Up to speed. 'Ecosystem' #3

Your weekly guide on tech news, early stage fundraising and venture capital.

Welcome to another ‘Ecosystem’ newsletter! Thank you for being part of this journey from the very beginning! For access to all monthly events, archive and expert-led workshops become an annual subscriber.

What is the most important factor in career success? It’s difficult to signal out a single characteristic that will make or break one in business. What about top three?

Mine are:

  • Effective time management (knowing how to prioritise your work)

  • Confidence (if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?)

  • Integrity (this relates to being able to build successful relationships!)

But most importantly, as discussed in the latest ‘Ecosystem Giants’ series - having a good sense of judgement. Being able to make decisions even with limited amount of information - easily, quickly and wisely.

You may have noticed there was no ‘Ecosystem’ newsletter last Monday. Skipping a week made me feel so guilty! To make up, I’ve made this one extra special and have kept some of the resources that were to be shared in the previous one.

“In my experience as CEO, I found that the most important decisions tested my courage far more than my intelligence. Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly.” - Ben Horowitz

When is the next event?

Hussein Kanji(partner, Hoxton Ventures) is joining me on Tuesday 28 July at 5pm BST for the next 'Ecosystem Giants' Talks session. This series highlights the ecosystem members who have redefined the investment and startup landscape.

Hussein will share his advice on raising a VC fund, spotting future  billion-dollar startups (having backed 3 British unicorns!) and the areas he is looking into now. As an early subscriber of ‘Ecosystem’, you may book a spot here.

Have you missed out on the pilot session with Marvin Liao, former partner at 500 Startups and Jennifer Phan, an associate at btov partners (one of the oldest and largest venture capital funds in Europe)?

The recording and few of the key insights (the dangerous pattern most successful first time founders should be aware of!) are now available to premium members of ‘Ecosystem’ here.

**A long(ish) event announcement**

I am very pleased to be part of the first competition for real estate innovators in Bulgaria. Proptech.bg's initiative Pitch for Pilot #1 : Tenant Engagement App is an open call to startups, software companies and entrepreneurs with a solution to address the pain points in commercial real estate. This can be related to improving the communication between landlords and tenants; buildings’ health & safety and overall management. The winner will get the chance to work with office buildings in Sofia and Bucharest (150 000 m2) and to pitch for investment.
The initiative is supported by the biggest players in the local real estate market - Colliers International, AG Capital (the largest property group in the country) and Lion’s Head Investments. The intro webinar will be in Bulgarian this Thursday 23 July at 2pm BST. I am also on the judging panel - if you are a startup that fits the criteria, you may reach out to me directly(even if you operate outside of Bulgaria!).
The City Media Group, the leading Bulgarian b2b media platform in construction, strategic infrastructure, investment and the real estate covered the competition here.

Innovation Ecosystem Updates

Whether you are an investor, a founder, an operator, a corporate or a friend. My top (about) 5 news stories this week which you may find of interest too.

Who are the most active and engaged investors in today’s VC industry? The TechCrunch List is the newly launched directory of nearly 400 first check/lead VCs recommended by founders to founders.

A wave of high profile Twitter accounts(inc Elon Musk and Warren Buffet) were hacked in a crypto attack. While such scams are common, the scope is unusual. The issue of insider data access at tech companies via Vice.

A podcaster-turned VC with 2 different funds at 24? Harry Stebbings proves talent and hard work know no bounds! More on his new micro VC fund of $8.3m investing in U.S. startups across various stages alongside(and backed by!) ‘tier 1’ co-investors via Techcrunch.

*Last week it was reported Chelsea Clinton may also be joining the VC world - More on her values conscious venture capital firm to be via Business Insider.

A few months after Covid hit, what is the impact of the pandemic on VC-backed startups in Europe? 1/3 of about 140 respondents have less than a year of runway. See the full breakdown of the data from the survey via Dealroom.

Why are ESG investments on the rise? The pandemic may have been a turning point but there is more. How will UHNW millennials’ interest and demand for sustainability investment products shape the investment industry? The story on Capgemini’s World Wealth Report 2020 via CNBC, or discover the World Wealth infographic (key stats).

3D printing : a game changer or a hype? The story on why the industry is booming in Europe and the 3D innovations to watch via Sifted.


Words of wisdom on startup leadership and success. Sonali de Rycker, Partner at Accel, gives founders advice on building a compelling narrative, hiring and prioritization. *highly recommend*

How to land a job in venture capital? Alison Rapaport, vice president at Serena Ventures on how she got Serena Williams to hire her.

VC investor Nikhil Basu Trivedi(backed Canva, Lattice, ClassDojo) on the new group in the financing ecosystem and the importance of individual brand in venture capital.

*Bonus - while writing up the newsletter, Nikhil published his latest essay on Agglomerator (investing across stages and sectors)/Specialist firms. Another must read to better understand the venture ecosystem.

Are the European B2B marketplaces still in their infancy? 60% of the 250 companies across 8 verticals mapped out by Julia Morrongiello (investor, Point Nina Capital) were started in the last 5 years and most have yet to raise a seed round! Check out her deep dive here.

The next $1 Trillion Software Wave is fueled by developers. Glenn Solomon, managing partner at GGV Capital(shareholder in Slack) on the revenue models that work to build a viable developer-focused software company and winning in the space.


What are the metrics that matter for enterprise software companies raising series A? Lars Kamp, VP platform products (Instana) and co-founder (intermix.io) explores the connection between funding and revenue in detail. A good analysis on why it’s never too early to plan ahead for the next round.

How do you get some of Silicon Valley’s largest companies and most influential people in tech to use your product? Alex Wang, CEO and founder of Scale shares his lessons on rapidly scaling, hiring (team expanded from 30 to 140 employees) and the importance of empathy in sales. A video interview hosted by Index Ventures’ Mike Volpi.

Will creating a personal media company to build an audience become a default for startups? Investor and entrepreneur Anthony “Pomp” Pomliano thinks so(he knows a bit about content creation!)! A step-by-step review of his journey, growing his audience from one platform to another (600 million monthly social media impressions) and the secret weapon behind his success.

*Bonus - A few days ago Anthony got married to another well-known content creator in the tech scene, former Fortune editor and founder of The Profile, the amazing Polina Marinova. Slightly off topic but I thought many of you would find her latest post 100 Couples Share Their Secrets to a Successful Relationship of value. It features advice that holds true in many types of social interactions. Venture capital is a relationship-driven industry and a tip that applies here is to over communicate to stakeholders (especially during a time of crisis).

Twitter Highlight(s)

Medha Agarwal, Principal, Redpoint Ventures

Sahil Lavingia, Founder, Gumroad and soon-to-be VC

Startup of the week

mmhmm, a virtual camera that can be used with Zoom and any streaming service. The company is barely 10 days old and already has over 6k beta tester sign ups.

Tweet @mmhmmapp, @plibin to share they’ve been featured in ‘Ecosystem’.

If you are talking with me on a regular basis, you know how exciting I find ‘Future of Work’ tech. If you don’t yet you are either working on a venture or investing in companies in the space, I’d love to hear from you!

*Particularly interested in enterprise collaboration/productivity tools; video/audio solutions.*

Tweet me!

Startup Go-to Resources

A Guide To Startups :An archive of the best articles from the original blog of Marc Andreessen 
Y Combinator's Essential Startup Advice : Launch now, do things that don't scale and more. Authors inc Paul Graham, Michael Seibel, Jessica Livingston. 

Fundraising in a Pandemic World : Words of wisdom by Semil Shah, founder of Haystack Ventures and Venture Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.   

A Decade of Learnings from Y Combinator Cap Tables 

B2B Selling in COVID-19 : 16 key questions to help you sell and survive; a guide by the investment team at a16z 

The best of a16z's podcast featurin Marc Andreessen

*I very much recommend the episode on talent, tech trends, culture.

Thank you for being part of the second ‘Ecosystem’ newsletter!