I will say the last two deals that I did that are soon to be publicly announced really go back to the theme of human needs that I talked about earlier—just really reflecting on how much suffering has happened over the last two years for so many people, whether it was politically induced, whether it was natural disasters, whether it was the pandemic.

Understanding, getting back to the core essence of what we all need to thrive and to go about our daily lives. These two investments, one in the financial services world to support banking for Black Americans, and the other one is to support the building of new personal care products for an underserved demographic, and doing it in a really unique business model way that allows for more brands to be brought to life, whereas without this business model, you probably would never see these brands come to market. 

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The Carta Team
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