Skin in the Game VC Podcast
Steve MacDonald: International Tech Trails & Tales
This episode focuses on Steve MacDonald’s unique experience of spending a year in Florence, Italy, while exploring the cultural and historical aspects, as well as insights into the local tech scene.
Steve shares that the decision to move to Florence was driven by a long-standing desire to experience life abroad with his family. He reflects on the cultural differences, the historical richness of Florence, and the challenges of adapting to a different lifestyle. Steve also highlights his travels within Europe during this period.
The podcast delves into the tech scene in Italy as well a noting cultural nuances affecting entrepreneurship. In contrast to the U.S., failure is not culturally acceptable in Italy, making it a challenge for startups. Additionally, Steve provides insights into the venture capital landscape in Europe, noting the conservative approach and a lack of angel investors.
Upon returning to the U.S., Steve shares his observations on the current market environment, emphasizing the prolonged timeline for startup exits and the impact of changing economic conditions on valuations. He stresses the importance for startups to focus on profitability and cash preservation.
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David Goldberg: Navigating the Evolving Tech Landscape30:49In this particular episode, Tom and Saxon touch on various subjects, such as the bankruptcy of WeWork, the impact of EVs on traditional automakers, and the changing landscape of commercial real estate due to remote work trends. Guest speaker, David Goldberg, a partner at Alpaca Ventures, talks about his background, the branding of Alpaca Ventures, and their approach to venture capital.
Joe Bayen: Journey From Success to Failure and Back49:50Joe Bayen, who was Born in Cameroon, shares his journey of moving to the United States as a three-year-old and being raised in Paris, France. Joe shares his experience in the credit industry, starting with his realization of the impact of late payments on his credit score. This led him to found a company aimed at helping students manage their credit. Joe worked on the development of the Bootstrap app, which garnered millions of installs and revenue through a successful business model of offering free downloads of paid apps for a few days. However, the business model suffered when Apple changed the app store rules, resulting in a sudden loss of revenue.Join Tom Wallace and Saxon Baum as Joe dives into what it looked like going from success to failure then back to success.Link for the "State of Seed and Early Stage Investing Quarterly Update" by Saxon Baum: https://www.floridafunders.com/resources/blog/the-state-seed-early-stage-investing/
Matthew & Michael Vega-Sanz: Finding Passion in the Ordinary01:00:51Founders of Lula, Michael and Matthew Vega-Sanz joins the episode of Skin In The Game VC Podcast with Tom Wallace and new co-host Saxon Baum.Matthew and Michael discuss their journey of creating a car sharing app called Lula. They talk about how they came up with the idea while in college and built an app that initially had many flaws. However, over time, the app gained traction and went viral, becoming one of the top car sharing apps in the country. They also faced challenges in securing insurance coverage for their rentals but eventually found an insurance company to work with. The two founders emphasize their passion for insurance and how it touches every aspect of life. The two brothers mention using data points to assess risk when users sign up for their service. Michael and Matthew mention a pivotal moment in which they decided to pivot from being a car rental company to focusing on insurance. Lula provides insurance-related services, including claims management and risk reduction. They help companies save money by reducing insurance expenses and optimizing teams. Lula has experienced significant growth, increasing their customer base from 99 to nearly 4000 companies in just over a year.
Laura DiBella: Florida's Tech Bloom40:02Laura DiBella, the Secretary of Commerce for the State of Florida as well as the president of CEO of Enterprise Florida, joins us for this episode of Skin in the Game. Laura explores the robust evolution of Florida's tech industry and the state's response to COVID-19. Florida's open strategy during the pandemic made the state a magnet for tech talents, thereby catalyzing innovation. She acknowledges the pivotal role of a diverse talent pool and universities in creating a vibrant business environment.They shift focus to Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership established in 1996, aimed at spurring economic growth. Despite its impending merger into the Department of Commerce, Laura counters misconceptions about its effectiveness, underlining its contributions, including the Florida Opportunity Fund, its venture capital arm. She points to its successful model as proof of its integral role in Florida's economic development.Get an inside look at emerging technologies, with Laura unveiling Florida's ambition to be at the forefront of electric vehicle take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology. Florida's geographic characteristics and existing infrastructure make it an ideal location for the deployment of this technology,As for the current political climate, Laura expresses hope for more unity and collaboration in government. She believes challenging economic times could forge a sense of unity, leading to a more stable, effective, and trusted government.
Investing in Startups with Brad Feld48:54Brad Feld, an avid ecosystem-builder, tech entrepreneur, and early-stage investor for over 35 years shares his insights on the venture capital, startup, and tech community in this episode of Skin in the Game VC Podcast. Brad began his journey in tech and venture capital in the ‘80s and has since become a respected and influential figure in the industry. He has written several books on entrepreneurship and venture capital and started blogging in 2004 before VC Twitter existed.Join Tom Wallace as he dives into the world of angel investing in startups with Brad Feld where they’ll discuss his successes, what it takes, and where startup investing could be going.
Building a Betr Company with Joe Levy47:57On this episode, Tom interviews Joey Levy. You may have seen him recently all over the news and social media alongside his business partner and top sports influencer Jake Paul. They have recently launched Betr (initially known as Instabet), the world’s first micro-betting focused app and new media venture for the next generation of sports fans.If you want to learn more about investing in early-stage tech like a venture capitalist, be sure to visit the Florida Funders website at floridafunders.com. Join our angel network at no cost and get access to Florida Funders VC-vetted investment opportunities in the next great breakout tech companies.
Building a Tech Community with Lakshmi Shenoy of Embarc Collective49:47Lakshmi Shenoy is the CEO of Embarc Collective in Tampa, Florida. Tom Wallace discusses her story and how she ended up helping to build and lead the fastest-growing startup hub in Florida. If you like what you hear, please rate us 5 stars and check out other episodes here: https://www.floridafunders.com/category/podcast/
Lessons Learned in Early Stage Tech Investing During Market Downturns39:38Florida Funders partners Tom Wallace and Marc Blumenthal discuss the ups and downs of markets and the lessons learned from the past. Learn more about early-stage tech investing during these times. If you like what you hear, please rate us 5 stars and check out our site: https://www.floridafunders.com/category/podcast/