Pitching to a VC 101 with Dan Ciporin (ex-General Partner at Canaan Partners) — Clubhouse Recording

September 23, 2021

Some portions were taken out to preserve privacy of audience members. Speakers in the recording include Dan Ciporin (ex-General Partner at Canaan Partners), Aakash Shah (Co-Founder of NeonVest), Surya Viswanathan (Co-Founder of NeonVest) and Guest Speaker Mark Brooks (Investment Manager at Syngenta Group Ventures).

Aakash Shah — 00:00
that about everything as it pertains to macro and micro and VC and the entrepreneurial world.

and hopefully get some wisdom for everyone into the room to benefit from.

But yeah, without further do we would love to have you intro yourself, Dan, and then we can kick it off.

Dan Ciporin — 00:16
Sure.

So, I’ll give you welcome everybody.

Thanks for joining.

It’s great to be here and great to talk to all of you and I hope we can make this a pretty interactive session.

So, feel free to raise hands or interject as appropriate or even if inappropriate.

So, in terms of background, I’ve got about 30 plus years now of technology, financial services, private investing experience.

It all started way back in the early days of, or late days I should say, the 1990s, I was the head of Mastercard’s Debit Group then.

And then the web 1.0 came about, so in 1999 I jumped headfirst into a venture-backed pre-revenue Start Up, called “shopping dot com”.

took that from zero to about 100 million of revenue in six years

got through what, back then, was a nuclear winner of at least; of consumer internet and consumer internet investment. When the Nasdaq crashed, we got through that period.

And in 2004 took the company public. And then in 2005 we sold the company to eBay.

And at that point I jumped over to the venture side of the table, if you will, and spent almost 14 years at Canaan Partners as a general partner there

and ran the FinTech practice there as well as I did a number of investments across the board in e-commerce marketplaces, tasks and so forth.

At the end of last year, I decided to retire from Canaan and jump into a very different stage of investment, for at least investment structure

and started SPAC, which is, I believe going, hopefully going public next week.

So that’s where, that’s where I am and that’s my general background.

So happy to talk to you guys about any and everything related to be an entrepreneur and the wonderful world of venture capital.

Aakash Shah — 02:25
Awesome. Thanks for that Dan.

And for everyone that kind of doesn’t know Dan, that’s a very short summary of a very illustrious career in the field, and hopefully we can dive into some of that.

That last fourth act is really interesting because I didn’t know that you were launching SPAC.

So, I would love to get into that as part of the conversation as well.

Dan Ciporin — 02:48
Sure.

Aakash Shah — 02:50
But I think we’ll kick it off with just something very pertinent at the moment, which is, what do you think of the VC markets today?

How has it changed since you first joined the industry about a decade ago.

And, and also how do you think it will evolve going forward.

I mean we’re seeing all kinds of very crazy things happening right now.

Preemptive grounds.

seeing pre-seed look like Series B.

What’s your take on VC today?

And how has it changed?

Dan Ciporin — 03:20
Well, it’s changed pretty radically. For sure. In a number of different ways.

First of all, it’s a lot more competitive,

and there’s a lot more capital.

And when I joined Canaan way back in, I guess early 2007. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, there were only, you know, in terms of institutional venture capital firms,

there were roughly somewhere around 300/350 firms out there.

There is now well over 1600/1700 firms.

And those are institutional firms.

So, you then, those don’t really count the fact that you’ve got a whole massive array of different investment vehicles like Angel List syndicates that are related to that, for example,

in other platforms where people are investing on a fractional basis if you will.

And you also have an enormous increase in the amount of Angels, that have into the market investing reactively across the board in different kinds of startup, are being found.

So, there’s a massive increase in the number of VCs, the number of investors, and the amount of capital.

It’s also becoming more professionalized in the sense that, when I got into Venture Capital, it was really, I guess I would call it an “apprenticeship business”.

You didn’t really have a clear way of, doing business, if you will, other than getting into it and investing and seeing what worked and seeing what didn’t.

And, to the extent that you were able to invest successfully in the first couple of investments you made, you stayed in the business and if you didn’t, then, then you probably didn’t.

I got very fortunate in that my first investment actually was a company called Lendingclub, which I got to at the beginning, and then became a public company and it’s still a public company.

And I sat on the board there for quite some time and then invested in a number of other pretty successful companies as well as part of my career.

So, it has become professionalized in that you now have a huge number of, I would say, traditional private equity, growth equity,

even hedge funder to capital, it’s just coming if you will kind of part of a full stack capital business.

So, it used to be that you would have, growth equity would stay, and growth equity meaning sort of late stage rounds only, you’d have private equity doing only majority investments.

Different companies, hedge funds, of course, would stay with publicly created publicly traded companies and doing trading around that and commodities and so forth.

But basically public entities.

Now, you have all those firms going into the world of Venture. They’re going way earlier than they used to.

And that also creates a lot more capital.

And I think that’s really resulted in the asset grounds that are getting pretty precisely these, you know, you now have C rounds for example that are as much as $20 or $30 million for, for a C round.

That was absolutely unheard of, when I was, when I started in Venture. I mean you had a classic C round.

It was basically a million dollars and, and so, between capital increasingly important involved in the venture capital business, if you will, it has been, you know, completely different than when I started

and I’m not sure if it will have a happy ending or not, to be candid, but you know, it’s certainly a good time to be raising money if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s just a lot of it out there.

Aakash Shah — 07:21
Yeah, no, I, I mean, I definitely agree with a lot of that sentiment. I mean, from what we’re seeing beyond us as well.

the deal flow and the types of companies that are raising and what routes are raising at, we recently spoke with the CBC, they said they were looking into companies, one was pre revenue $200 million post money valuation.

I mean you’re just; you’re just seeing very different things from what even the market looked like about five years ago. And I know that that requires also a commensurate change in mindset, change of thinking.

You can no longer kind of value things just purely off multiples because you’ll get like 20,000 extracted in multiple or something like that if you try to justify it.

And so, it’s going to be very interesting to kind of see how this plays out.

I mean you mentioned towards the end, look this this might not end well.

I mean how do you see VC changing going forward?

And what I mean by that is, you’re seeing a lot more specialist funds today.

you’re seeing data driven firms like Signal Fire, you’re seeing Sequoia kind of focus on a top-down approach but across sectors and obviously going earlier and earlier.

I mean how do you think VC as a space will evolve over the next couple of years?

Dan Ciporin — 08:47
Yeah, that’s a very interesting question.

So let me start by saying, first of all, there is some rationality behind the massive flow in capital that’s happened over the last five years in particular Inter-venture.

The rationality comes from the fact that IPOs have become something that happens usually very late, much later in the lifecycle of a company that it used to. If you look at a company like Airbnb for example, which went public last year.

that would have, that company would have gone public much earlier in days gone by, if you will.

and, and now you have the company waiting until it gets too many billions of revenues before it actually goes public.

And you, if you look at the data, you can actually see that the data is pretty clear. That a lot of the returns that were being captured and now are not being captured, they’re being captured only if you go to the company at a private stage. When it’s still private.

You know, and probably the best example of that is, you know, if you look at an Amazon or an Apple, first of all if they try to go out to be public today other than with us back.

If they try to go out with the traditional IPO process today with the numbers that they had back in the, I guess, it was the late 80s’ for Apple and 90s’ for Amazon.

If they tried to go out today with the numbers, they had then, they wouldn’t be able to.

But the investors in those IPOs made thousands of percent on their money,

and did not have to wait for the company to go public to do it.

In other words, the people who invested when it was public made an enormous amount of money.

Right now, the data says that’s not happening nearly as much, that most of the money is being made by the people that invested when companies were private.

And then when they go public you make money on the company as it grows in the public market. But not nearly as much as you would have made if you invested privately.

So, the data is driving a lot of this behavior in terms of trying to get into earlier stage companies and privately held companies.

so as long as that trend continues, you’re going to see a massive inflow of capital.

The other piece of the data that is pretty clear is that, at least recently, and by recently, I mean the last few years, ventures actually delivered better returns than a lot of other vehicles hedge funds for example.

And probably the best example of that is, looking at Yale’s Endowment, which is now 25% dedicated to Venture.

And the reason for that is because the returns have been so significant for them in that category.

So, all those things are driving a lot of money and a lot of activity towards privately held earlier stage companies.

How long can that last?

I don’t know.

and ultimately the arbiter of that is going to be returns. If returns start to go down in the Venture category over time, then you’re gonna start to see capital withdrawing from it.

There was a time, way back in the 90s’ when, you know, everybody was pouring money into telecom, what were called “selects” back then,

you know, many, many billions of dollars that didn’t work out so well but on the other hand it did build the backbone of the internet by laying lots of fibre cable

with a lot of bankrupt companies, to be sure, but the fibre cable was being laid nevertheless and certainly was a good thing for society.

So, I think that, you know, all the many many different kinds of companies that are being formed now that are being funded.

I think ultimately, it’s a great thing for society. Whether it will be a great thing for investors, you know, in the long run, I just don’t know.

Aakash Shah — 12:53
Yeah, that’s a fair comment, and it is tough to kind of, I guess, take a broader macro call on how it will eventually play out especially in terms of

kind of, I guess, the death rate of startups. Whether that changes much despite more capital coming in, or whether it just prolongs the decline of certain companies and the rise of others.

You’re seeing a lot more crowding in certain very hyped-up grounds, while many others are still discarded as they once were.

And so, it’s an interesting dynamic where in some cases you have concentrated pockets of lots of capital, rather than the vast amount of capital coming into VC.

Just sort of generally spread across everyone.

I guess, just related to one of those points was, and this is kind of, I guess, one of the last ones on VC,

before we move on to entrepreneurs.

But, I mean, just structurally from how VCs have always been, which is kind of this GPLP structure.

I mean, you’re just seeing a lot more innovation, I guess, in terms of how one can deliver capital to the same types of companies,

either through SPAC, through Venture Debt, through Angel Syndicates, even Revenue Based Financing, and Hedge Funds or Private Equity firms coming in earlier.

I mean, do you think that there needs to be, or there will be, a change in terms of this GPLP type of structure?

Or do you think that will remain and just kind of the mandate and other aspects will change.

Dan Ciporin — 14:28
You know, it’s, I do believe the GPLP structure is here to stay.

Certainly, you know, for a great majority of venture capital structures that are investing just because you have to raise the money from somewhere.

And there is a lot of difficulty.

A lot of issues, regulatory issues in particular, around raising money in a public setting, meaning,

meaning either having a venture capital firm that goes public, there’s enormous issues involved in that not just regulatory but also disclosure issues that, you know,

a lot of entrepreneurs would not want to have a public venture capital firm, for example, investing in them if they had to disclose all the information about all the companies that invested in.

But there’s other regulatory issues there as well.

So, it’s very difficult to envision how a venture capital firm would actually be public and do well.

there are private equity funds that, you know, the Apollo’s of the world, for example, black students that do have some venture capital activity, but it’s a pretty small part of what they do, and therefor doesn’t hit the materiality,

you know, kind of benchmark for public disclosure.

So, I think, unless you have a public market setting, which is not of course an LPGP Setting.

You know, it’s hard to see what other structure would take its place in terms of having a GPLP kind of relationship for at least, for institutional venture capital, at least for larger venture capital firms.

Certainly syndicates, you know, the Angels syndicates are set up in a little bit of a different fashion.

But even there it’s essentially an SPV that, you know, that you take a piece of, you know, you have to be an accredited investor for.

So, so I think that’s, that’s probably here to stay.

Aakash Shah — 16:39
Got it. Got it.

I guess now moving on to kind of the entrepreneurs, obviously it’s a very exciting time for new startups, raising capital today.

The markets are very hot and, a lot of things going on, in everything from SaaS to Space Tech to, to Agri and everything in between.

I guess just a general question is, I mean, do you think there will ever be kind of a certain recipe for success for entrepreneurs when they’re thinking about fundraising?

And do you think things have changed when an entrepreneur is going to fundraise and, and how they go about it?

I guess traditionally, it was sort of quite a, quite a thought through process where you would, where you would do a lot of work behind it and then formally come out to market, now

now, kind of, it’s through relationships over time, and kind of a lot of creating a narrative before you actually go to market

I guess, do you have a certain recipe for successful entrepreneurs that you think this is the right way to go about your fundraisers and, and what,

what have you tended to see the most successful founders have at least of Canaan?

Dan Ciporin — 18:00
Sure. So, I don’t think there’s a recipe, having said that there’s certainly certain things that I think every entrepreneur should keep in mind when they’re trying to raise money.

One of the things that I, I you know, and I think I’ve seen literally thousands of companies present; one of the things that I consistently see and that is probably the biggest mistake,

I think basic mistake at least that entrepreneurs make when they’re pitching is, they try in their pitch deck, they try to cram everything they possibly can

all the information that they think anybody might possibly want, that makes the company look good or looking the most favorable light.

But it’s just,

it often becomes two things, Number one too much information and number two, a very disjointed story

the most important thing to think about a pitch deck, is that it is a narrative, it is a story you need, and it is a sales document. You need to grab somebody’s attention very quickly when you’re pitching

and you need to do that by offering them a compelling story.

And that story has to have a storyline, it has to have, you know, has to flow in a way that, is again a compelling narrative for the person listening to it,

Most VCS are looking for a reason to say no, not to say yes.

So, when you, when you come in and you tell a compelling story, what you’re doing is grabbing the attention of somebody and then getting them to want to put an additional work to dig in further to understand that this is a company they want to invest in

and that’s really the big win out of the pitch deck, it’s to get somebody interested in digging in further and putting in more time to understand if it’s a company that won’t invest in

the pitch deck itself is never going to convince somebody, just on the basis of that pitch stack, to invest, you’ve got to get them interested enough, you gotta hook them in to want to look into it further

Aakash Shah — 19:58
Got it, super interesting and I mean I guess I see Mark from Syngenta in the in the audience.

Mark, do you want to, do you want to come up and give your thoughts on that particular question?

If you had any?

I mean if you do, raise your hand, otherwise happy to have we move on to the to the next conversation.

Mark, just for everyone’s reference, is also… okay, great, just inviting you up to speak.

So yeah, Mark, just to reiterate the question and appreciate you all been on here.

we were just kind of wondering, look is there a certain recipe for successful entrepreneurs, especially in this market, that has changed in so many ways?

And anything at Syngenta you’ve seen that kind of has made you look twice at the start up’s, I don’t know, entrepreneur and be like, look this was a great way to create the narrative.

Mark Brooks — 20:55
Yeah, I think I agree with the previous comment. There is no recipe per se, but there are a couple of characteristics that

I think I’ll build on or just take a different tack on, three things that I think I look for an entrepreneur, one would be

just a good storyteller, a good narrative for the business and the reason that it’s important to solve the problem that they’re trying to solve and why they’re the best team, the best person to do it so there’s that narrative

the second thing that I think it’s really important that we look for is a bias towards action, right?

So, somebody who, who has a demonstrated ability to not just think of a great idea, but to actually do something going to take action even if that action is not perfect or right,

it’s the bias towards action, that I think is really important.

And then I guess the third thing that I would, I would sort of build on would be the market, the market size in particular.

So, you know, there’s a lot of great ideas out there that entrepreneurs haven’t come to us with often, but not all, not all great ideas are worth pursuing because maybe the market is just too small.

The problem that they’re trying to solve is just not big enough to matter.

That has, you know, that makes, you know, that’s a common element for all of them.

and so, we look at the size of the market and the second thing we look at in the market is that market size

growing, shrinking, staying the same, what’s driving, you know, what’s driving that dynamic.

so that’s another part of the, again, that’s part of the narrative that the entrepreneurs are trying to tell and to set us on.

Dan Ciporin — 22:25
Yeah, it’s nice to connect here over clubhouse.

I would really emphasize Mark’s point in particular about the, you know, the sense of just getting things done quickly and urgently.

I remember talking to a venture capitalist from Bain, who was on my board when I was a CEO there, and they had, this is Bain Capital before they set up Bain Ventures, but,

They had a 42% return, I said, is there anything in particular that in terms of CEOs, you’ve seen that have been really successful?

They thought about it for me, and he said, you know, I’ve seen introverts, I’ve seen extroverts, I’ve seen people that do culture really well.

I see people that don’t do culture so well.

he said, but you know, the one thing that every single successful CEO has had

that those who are not successful don’t usually have is the sense of urgency. He said that sense of urgency is the single most important thing, I think, in making a successful CEO. And I think that really, it’s, it’s very true.

Aakash Shah — 23:39
Great, great.

and Mark, if you don’t mind, we’ll put you back in the audience, but maybe we’ll pick you up later, if you’re still here.

thanks for that.

And I think, just to tag on to that look, I know many, many investors say, look, a lot of it comes together through multiple points in terms of what the narrative looks like.

but if I could really just drill down into… look, if you’re a founder right now, and you want to raise capital,

is there a well-defined strategy for nailing a pitch? and particularly a proven way to succeed in raising the amount one wants to?

And I think just as, as kind of, in a similar vein to that is, how should founders think about how much money they need to raise right now?

should they be shooting for larger rounds because there’s more capital in the market? and how should they think about their needs?

Dan Ciporin — 24:46
Yeah.

So, I will give you the perspective from more of the traditional VC side.

I do think there’s different approaches from, you know, sort of, friends and family, or Angels, or other things of that sort. We can talk about that as well if you’d like.

But at least from the traditional VC Standpoint, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. First of all, the amount of money you say you want to raise,

whatever amount that is, what a traditional VC, generally speaking, does is take that as the 20% of the total valuation you’re asking for.

Usually again, it’s sort of a thumbnail rule if you will, but usually VCs like to take 20% of a company when they put it in investment.

So, if you say you’re raising 10 million, then what the venture capitalist thinks that you’re asking for is effectively a $40 million pre-money, $50 million dollar post money evaluation.

That’s how they’re going to be thinking about what you’re asking for.

So, when you ask about how much money you’re raising it is not the absolute size of the check that they’re thinking about it is the total size of the valuation.

If you ask for five million, they’re going to be thinking about it as 20 million pre and 25 million post and so forth.

So that’s I think important to keep in mind because in the end it’s less about the size of the check.

It’s more about the valuation and the ownership that the venture capitalist gets.

Again, I’m talking about traditional VC now.

So, you need to think about that carefully.

You need to think about your metrics, and does your background support that? there are certainly, I would say, repeat entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs who have, you know,

a background that is sort of tailor made for the company that they’re building, that can go in and get a high valuation on a pre-revenue basis.

I’ve seen that certainly before. But a lot of times, if you don’t have that stellar, you know, background in terms of, at least on paper, so to speak.

You know, and you have a good idea, but it’s not really fully developed.

You’re going to need metrics of some kind or another to get a, what I would say is a good solid valuation, based on the stage of the company you’re at.

And those metrics don’t have to be, you know, huge, you know, for a SaaS companies for example, you know, sort of again these are all rules

some benchmarks or metrics, usually you’re talking about getting to a million dollars in IRR.

As sort of a critical benchmark for funding a company at a higher valuation versus a lower one.

But there’s sort of different kinds of benchmarks that people think about in terms of valuations, in terms of providing money, that are important.

And so, you need to be very honest with yourself about whether or not you’ve got enough data for somebody to extrapolate that out into success.

So, what a venture person does is, they say okay, you’ve grown from, you know, 50 to 100, 100 to 200, you know, over the course of, whatever, a couple of quarters, even better if a couple of months.

And, you know, can I now extrapolate that out to say, you’re going to continue that kind of growth rate that’s what somebody wants us, to have enough data,

enough metrics to be able to, at least in their own heads, to be able to say I can extrapolate out that this company is going to continue to grow that fast. And at least they’ve got 2 or 3 or 4 data points to prove that.

So, if you have that you’re in much better shape than if you only have one or two data points.

Aakash Shah — 28:41
Got it. And yeah and…

Sorry, go ahead.

Dan Ciporin — 28:48
Yeah so, I think you have to, there is a lot of capital out there but, to your point, I think you said it earlier

you know, it doesn’t mean, you know, you just sort of throw your hat at the ring, try to pitch deck and all of a sudden money comes.

It’s still, there’s still a lot of work and effort required. And more importantly a lot of self-awareness required about what stage are you really at with the company

and how much of a valuation can you reasonably expect to get.

Aakash Shah — 29:20
Got it.

No, definitely.

I think I agree with especially that point around look you have to think about dilution and what valuation you’re basically saying when you go out to market. It’s not just

it’s not just about the amount of capital that you’re raising, but also what a better valuation would be, and whether that’s too expensive in relative to your previous round or not.

I guess, just for the benefit of everyone who’s, who’s just joined.

And just to kind of recap, we’re speaking with Dan, who was most recently a general partner, at Canaan, one of the largest and most successful VC funds globally.

and he sat on the boards of companies like LendingClub, CircleUp and, and other leading companies.

What I wanted to ask you is, can you tell us one of your biggest learnings on how to be a good venture investor and how to build a firm like Canaan.

What about your approach, that made you consistently successful?

Dan Ciporin — 30:16
Sure.

Well, I guess I would say a couple things on that.

First of all, in terms of being a good venture investor, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is,

when you’re a venture investor, you’re a coach, you’re not a player.

and I do see, sometimes, some venture investors get confused on that. Particularly those, you know, that have had an operating role before.

I confess, you know, when I first got into venture being in a career as a former CEO, that was a hard thing for me, sometimes,

to fully immerse myself in the fact that hey, you’re not the one operating this company and it’s very, very bad for you to try to operate anyway, this company,

your role is to be a coach to help guide and facilitate the entrepreneur’s success.

It’s not to get into any kind of operational area.

I do actually think, one of the… you know, boards, in general, I believe boards can certainly help facilitate success, but they’re never responsible for the success of the company.

That’s really the entrepreneur, However, I do think boards can help the company fail, unfortunately, I’ve seen that before.

So, I think, and usually one of the reasons that happens is because, I mean, there could be fighting among the board, but there also could be too much dabbling into the operations of the company,

too much trying to, the operators are not coaches and not guiding and, and being facilitators, as opposed to somebody who’s trying to operate the company themselves.

So, I think that’s a really, really important thing for people to realize in the end,

you’re a coach and if you feel like you can’t coach the person properly or they’re not doing the job well then you have to get yourself a new player,

but it’s not, but you’re never playing yourself, in the sense of helping to operate the company.

That’s, that’s a terrible mistake, in my view.

So, I think that’s probably at least one of the most important things that I see in terms of being a good venture investor

in terms of building a firm, I think, you know, there’s a lot of, you know, the business used to be an apprenticeship business,

and a little bit, almost, you know, home brewed, if you will.

it’s now become, as I mentioned before, a lot more professionalized.

I think the need for having data and pulling up as much aid as you possibly can around companies, around the type of investing you’re doing is absolutely critical.

I actually think, you know, one of the companies that’s done this, one of the firms that has done its best,

you know, they’re very quantitative oriented firm, it was Coach2, Coach2 was a hedge fund, quantitative trading fund.

And they’ve gotten into venture and growth equity in a big way, and they’ve taken that whole data approach

and data science perspective, into their venture capital, investing as well.

They built up a massive database of companies, and all the characteristics of those companies that make them successful,

and tried to look for companies that match-up against those parameters and do that in a very data driven way.

I think that’s pretty impressive.

And I think that’s the kind of thing that you need to have in today’s day and age, as venture itself becomes more professionalized and therefore more data driven.

Aakash Shah — 34:00
Yeah, that’s super, that’s super interesting.

And I think that’s part of what the first question was about, which is, look, where does VC go from here?

It becomes potentially a lot more data driven, much less sort of qualitative, gut feel, what’s the look and feel of this type of company, and much more look how,

how like, kind of, the 5 or 10 companies before this in the same sector have done? what’s the sector looking out right now, is it too frothy?

Is there a good nature they are in and many other things that you can get hard data on?

I guess just one last question, and then we can kind of open it up to the, to the floor if anyone has any questions, is

is there something you wouldn’t tell an entrepreneur if they were pitching you, but you would tell them if you were mentoring them on, saying NeonVest, for example?

Dan Ciporin — 34:52
Yes.

Well, I would, I guess I would say that…

A couple things, I think it’s very important to be respectful towards any entrepreneur, such that, when you’re listening to that entrepreneur’s story, to that entrepreneur’s pitch deck,

you’re listening, you’re paying attention and you’re listening. Sometimes, however, I will set, you know, I’ve been in pitch meetings where after the first 5 minutes or so

sometimes less, sometimes a little bit more, you know, it’s very clear that the entrepreneur is, has a very disjointed story, he’s not really clear about a lot of things

he’s not, it’s not going to be the type of company that you would invest in. I always try to provide that entrepreneur with some feedback, because I think that’s really important as well,

feedback about how, about why it’s not the right fit, but sometimes I would say that I’m

maybe more gentle than I would be, if I were to be completely candid with, with a company.

And one of the, one of the great things I found about NeonVest actually is, when I talk to people, I can be very candid. Because they’re coming to me for help,

not necessarily to pitch me for an investment, but as you guys know very well, it’s a mentorship network. And to be able to provide that mentorship without,

having to frame it in the context of me, making an investment. But simply to provide honest, purely, candid back on how they can be better, and how they can tell the story better.

that’s, something that I really enjoy doing, it’s something I’ve done as part of the NeonVest network and,

hopefully something I’ll continue to do, but, but it’s, it’s hard to be completely candid when you’re listening to a,

to a pitch and and wanting to respect the fact that somebody is telling the story.

you can give a little bit of feedback, but you can’t necessarily give a lot, and maybe not as candid as you ordinarily would in a NeonVest setting, for example.

Aakash Shah — 37:12
Dan, I wanted to get to a rapid fire-round. What this is, is, it’s basically one-word answers, very quickly.

We’ll ask you the question and I want you to respond immediately.

Dan Ciporin — 37:28
Now you’re, now you’re scaring me, but we’ll give it a shot.

Aakash Shah — 37:33
Okay, great, glad you’re up for it.

All right, so let’s begin. Most exciting company today.

It has to be quick. It has to be quick.

Dan Ciporin — 37:49
You know, mostly look, I think there, well, I guess I have to qualify that. You mean private or public?

Aakash Shah — 37:57
Private.

Dan Ciporin — 37:59
Okay.

You know, there, I don’t have a single company that I would point out as THE most exciting company.

What I would say is that there are a number of, let me, let me say it in a different way.

Aakash Shah — 38:16
We can move on as well.

Dan Ciporin — 38:18
Let me throw one out, because it’s a company I’ve been looking at.

and where I invested in previously, and it’s just become something, I think it’s super interesting.

Now that’s in the crypto space.

It’s a company called Paxos, which basically manages the, all the back-end crypto trading, for any company that wants to offer crypto trading.

So, it’s, if you want to call it a white label crypto back-end, you could call it that. But they signed an exclusive contract with PayPal, a while back.

They just signed, I just talked to the CEO, they just signed a contract with, you know, one of the top 10 companies in the world, by market cap

Not a financial services company, but a company that, that is extremely well known, brand name that wants to offer crypto, so they’re signing up with taxes to do that.

And I think with what’s going on with crypto right now, and back-chain in generals it’s really, really interesting

and I believe that kind of, that’s the kind of company, I think is tremendously exciting.

Aakash Shah — 39:24
Okay, great.

Yeah, I mean, I guess for the rest of these, and would love to go back to some of your answers later.

But but if you could just do like a one-word, immediate response,

Dan Ciporin — 39:36
I know I’ve already violated the rules here. Okay.

Aakash Shah — 39:40
No worries, no worries. So, we’ll go for the second one.

Hottest region to invest in

Dan Ciporin — 39:47
Latin America, Southeast Asia

Aakash Shah — 39:53
Okay.

Favourite app that most people won’t know about.

Dan Ciporin — 39:57
Oh yeah, that most people won’t know about.

Wow, that’s, I’m gonna, you know, I don’t have a, I don’t have a good answer on that because most app I know are the ones that most people use as well.

Aakash Shah — 40:16
No worries.

How to make money fastest.

Dan Ciporin — 40:20
Get lucky.

Aakash Shah — 40:25
Best industry to work in right after college.

Dan Ciporin — 40:30
Tech.

Aakash Shah — 40:36
Okay.

Money or Influence?

Dan Ciporin — 40:40
I’m sorry, what was, I didn’t hear the last one. Money or what?

Aakash Shah — 40:45
Influence.

Dan Ciporin — 40:47
Money.

Aakash Shah — 40:51
I didn’t expect that

Your advice to kids, be a founder or investor?

Dan Ciporin — 41:01
Founder.

Aakash Shah — 41:03
Partner or Consensus Driven approach for a VC company

Dan Ciporin — 41:08
I’m sorry, you’re saying those are two different things?

Aakash Shah — 41:14
Yeah.

So, either one decision maker or multiple, consensus driven.

Dan Ciporin — 41:18
One.

Aakash Shah — 41:21
Best networking tool

Dan Ciporin — 41:26
you know, I still use LinkedIn.

I know it’s the oldie, but it’s goody.

Aakash Shah — 41:35
And favourite books.

Dan Ciporin — 41:38
Right now, just Sapiens, just read that

Aakash Shah — 41:43
Very nice.

I’m with you on that one.

So, I think, the general consensus based on what we’re hearing, obviously many different points discussed today.

Some of the more interesting ones around, look, you’re seen evolution and, how VC works, how it has worked about a decade ago to today, and even what it’s going to look like in the future.

Lots more data driven analysis, specialist funds, growth funds coming earlier stage and lots of lots of money in entrepreneurship. So great time to be a founder.

Lots of innovation happening and it’s very clear that sort of, look, if you have a well-defined pitch, a good story, a good narrative, then you really can succeed in this environment.

Thanks a lot Dan, for kind of posting this and then providing your wisdom to everyone that attended.

Any closing remarks, before we got to end the session.

Dan Ciporin — 42:43
No, just that I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for the invitation and again, I will call out what you,

what you guys are doing, once more, NeonVest is a great, great mentorship platform, that I think as many people as possible should take advantage of.

So, thank you again.

Surya Viswanathan — 43:04
Thank you, Dan.,

Aakash Shah — 43:05
And everyone in the audience, just for your reference, you can access Dan and have a 1to1 conversation with him, on kind of whatever you like as it pertains to your business, through NeonVest.

So, you can just go on to NeonVest.com and follow the step from there.

Appreciate the time today, Dan, I’m sure we made people’s Thursday a lot more fulfilling.

Great to have everyone off. Thanks everyone in the audience and look forward to seeing you on the next session in a couple of weeks.

Dan Ciporin — 43:36
All right, thank you all. Take care.

Connecting startups to experts in VC.

Connecting startups to experts in VC.