David Wu is a General Partner at Maveron, and understands the pain entrepreneurs go through to grow meaningful businesses. Prior to Maveron, David was a serial entrepreneur himself, and grew Homestead to 400,000 paying subscribers before the company sold to Intuit.
It's not surprising that David has already picked some great companies early in his venture career. Prior to joining Maveron, he invested as an angel, in some of the top companies in tech - at Maveron, David has invested in great companies such as August Home, Eargo and Instamotor.
I recently had the chance to catch up with David on what it takes for entrepreneurs to succeed these days, and what he looks for before investing in companies.
What's the one thing about entrepreneurship you feel like people don't understand?
David Wu: There is a big difference between a first time entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs. I'll answer this question in the context of first time entrepreneurs: I think the thing that first time entrepreneurs sometimes underestimate is the importance of choosing the right venture investor for that first large round of funding.
When you take the leap with a venture investor, it's like choosing a spouse, or hiring an exec team member that you can't fire. You really have to share the same vision as that individual, and be willing to work with them for the long haul.
I think a lot of first time entrepreneurs take that decision too lightly, and think it's just about the money.
What markets are you excited about right now?
DW: Maveron is unapologetically entrepreneur driven - not thesis driven. I obviously subscribe to this. It's really about the people, and the CEO - especially in the early days of a company's lifecycle.
As a firm, we go after large 'dinosaur' markets where NPS (net promoter score) is really low and the experience for young people is not great. There are plenty of markets that would fit this criteria, including fintech, healthcare and others.
At the end of the day, we as a firm, and I believe that the scale you can build consumer companies these days is unprecedented. There are a lot of categories where extremely large scale consumer companies can be built, and an 'escape velocity' can be reached in a short amount of time.
Name a great tech CEO that young entrepreneurs should emulate.
DW: Katrina Lake from Stitch Fix - she is part of our 'anti-portfolio'. Katrina has the ability to attract the best people to work for her, and has the uncanny ability to hire years ahead of what she needs. Every tech CEO should take note of that and try to develop that skill.