How do you think about early-stage investing at Gelt?
When you’re pre-product or pre-launch, it’s “Can they build it?” And then, “Are they a baller? Will they be able to just get this thing out into the world?” There are many different questions that you can ask and things that somebody can tell you, but it just depends on what the product is and the problems they’re solving. At seed, it’s a lot of can the co-founders attract excellent talent? If it’s Series A, can they sell it to some people? Can you hire people to help sell it? If it’s Series B, can you copy and paste and sell it a hundred, 500 more times? Can I get a 3x to 5x return on my investment over the next couple of years?
In general, you’re just trying to convince an investor that it’s going to work. Sometimes a VC is not interested in what you’re doing. As a founder, when you’re raising money, all you’re really trying to do is convince investors that if they give you money, they will at some point give them a lot more back.
That’s the secret of raising money as a founder. You have to get VCs and investors interested, and sometimes you change one line about your story and it just clicks with someone.
Do you have any advice on how to get into VC?
Pretend you’re a VC. If you want to reach out to a VC and they like investing in agriculture and blockchain, then say, “Hey, here’s a company and they’re growing tomatoes on the blockchain. Here are all the founders and here’s the traction they have. I would invest personally if I could. And I can introduce you to them.” Figure out what companies you would invest in and then help other investors you might want to work with. Maybe a person says, “Wow, over the past three months she’s sent us a lot of really good companies. I want to hire her so she keeps doing this.”
The best people are going out and making things happen. They’re not waiting for permission. If you’re trying to be a VC, I think having that in your DNA helps you identify the best founders who build the best companies.
How much of your success do you credit to your Twitter audience?
Probably all of it flowed from it in some capacity. Pretty much everyone I’ve met in the tech ecosystem has been either a first, second, or third-order Twitter effect. It’s probably been three years since I started tweeting more.
I’ll go through a spurt of a month where I crank out some really good tweets, and then I have another month where I don’t really tweet that much because I have a lot of stuff going on, but I’m always paying attention to it. It’s compounding over time. I’m trying to talk about the interesting things I think will be important in the future.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I quit my job 15 or 16 months ago. I had a stable job working as an institutional investor making. We had a rental property we owned that gave us some cash flow and owned the house we were living in. I quit that job to work part-time for a venture firm based in San Francisco. I wasn’t making enough to pay my rent, so we sold both the house we lived in and the rental property.
I met my partners at Gelt about two years ago, and I ended up teaming up with them to raise the fund, and now I’m not burning cash anymore, but I’m not accumulating any cash either. I’m slowly keeping my head above water, if that. It was a big risk at first. It’s hard to quit your job and take an 80% pay cut when there’s no promise.
What do you think the future of software is?
It blends more with our daily life. For example, everybody talks about no-code. Let’s say you’re designing a video game. Instead of going to your designer or communicating with your engineering team, you can do some of that on your own in the browser.
In the future, whether it’s 5 years or 20 when we have smart glasses that it just blends in with our daily life. You hold up an apple, and it can probably tell if the apple is ripe or not, or you have a watch on your wrist that’s reading your heart rate and telling you that you should go to the hospital. Everything will be impacted by software.