About the Hosts: How they got into Seed and Angel Investing

[00:00:00] Welcome to First Funders. I'm Aamir Virani.

[00:00:10] Shaherose: And I'm Shaherose Charania.

[00:00:13] So you and I have been angel investing for a few years now, and more recently we started jumping on Zoom together, dissecting deals that we both found, agreeing and disagreeing on whether we believe this is an investment worth making.

[00:00:27] Aamir: That's right. And as we went along, we thought, what would some of our friends think? They're also angels and seed investors.

[00:00:33] Shaherose: Yeah, exactly.Aamir and I both know some incredible folks who have written the first checks into companies that you and I would know today. They are angel investors, they are seed investors, and they've been in the game for a while, and they've made some great bets, and they've made some pretty bad bets.

[00:00:50] Aamir: We've seen that angels and seed investors have different approaches. This is a good chance for us to learn about how each investor we know thinks about investments, both past [00:01:00] and present, and how investors differ.

[00:01:02] Shaherose: We also think founders will find this useful as they hear how investors talk about a company when they're looking to invest.

[00:01:10] Aamir: So why are we qualified to talk about this?

[00:01:11] Why don't we talk a little bit more about each of our backgrounds?

[00:01:13] How Shaherose went from operating to building Women 2.0 to funding startups

[00:01:13] Shaherose: Absolutely. I've been working with early stage startups, helping them get off the ground since 2005. My first journey was as an operator. I worked at three Venture-backed startups in marketing and product, and in parallel, my side hustle was something called Women 2.0. It was a startup ecosystem supporting founders to connect with investors.

[00:01:36] We gave feedback on their pitch decks, and I found myself whiteboarding and helping founders think through business problems. And I became a quiet advisor to many startups in that zero to one phase. And that experience led me to launching one of the first lean startup incubators called Founder Labs back in 2010.

[00:01:55] And with the mentorship, of folks like Eric Rees, Steve [00:02:00] Blank, and Ann Miura-Ko together, we guided teams from ideation to prototype to first launch to help them assess if they really had initial signs of product market fit. And if it made sense to go out for that first fundraise.

[00:02:16] And since then, I've continued to work with founders from the zero to one stage. More recently, I was at Nike, where I built Nike's first incubator and we focused on exploring new business ideas across wellness, commerce, and sustainability. While I was at Nike is when I started Angel investing and leading SPVs into founders in my network.

[00:02:37] And as I was doing that on the side, I realized how everything I've done to date from operating to advising and mentoring to incubating made me a really great value add investor. So as I wrapped up my time at Nike, I decided to take the leap to venture full-time, and I've joined my friend Monique as a venture partner at Cake Ventures.

[00:02:59] [00:03:00] we invest in three key areas. Aging and longevity, the female economy and cultural minorities as end consumers across B2B and B2C. I still Angel invest on the side and lead SPVs with a focus on startups, series A and beyond

[00:03:16] Across consumer marketplaces, FinTech, and enterprise often where I already know the founder or believe it's a startup that I can uniquely add some value to


[00:03:26] Aamir's Journey from Founder to VC to Angel Investor

[00:03:26] Aamir: So for, me I am more in the angel investor phase, I will write checks once in a while for companies I find interesting or promised ideas that I would like to see happen in reality.

[00:03:36] I've also advised some founders. I'm trying to be like a quiet whisperer, helping them go along the path of building a company without getting taken over by investors too much.

[00:03:45] And when there's time, I'm trying to actually hack on a few apps to try to figure out distribution channels in 2023. A lot of my experience, comes from the 2010s and things have changed a lot in the past few years and I'm trying to, figure out how would you get the word out about a product nowadays [00:04:00] anyway.

[00:04:00] So, my background, I've worked on a few startups. I think my, main claim to fame is being Co-Founder and Head of Product at Dropcam, which is now known as Nestcam. Google and Nest bought it in 2014. we went from pitching folks, like well known angel investors you would know, through raising money for Series A, B, and C rounds from people like Accel and IVP and, getting turned down by a lot of folks you would know about as well. So, I've seen that the founder side of the table. And, being part of developing the pitch there, going out and doing it and dealing with diligence.

[00:04:30] And then after that I did start doing some angel investing and then I was a general partner at Felicis Ventures. So, I spent couple years there and I saw the internals of the firm I saw what it looks like to try and network with a lot of other investors that you've heard of over the past few years.

[00:04:44] And then saw hundreds of pitch emails, pitch decks, met up with companies in person, founders, saw products sat in on Monday morning meetings, to actually determine where to deploy capital at a well known firm.

[00:04:56] So my focus today as an angel investor, honestly it's still some in hardware [00:05:00] companies. If something interesting comes along, I'd definitely like to see it.

[00:05:03] The other, few areas are more personal interest.

[00:05:05] One is the creator economy, but where creator does not mean social media creator. I think there's a lot more people out there making cool things and I'm wondering how we can help them to monetize that and, do the things that they love.

[00:05:18] the third area then is kind of related to that, which is like small and medium sized businesses tools for them. Often I feel like you hear, oh SMB means like small enterprise that's trying to grow into a big enterprise.

[00:05:30] I don't mean that. I mean more like companies that the 99% would start, Like the, majority of America is made up of smaller companies that are localized and I'm wondering how to help them become more efficient and help them to be more prosperous.

[00:05:42] And then the last thing is I've dabbled in commercial real estate and that market just generally seems inefficient. And at the same time, a huge lever for other problems that we deal with in our society. So I'm wondering if there's a way to attack that with a capitalistic bent.

[00:05:54] So those are my four main areas right now.

[00:05:57] Now that you know more about us, we hope you'll subscribe and [00:06:00] hear our interviews with angels and seed investors in the coming weeks.

[00:06:03] We plan to release a new episode every two weeks. See you next time.

[00:06:06] Outro

[00:06:06] Shaherose: Thanks for listening. We'd love your feedback and suggestions on topics and guests. You can find us on Twitter/ X, @shaherose and @avirani.

[00:06:19] Aamir: Subscribe to our newsletter to get behind the scenes access, learn more about the guests, and receive the key takeaways from each episode. You can find it at firstfunderspod.com/newsletter.

[00:06:28] Shaherose: And don't forget to subscribe and share with your friends at firstfunderspod.com/subscribe.

Creators and Guests

Aamir Virani
Aamir Virani
Helped 50+ orgs grow product and scale teams.Software Engineer ➡️ Product Manager ➡️ Founder (Nest Cam fka Dropcam) 🔀 Investor, CRE, Founder@pifgov 2021
Shaherose Charania
Shaherose Charania
Venture Investing at @CakeVentures and @joindvc | Always helping founders | Raised on Atari, MS-DOS, Bollywood & Hip Hop. 🇨🇦in 🇺🇸
About the Hosts: How they got into Seed and Angel Investing
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