VC Insights: Spero Ventures

Spero Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm investing in the things that make life worth living. They partner with entrepreneurs solving problems in three areas: well-being, work & purpose, and human connection. They invest in technology companies that are driven to deliver value to both shareholders and society, including: Clarity, Mati, Core, Droneseed, Gencove, Roam Robotics and Skillshare. They are high-conviction investors and we help companies scale to billions of customers. Their LP and partners are founders and early execs at eBay and Tesla.

VC Insights with Ruckus is a series of conversations with Venture Capitalists to learn about what they look for in companies to fund, how they spot the best talent and what is their advice for startup founders looking to grow or get funding.


Ha Nguyen, was formerly a Founding Partner at Spero Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm investing in the things that make life worth living: our well-being, work & purpose and human connection.

Her core drivers are the following: connecting people through community, building products that have a positive impact at scale, leading with empathy, and elevating women and underrepresented minorities in the technology industry.

She gives talks around the globe on design-thinking and how to build products that customers love. She’s on the Board of Women In Product (non-profit organization of 20k female product builders) and co-founded the Product Leader Summit (invite-only conference bringing together founders and VP-level product leaders).

Sonny Mayugba, is a maulti-time CEO and C-Level executive, who has gone from ‘napkin to Nasdaq,’ scrappy operator chops to SEC Compliance training, SPAC and De-SPAC first hand experience, and many things in between. HE led Growth at Swimply (through $10M Series Seed and $40M Series A) over 3x’ing revenue in one season, founding CMO at Waitr (Nasdaq:WTRH) launching 700+ cities and over $1B in public company market cap, Managing Director at LAUNCH, EIR at Spero Ventures, Global Business Marketing at Facebook

HOST: Anish Shah is the CEO & Founder of executive search agency Ruckus. Anish has worked in-house in Growth roles at Snapfish and Getable. He started Bring Ruckus as a Growth consultancy 11 years ago working with 40+ clients, then re-focused his firm on executive recruiting for Growth leaders.


  • 5:34 – Sonny shares opinion on current BLM events
  • 9:16 – Ha comments on her involvement in mentoring underrepresented communities
  • 14:53 – The EIR (Entrepreneur In Residence) process and how it differs from being a VC
  • 23:18 – Sonny shares about his responsibilities as an EIR
  • 24:30 – Ha explains her transitionto becoming a VC
  • 32:09 – Sonny dives deep on what he’s found most challenging about being an EIR
  • 34:34 – Sony shares what skills and attributes are needed to be successful in venture
  • 36:20 – Ha gives her take on skill set needed in order to thrive
  • 39:17 – Is there a typical VC profile? Ha shares her opinion on the typical path
  • 45:28 – Anish asks how would an introvert come into play in a venture?
  • 51:10 – Ha shares on ideal approach when someone looking for funding is introducing themselves
  • 56:36 – Anish shares key takeaways of event
  • 58:40 – Ha shares which industries and types of projects they are looking to invest in

Read the Full Transcipt

Grace Portillo (00:00:01):
Hi everyone. And thanks for connecting with us. This is VC Insights with Ha Nguyen and Sonny Mayugba from Spero Ventures. So this is being recorded. We’ll send an email out with a link once the recording is ready. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions into the chat. You’re feeling it, turn your cameras on for a more engaging experience. This is series with called VC Insights for conversations with venture capitalists. So we can learn how, what they look for in companies to fund and how they spot the best talent. What also, where we get advice on passing the mic on to you, Anish.

Anish Shah (00:00:49):
Yeah. Thanks Grace. So my background, it was my, my previous life was actually running kind of marketing and growth through different companies, both full-time as a consultant spent 11 years in San Francisco, moved to New York about three years ago, and then seven years ago actually began recruiting for clients. With the whole idea that people who have practitioning knowledge within, let’s say marketing, product, analytics, design growth, you know, we’d be a better fit to recruit for companies than someone who’s never done the jobs themselves before. So we try to integrate really deeply with our clients in order to help them hire kind of the best people out there. Most of our clients tend to be somewhat in the tech ecosystem and somewhat in the startup ecosystem. So that’s also part of why we’re so excited to speak with Ha and Sonny today, because obviously that that’s the that that’s the world they operate in as well.

Grace Portillo (00:01:45):

Sonny Mayugba (00:01:50):
Please don’t tell me, you’re going to read all those paragraphs that’s too long.

Grace Portillo (00:01:55):
You can introduce yourself.

Sonny Mayugba (00:01:57):
Oh, I introduce myself. Okay. Hey, well, hi everybody. Thanks to everyone in the community. Who’s joined this and who are still joining. Thanks to Bring Ruckus for having Ha and I here super excited and totally grateful and honored to be here. I am an entrepreneur in residence and I am an entrepreneur and have been my entire life. I love building things, probably something we all have in common and I love starting things. So currently I’m the EIR at Spero Ventures. And what I do there is really work with getting my hands dirty, rolling up my sleeves with our portfolio companies on strategic objectives and operational plans and, and strategy and just getting things done. I work with Ha on the team on diligence and looking at new companies that we’re thinking about that fit our thesis. And then I get to do really fun things like this with Ha where we talk to the community and you know, talk about Spero and what we stand for.

Grace Portillo (00:03:01):
We also have Ha.

Ha Nguyen (00:03:02):
Hi everyone. Well, first of all, it’s so awesome to see some of my friends on the call. So hi, Anna and Cynthia and Shada and Jared, Awesome folks. So great to have you guys here. So so my background and I’ll, I guess I’ll start with my tech journey. So I, I moved over to Silicon valley in 2000. I worked at five early stage startups, the last four, I led product and design at those startups. And then about four years ago, I moved over into the world as into the world of venture first as an EIR at Omidyar Network. And then I became an operating partner six months in, and then two years ago, I along with my partnership, Mahesh spun out of Omid network to form my own venture firm called Spero Ventures.

Ha Nguyen (00:03:59):
And I, yeah, I, I can share a little bit about Spero Ventures. You know, we’re an early stage venture capital firm that invests in the things that make life worth living. And that is founders and who are building startups that are worth purpose driven and can scale to become a billion dollar companies. So we, we have you know, a, a small early stage fund. I eventually then started also becoming a investing partner as well. So I sort of seen the gamut, I’ve done a bunch of different roles, so happy to share my experiences.

Grace Portillo (00:04:41):
Awesome. So let’s get started with the questions.

Anish Shah (00:04:44):
Cool. and you know, before we dive right into sort of our, our pre-create list of questions, obviously a lot has changed in the world over the last you know, week or two. There’s, there’s a lot of emotions flying around and there’s a lot of people within the startup community who feel like they’re disenfranchised. I know both Sonny and Ha you guys both have a lot of experience within kind of different underrepresented communities, your organization as a whole helps to support them. But I’d love to hear from, from both of you guys. Cause I know there’s recent experiences with both of you that, that you can kind of touch upon to, to sort of address everything happening in the world. And as it pertains to kind of business economics anywhere in between, Sonny.

Sonny Mayugba (00:05:30):
Yeah, sure. Thank you, Anish and I I’m glad you, you brought it up a lot has changed since we first started talking about doing this talk, right. Swiftly, but a lot hasn’t changed as well. But hopefully this is an inflection point, you know and, and first off, you know, my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and everybody affected by this in, in a very meaningful way. And you know, it, it, it’s, it’s been interesting. I’m in Sacramento, California, which is turning out to be a ground zero of protesting, which has been mostly a beautiful thing. You know, that’s been very peaceful, very meaningful with a very important message. Getting out to the world on what needs to change for human rights, for civil rights which are most important, you know, as it relates to the world that Ha and I play in, you know, we are both underrepresented from where we come from, right.

Sonny Mayugba (00:06:29):
We’ve been doing some good work in the last 20 years of our lives, but, you know you know, I grew up a mixed race, single mother. My mom was a single mother of one of 12 kids who was a fruit picker, you know, whose father immigrated from just two generations away, immigrated here to the United States in the forties who was a dark skinned Pacific Islander. And you can imagine how that went, not so well, you know, and Ha will tell her story. So, you know, we’ve seen a bit of adversity nothing like what we’ve seen recently. And you know, I just really hope that our community and our world comes together to make actual meaningful change. You know, it’s interesting. Like, like all of us were on different email lists and they got an email from the CEO of 23.

Sonny Mayugba (00:07:14):
And me, I dunno if anybody out there got that and it was pretty fascinating to see, and she essentially just said, and I’ll forward it around. If anybody wants to see it, or I’ll post a photo of it. She essentially said, we’ve done a poor job. There are no African Americans at director level or above at this company. That’s a big company, none that’s abominable, right. It’s not a coincidence. But I appreciate her admitting it. And I appreciate her exposing that to the public and saying, we’re going to change. So out of this incredible tragedy, maybe this is the one maybe we see real change happen for real this time. And I, and I hope so.

Ha Nguyen (00:08:03):
Yeah. You know, over the weekend you know, it was juxtaposition for me where like on Saturday I was floating on cloud nine celebrating my 19th anniversary with my husband and my family and, you know feeling peaceful and happy and sheltered in my, in the burbs of the bay area. And then Sunday morning, you know, I, I checked the news and I checked Twitter and it was just chaos and it was heartbreaking and troubling and, and yeah, I, it compelled me to, to put up a post on LinkedIn. But all afternoon I was slacking with my partner around, like, what could we be doing here at Spero Ventures? So just a little bit about my background, my story, like I, you know, I, I am a refugee immigrant from Vietnam, so I wasn’t born here.

Ha Nguyen (00:08:53):
I came here as a refugee grew up poor in rural Pennsylvania, I think in the heart of Trump land, honestly. You know, really, I mean, I just feel so lucky and blessed to like, be able to kind of get out of my situation and eventually end up in the bay area after school. But yeah, I’ve always considered myself like an outsider, you know, I, I didn’t grow up like, you know, having the mentors or the access or the networks as others have had. And so I’ve kind of devoted my whole career in, in terms of like helping and mentoring underrepresented either founders or leaders or individuals in tech. So I’m on the board of women and product. You know, we are an 18,000 female product female product manager community that is there to support each other and celebrate each other’s successes.

Ha Nguyen (00:09:54):
I, co-lead a VP of product group that is you know, a few hundred members strong. And at every single event that we have, we’re committed to having 50, 50 diverse representation of male females and 15% African American Latino, all the way through speakers to attendees. You know and so, you know, we’re committed to that. At Spero Ventures, we have a car virus fund to invest in diverse founders earlier. I’m committed to writing more checks into not just, you know, female founders, but African American Latinos. So if you have a awesome founder, please send them my way you know, and welcome them to all of our events and in, into our spirit community. And yeah, and us Shri and I talking over the weekend that we are going to hire a a summer associate who is from one of those underrepresented communities. And I’m not talking just about a female but we are, you know, we’re going to do more. So I think if everybody does their part, I think we will hopefully move towards more, just fair and equitable society. But, you know, I think we all have to just step up, listen and commit to action. I think that’s the only way that this role changes.

Anish Shah (00:11:16):
Absolutely. Thank you both for diving into that. And obviously our, our roles, our, my company’s role is focused on hiring people into senior level, senior level kind of opportunities that are high paying and are great kind of career roles for quite a few people. And, you know, I see firsthand what happens when someone doesn’t hit the kind of cultural, like sort of quote unquote cultural fit marks of getting into a lot of these companies, right? You need to talk a certain way, dress a certain way. Look like the founder act like the founder and, you know, very frequently, like, let’s say you even have an accent on you. That’s not, you know, an accent that’s not Western European. You know, you’re going to, you’re going to definitely get knocked a few points in almost probably every interview cycle. And you know, I have a, I have another talk later on today, I’m doing a sec, a second.

Anish Shah (00:12:08):
One of these later on today on someone else’s point where all we talk about is the experiences we’ve had within that, where, you know, one of the smartest people in customer acquisition, in digital marketing that I know, you know, he has an Indian accent, and, you know, he’s been asked within interview processes, like whether he can improve on that, you know, whether he can, he can learn to speak, he was asked whether he can learn to speak more American and stuff like that, you know, so, you know, you see all these things pop up consistently and, you know, there is a lot that we can all do. And I think a lot of it is beyond posting on social media. But also when companies do post on social media and say that they’re kind of interested in helping out, however, they can forcing them to actually do something and forcing them to actually say, well, Hey, you posted that really great image on LinkedIn or on Instagram.

Anish Shah (00:13:01):
Here’s exactly how you can help now. So it’s important to to kind of take advantage of this moment right now and make sure that while it’s happening and in the middle of it instead of, you know, months from now, when all of that sentiment is going to cool down, maybe it will obviously no one can predict the future, but if, if the past is any kind of indication there is a chance that it could, it could slow down. So making sure to push companies and utilizing your access, obviously Ha and Sonny, you’re both people with immense access we have access to founders as well. So and people who can make hiring decisions. So just being able to utilize that as best as possible. And, you know, I ask all the, the 49 people on this call, you know, think about the access you have and, and how you can push people.

Anish Shah (00:13:46):
And at times in uncomfortable situations that are uncomfortable for them, but lead to, to positive outcomes. So yeah, this is, this is a good week to do that if you haven’t yet. Cool. So now we will get into kind of, we have about nine questions here that were sort of crowdsourced from all the people who registered for this event. And, you know, overall, you see that you see that title EIR really frequently. Generally it’s meant for people who work within a venture capital firm or a venture wing of a big company. And I, myself at least personally general, like don’t really understand what it means. Is it a VC? Is it, are you just kind of a consultant? Like what? Maybe both. So both Ha you previously were an EIR Sonny. You are now currently in EIR. So I’d love to learn the details of, you know, what is it and what has been your experience in learning? What, what does it even mean?

Ha Nguyen (00:14:47):
So let me, let me, let me start with this one and, and I’d love, for Sonny to share his experiences. So so actually EIR is a little bit misleading in that there are two different forms of EIRs, so there’s the entrepreneur and residence track, and then there’s the executive in residence track. And then, you know, shorten, they’re both EIR. So entrepreneur and residence track, you know, historically has been inviting a entrepreneur. Oftentimes, you know, who’s seen some level of success or an exit who is trying to figure out what to do next, what company to start up again into the firm, you know, and, you know, sometimes, you know, there’s been a preexisting relationship with that firm. So maybe the VC had invested in the entrepreneur before and was happy with, you know, that exit or at least that first exit.

Ha Nguyen (00:15:42):
And so invites the entrepreneur into the firm to hang out you know, with six months to 12 months while they’re incubating their idea and with, and oftentimes with the optionality at the end of that sort of period to fund the entrepreneur. So that is sort of the historical entrepreneur and residence track. There’s also the executive in residence track. And so good examples of that might be Casey Winters you know, who was in the EIR at Greylock or my friend, Chris , who was in EIR benchmark, you know, they, they hadn’t started companies before, but there were senior leaders and executives at their companies that have, and, and have seen some level of success or scale. And the, and the venture firm has had some experience, you know, working with the executive and residence, maybe as a board observer in some of the board meetings.

Ha Nguyen (00:16:44):
And that executive is at a crossroads trying to figure out what, what to do next and, you know, and happy to have a place to land. They get invited by the VC firm to come in and join. And the expectation there is, you know you have some expertise, whether that’s in product, whether that’s in growth or maybe some other areas we have a portfolio of companies who need that help and that expertise, you know, so come in and help our companies and teach them what, you know, and teach them how to fish. And you know, all the, while you get to hang out, you know, at in our offices, you know, back in the day when we went to offices you get access to our business cards and hopefully you get to sit in on some of the deal meetings and learn about the world of venture and learn about the world of investing. So those are the two different tracks I’ll pause there. And have Sonny kind of share his experience because I can go on about my experience, but think it’s interesting to hear about Sonny’s experience as an EIR with Spero Ventures,

Sonny Mayugba (00:17:49):
Right? And came in little bit of both. Most recently, I was a founder. I’ve been a founder, pretty much my whole career, but I, I founded a, a food tech app that started out with the team. And we ended up through a, a string of events growing that company into a $308 million exit, and then taking it public on NASDAQ. So the founding team was there from napkin stage all the way to NASDAQ. And, and you learn a lot of, well, you, when you do things, you learn those things, right? So was Al was a founder and also doing what, what Ha described, which was being and doing the work well, what do you want to do next? And it was exactly what she just described. I was like, God, that’s, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. You know, I go, I gave her a vague answer. Like, you know, I really want to take all this skill I’ve learned and all my, you know, gray hair-years of experience and apply it to a really great mission. Sounds pretty vague. Right. I meant it. She goes, huh, it sounds a little bit like you want to be an EIR. And I’m like, oh, I don’t know, EIR. She goes, no, an executive residence. I’m like, what’s that? So she says idea,

Ha Nguyen (00:19:16):
Hey, Sonny, is everybody having issues with Sonny’s audio? Hey, Sonny. I don’t know if you can hear me, but like, I think we’re having you

Sonny Mayugba (00:19:25):
Discussion with my audio

Ha Nguyen (00:19:28):
Yeah. With your audio would change.

Anish Shah (00:19:30):
Oh, I think your wifi just might have turned real spotty for, you know, 30 seconds there.

Sonny Mayugba (00:19:35):
So lame right on the right on like the joke part of my story.

Anish Shah (00:19:38):
Yeah. Sorry about that.

Sonny Mayugba (00:19:43):
No, it’s my bad. I have fiber too. Is it, is it not doing well? How, how about now? Are you guys good?

Anish Shah (00:19:48):
You’re, you’re actually much better now.

Sonny Mayugba (00:19:50):
Okay. My apologies. So not sure what we lost there, but anyway, it was the story of how I ended up being in EIR, which was pretty funny. And so, and you’re on mute, Ha.

Ha Nguyen (00:20:02):
oh, give, give the one minute low down again, because I think we did lose you. So just give the quick summary. So

Sonny Mayugba (00:20:09):
Cut out. Give the what summary,

Ha Nguyen (00:20:11):
Sorry. Give give the quick one minute summary, because I think we did lose you throughout your story.

Sonny Mayugba (00:20:15):
Oh, okay. Yeah. Yeah. The one, the one minute summary was that Ha sent me out to figure out what is EIR, I went out. I couldn’t find anything online. And when we came back, I said, I, I couldn’t find anything. It was much funnier the first time I, I told it, but anyway, what it . So what she, she asked me a really poignant question, which is, and actually Shia asked me a really great question, which is what is it that you want to do? And what, how would you be happiest? And that got me really thinking and, and Ha and I ended up in a really good discussion. I said, let me go first, because I don’t want you to go first, because she goes, I have a vision of what it could be, but why don’t you go first? And, and so I did and, and really how I describe it is you’re really joining the C firm to do exactly what Ha said.

Sonny Mayugba (00:21:04):
You get to, to your experience of being a founder and being, you know, who, who haven’t been down that road yet. That is just really powerful because you’ve done it. And, and when they hit you with their challenges or objectives they want to achieve, you can, you actually know where it’s going to go and they haven’t seen it yet. So coaching them on sales strategy, product strategy, marketing strategy, and actually operational tactical plans and helping connect those dots is really powerful. And then being able to sit at the table with Hash, or Pria, Sarah, Mark, Steven, Jonathan, you know, this team of brilliant minds with tons of experience and actually be around traditional venture capital and look at how the firm works in terms of looking at the thesis of the firm, companies that are coming in the founders. I mean, it’s, it’s a matrix… Company with a check and fund to founder. It’s, it’s really fantastic. So seeing that on, on the front lines is really cool, too.

Anish Shah (00:22:17):
Awesome. And you know, with that, so it sounds like your, your role is very much affiliated with once someone is a portfolio company, then you do a lot of work with them to just essentially help sort of like a, a really ingrained consultant almost and helping them operate their company much better. Is that kind of a, an okay summary?

Sonny Mayugba (00:22:40):
No, that’s, that’s really fair. I mean, yeah, you can liken it to your, like a guest board member. You are a super advisor. That’s exactly how I look at it and you get to work with real founders on, on their challenges. It’s it’s amazing.

Anish Shah (00:22:57):
Awesome. And, and does that, you know, wi with that role, are you looking at deal flow as well, or are you really only focused on companies that are already a portfolio company and then you go and help them operate better?

Sonny Mayugba (00:23:11):
Yeah. So yes, I, the answer, the short answer is yes, I get to look at deal flow and, and look at diligence with, with the, the principles of the firm. You know, that would be a little lower on my priority list, but it’s something that I get to have a, a front seat at the, and and it’s something that, you know, it’s a, it’s a new role as, as a founder, that’s, you’re not on that side of the desk or that, you know, at that table. So it’s really when you look at where you want to go and, and how you want to help, help companies and help the mission, it’s a great place to be.

Anish Shah (00:23:45):
Awesome. Thanks for digging, digging into that. Let’s jump into the next one. Oh, here’s a really good one. What has been the most challenging part of your transition to EIR and I, I think you, we can also, and, and for those that on this call that don’t know Ha started you know, as an EIR and then transitioned into you know, growing into sort of, I don’t know if it’s growing actually just transition into necessarily being a, being a, a full-time VC. So I, I would include that in the question as well. You know, what’s been the most challenging part of a transition to EIR . And then also, you know, what’s been the most challenging part of transition into VC in a more traditional sense as well.

Ha Nguyen (00:24:29):
Sure. I I’ll start. So I think it’s two things. So as I mentioned before, my career 16 years has been spent as a product leader different Silicon valley, early mid-stage startup ups. And as a product leader, I mean, what you’re doing is you are building things, right? So you know, so you’re building a product, you’re shipping it, there’s deadlines. You are getting market feedback. You are iterating on the product. You’re looking at the analytics, you’re working with stakeholders. You’re trying to understand customer problems, you know, and, and so you really feel a sense of accomplishment, right? Like you are getting stuff out the door and you, you feel pride when, you know when it’s working and then if it’s not working, you get a chance to fix it. Venture is not at all building, right?

Ha Nguyen (00:25:24):
So like Sonny said, right? So you will actually be, do a very bad job in this role, if your expectation is that you’re going to go into a company and help them fix their problems by rolling up your sleeves and fixing it for them. That’s not what the founders actually want from you, you know, like they’re going to understand their businesses much better than you do. They’re going to, you know, understand what they’ve tried. What’s worked what, hasn’t, what their customers have told them, et cetera. But they don’t have the experience that you do, you know? And so they do want you to be a coach to them almost, you know, so, so it is really I think that’s the right word, you know if your expertise is marketing, you know, then your marketing coach, if your expertise is, is product, you’re a product coach, but really it’s also broader than that, right?

Ha Nguyen (00:26:13):
So it’s, you know, business leadership, coaching, it’s executive coaching because a lot of these founders are young and first time founders sometimes it’s really just being a friend or a colleague, you know, where they can like share their most intimate, you know and darkest moments with you with no judgment. And so, so, so that is one difference is sort of just the building and actually getting shit done. And, you know, and then your role as an EIR as a coach more than sort building. And then the second sort of, I think key difference for me, at least when I was, when I made the transition, is it really is not a team sport in venture. So Sonny may not disagree because we try to like bring them in, in, but for the most part, you know, you could go the entire week without talking or seeing your partners or other team members of the firm, right.

Ha Nguyen (00:27:08):
So we might get together on Mondays or we often get together on Mondays to talk about deals, but outside of that, you know, we’re all going out during our own thing, sourcing deals, speaking at events, evaluating ideals yeah, I mean we’re, you know, writing whatever it might be, but it’s very rare that we, you know, work with others in the firm a little bit, you know, we might collaborate on certain things, but it is definitely not a team sport. So those were the two big differences that I saw. And so it’s something that I know if many of you on the call are thinking about maybe career transitions and whether venture would be something that, you know, would be interesting to you. Venture sounds sexy and sometimes it is, but it’s not always that way. And if you are a builder and you love building, it may or may not be the right role for you. So just something to think about, so off to Sonny, if he has anything to add.

Anish Shah (00:28:04):
Well, I’d like to, I’d like, I’d like to dive into one thing you, you sort of touched upon right there be, and then know, I’ll pass off to Sonny. I promise . But that’s actually the first time I’ve heard that, you know, VCs don’t really work that, that collaboratively within a firm. And so that’s, that’s really great insight. So to that vein, would that also mean as you make the transition from, let’s say your background and C level product roles into VC, that there isn’t really training that you sort of jump in and there’s not going to be someone who’s sort of looking over your shoulder too closely and you sort of have to just sink or swim.

Ha Nguyen (00:28:44):
Ah, that’s a hundred percent true. So so actually what’s interesting about an EIR role, as Sonny said, like there is nothing out there in the in in the internet, you know that sort of describes the role of a, of an EIR, what you’re supposed to do. What does success look like? Whereas like you can go to any product conference, you know, any product website and learn like what makes a successful PM? What is the role like, you know, how can you do your job better? Right. And so it, it really is like, you have to figure out like first and foremost, like what, what does that venture capital firm need most from you right now? And how can you add value to that VC firm, without anybody telling you what to do? Like you have to just figure it out on your own.

Ha Nguyen (00:29:33):
Right. And actually, I would say that you know, confidentially and I’ve talked to many, many E I like, some of them were not successful in their roles. Like some of them kind of like came in, expecting the partners to invite them in, you know to Foundry discussions and to the Monday meetings and kind of like, you know, tell them kind of like, here’s like the goals and here’s the plan. If that was what you are expecting when you land, you may not be successful in the role because oftentimes partners don’t have that time to do the, do the coaching to do the training. So really, I, I do think, I think my early stage startup background made me perfect for my EIR role and that like, you know what, like there is no roadmap, you know, I have to just figure this out myself. I have to figure out like you know, if the venture firm is my customer, what does that customer need and how can I be most helpful to my customer and deliver value and just figure it out, you know, without being asked or told what to do. And so that was how I approached the role. And I think that that’s how I found success in the role.

Anish Shah (00:30:36):
Amazing. Thanks for that. Does

Sonny Mayugba (00:30:37):
That, does that spot on,

Anish Shah (00:30:39):
Sorry, did that speak to both EIR and VC? And does that speak to both small firms and larger firms? Do you think?

Ha Nguyen (00:30:48):
Yeah, I would say that it, it, it does. I mean, certainly if you’re coming in as a partner into a, a venture firm you know, the expectation there is a little bit different than EIR in that, like you have to come and be sourcing deals, you know, like you have to be bringing in deals into the, into the firm and you have, to have, you know, the right combination of data got instinct to figure out the pick, right? Like how to evaluate companies. And nobody’s going to train you how to do that. Like, you know, it’s that combination of your experience and your network, that’s going to, you know, come in and, and add immediate value to the firm so that, you know, so if you are not as an, as an investing partner, if you are not good at deal sourcing and the deal pick, like, you know, you may not have a long career at that firm. Now if you come, you coming in at a lower level, like as an associate or, you know, senior associate or principal, you know, there may be a little bit more training, right? Cause you got partners that you’re working with who can kind of coach you in terms of how to do the role successfully. So

Anish Shah (00:31:57):
Thanks for that. Yeah. Sorry. And Sonny, you had some thoughts there as well.

Sonny Mayugba (00:32:01):
No, no, I’m just, it’s, you know, I’m currently in my role and I’m just resonating with everything Ha saying, you know, it’s the challenge people should be thinking about is because a lot of people do come from having been a founder is you’re going to go wide on many, not deep on one. That’s really the probably, you know, it’s a challenge for people to, you know, when you’re to Ha’s point, if you are the head of software engineering, you’re working on your product for your company, deep, deep, deep for 3, 5, 7 years right here every week you’re looking at hardware, emotional intelligence software, you know, packaging, telemed, FinTech, consumer marketplaces, and analytics, software platform, sales enablement, you know, education. So I mean like you’re looking at that kind of stuff every week and you need to sort of like try to get as deep as you can in a subject as quick as you can.

Sonny Mayugba (00:32:56):
So that’s a challenge, you know? And, and it’s a fun challenge, right? And, and, and then yeah, as the EIR role to Ha’s point, you know, you, you do need to come in and kind of go look at it a little bit like a startup and say, how am I adding value this week? You know, what did I accomplish this week that was meaningful and good? And that may move next week. , you know, it’s going to be something a little bit different or maybe more the same, but it it’s, it’s ever changing. And, and and the key is to be thinking of it that way. Like what value am I adding? What accomplishments can I point to this week?

Anish Shah (00:33:37):
Amazing. Thanks for that. So yeah, just to kinda summarize, like you just have to shorten the time span a little bit, right? If you’re, to your, to your, to your, to your sort of example, of being a director or head of software engineering, you might have a couple years to build an amazing product, you know, with what you guys are doing. It’s, it’s just, you’ve have to really shorten span. If something is really long term, it might not, might not be the right use of your time at that moment. So that’s really, really helpful. Thanks. Next one, as an operator, what skills and attributes can I develop now to help me align to a career as an EIR or VC?

Ha Nguyen (00:34:20):
I’m going to let Sonny take that one because it’s too easy for me to talk first.

Sonny Mayugba (00:34:25):
No, I, I mean, you you’ve been through all this Ha so I, I like when you kind of pave the road, it, it makes it easier for me, but, but yeah, I I’ll give you my perspective on this one. What skills and attributes, I mean, you know, number one, I can’t emphasize this enough as listening. You know, if you’re a founder or an operator, you tend to have your opinions and your bias and you want to come in and sit down and go, I’m awesome. I’m smart. I’m good. I’m talented. Let me go. Right. And you have to listen, like it’s so important. You need to listen.

Ha Nguyen (00:35:08):
I think we lost on, is that okay?

Sonny Mayugba (00:35:11):
Okay. I know. Yeah. I said I’ve learned so much in the last two months at Spero that it would’ve been very easy for me to have predisposed opinions on, right. Just really easy, right. You’re like, oh yeah, I’ve seen this. Oh, I’ve done this. Oh yeah. I know what you’re talking about. Oh yeah. Where you’ve got a, a, like a really important skill is listening. And then, you know, oh, that, that speed to that, that speed really, I mean, I would say speed navigate what needs to be done. How can I help? Not just adding value, but where can I help? And then, you know, focusing on those things and having the ability and discipline to not fall into the trap of, oh, I just want to be the hot guy who, who attracts deals or brings in a sexy founder or those types of things. How can I help is a really important attribute.

Ha Nguyen (00:36:12):
Yeah. I, I, I think that’s that’s right. I, I, a couple things to add. One is empathy. So I think the reason why VCs love to bring on past founders and past operators you know, into this role is because you’ve been there, you know, you’ve lived the journey. And so you bring that credibility, you know, in, when you are put in front of a whole portfolio of founders, you know who like haven’t done it before. You know, but you have, so it’s not just experience though. It is really that empathy of like, look, I get it. Like I have been in your shoes, I’ve done this, you know, I’ve gone through the highs and and experienced lows and I’ve gotten you know, like my, like lifetime of like no’s and rejections, you know from investors, from customers, from employees. So I totally get it, you know, I hear you, you know, and the journey is hard and you know, and it’s not easy, but here’s kind of, you know, how we figured this out or here’s the experiments that we ran and, you know, and so I think just having that, you know, credibility and empathy and experience, I think goes a long way.

Anish Shah (00:37:37):
That’s great. Yeah. I mean, you can look at, you can look at a startup, you can look at a founder’s journey more than just numbers, kind of on a balance sheet. You can understand the, the inner workings of what’s going on with them probably better than someone who’s not actually done that before and can’t necessarily step in their shoes. So that’s really great. Yeah, I think you know, I think both of you guys maybe gave a little bit of background on this in your, in your kind of earlier bio. Do you think there’s anything extra to add into this question? Or should we just move on to the next one?

Sonny Mayugba (00:38:20):
I’m good. Well, it’s up to Ha

Anish Shah (00:38:22):
Yeah, I think, think we’ve already touched upon this. Yeah,

Sonny Mayugba (00:38:24):
Yeah, yeah. We’re good.

Anish Shah (00:38:30):
This is fascinating. And I think it, it, it, it really, I think there’s a lot of codified language also that goes into the “typical VC profile” to, to, to definitely address in both good and really terrible things I’ve heard from VCs who’ve, who’ve talked about the typical VC profile or even the typical founder profile. So, so I think this is a really good one. So how can I get into VC? Is there a typical VC profile characters, characteristics background, or, or Myer Myers Briggs?

Ha Nguyen (00:39:03):
Sonny sounds like you want to go first.

Sonny Mayugba (00:39:05):
No, no, actually I was pointing at you. This is so right. This is, this is Ha, Ha can answer this. I mean, my, my only thing I would say here, and this is from just my perspective is, you know, be a-typical listen a lot, but be a-typical and, you know, be unique and, and definitely, I mean, Myers Briggs is interesting to bring that up. Definitely understanding your, your communications method and others’ communication method is powerful in, in, in any role in, in the world. But this is a good question for Ha

Ha Nguyen (00:39:35):
Okay. So I think it’s a two part question. So the first question is actually, how can I get into VC? So I’ll address that first and then I’ll address the second part of the question. So how can I get into VC? So so I think this two path, right? So the first path is the typical path and that path is, you know, a VC really, really well. And they have experience in working with you, seeing what you’re all about, you know, like having maybe partnered with you in your journey, whatever that journey was, you know, was right. Whether it was entrepreneur or executive, but they got to, to see you in action. So that sort of path is one where and this is the typical path, unfortunately, that’s where you get invited into the VC firm because they, you know, they know you know, they have that experience and they know that you’re going to be awesome, you know?

Ha Nguyen (00:40:29):
And so you get invited in that way. That’s hard, you know, that’s a harder path to follow because there’s a little bit of luck involved, but you know, if that’s the path, right? Like I think that the lesson there is, you know, do what you can to get that exposure to your venture investors, right? So like, if you are an executive at a startup, like, can you sit in on those board meetings? You know, like, can you contribute, you know, but not in a disruptive way to the conversation. Can you, you know reach out from time to time and grab coffee with your, you know, your VC board member, right? Like build that relationship, you know, and, you know, don’t be invisible. You know, and obviously if you’re a founder, you know, it’s easier because they’ve invested in you and they’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with you, but just really think about building those relationships up front because those are the relationships that will hopefully pay off dividends down the road.

Ha Nguyen (00:41:29):
The second path I think is a harder path, but you know, like Sonny and I never worked together before I invited Sonny into Spero Ventures to become an EIR. But that second path, right. Is like, if you think about what adds value to VCs and what they’re looking for, then you can start thinking about like the types of activities that you can be doing now. Right? So number one, what do they care about? They care about deal flow. So you know, the, the more you can connect yourself with founders and be immersed in the founder ecosystem and, you know, and be part of different founder communities that can only help, right? Like you know, because then you have already built, you know, a network of founders and, and relationships with founders, right. And, and that can be anything that could be being an advisor to startups, that could be angel investing in startups, that could be maybe volunteering at an accelerator and, and you know, and, and applying your skillset to that accelerator.

Ha Nguyen (00:42:33):
But like the more you can connect yourself with, you know, what’s called deal flow. I think the, the more that that will help. And then on the other front, you know, I think it’s what I think most people in this call are during all the time, which is like building your functional domain, you know, or your industry knowledge, you know, or whatever expertise, right. Because that expertise and that knowledge will be valuable to VC firm. You just have to make sure that like they know about it. Right. And so my expertise was product. You know, I know that I, well, I hope , I’m helpful to my portfolio companies, you know when it comes to the world of product and I do bring 16 years of that credibility and expertise there. But I, I would say that the one thing I didn’t do that, like in hindsight, maybe I should be doing, if I, especially, if you think about a career in VC is like, start writing about like your knowledge or expertise, right?

Ha Nguyen (00:43:35):
Like you have knowledge and expertise that needs to get out into the world and you can start building your personal brand around it. So start writing, go and start speaking. Right? Like build that personal brand. And I think about like Casey Winters, that’s kind of how he did it. Right? Like, so not only did he work at amazing companies like GrubHub and then Pinterest, but all the time he was writing, he was speaking, he was being helpful to startups. And so when Greylock found out about him, they were like, yeah, Casey, come, come hang out with us. Right. So I feel like I’m going to stop speaking and leave the second question to Sonny, so.

Sonny Mayugba (00:44:17):
What do you mean, second question? The, what? The typical profile, I think you

Ha Nguyen (00:44:20):
Just, yeah, I think the answer here is like, there is no typical profile, right? Yeah. So I think there’s no typical profile you know, like some people get lucky and they get into VC, others end up like myself starting their own venture firm. And that could, you know, you could be an extrovert, you can be an introvert, you can, you know, be a thinker, you could be a filler, you could be any number of those different profiles and they’re all needed in that, in the world. Right? Like you need diverse VCs to bring different perspectives, to be investing in different things. Like I would say, I would hate for all VCs to look the same. So

Sonny Mayugba (00:44:54):
That’s my, yeah, totally agree.

Anish Shah (00:44:57):
I mean, speaking to that, I mean I think one of the big takeaways I took away from what you mentioned Ha, was that relationships really matter. And I think if you go, if you’re going to go far in any career, you know, it, it, it can be difficult to just focus on your day to day job and not make relationships to the left, right, and above and below you. And make relationships outside of whatever organization you’re in and just continue to grow those relationships. But you touch upon something that’s pretty interesting. You also mentioned that the, a typical VC or not a typical, but a, but a high, high quality VC could also be, you know, a little bit more of an introvert and could be a little bit more kind of you know, a little bit more bookish, whatever that might be.

Anish Shah (00:45:41):
So how would that play into it if someone and, and, you know, I, I, I, I meet and I hear from a lot of people who feel like they contribute a lot to their companies. But they’re not necessarily loud. They don’t necessarily ask for the praise. They don’t necessarily promote themselves. And they don’t necessarily go out and like cold email people or do the coffee rounds, or, you know, do, do all the networking. And they sometimes feel like they’re being left behind in, in, in some aspects. How does that play into VC if you kind of don’t go out and do a lot of like the hands shaking, could that, do you maybe play a different role if that’s the case or you grow into that or I’d love to get your thoughts?

Ha Nguyen (00:46:25):
Yeah, yeah. A few things. So number one Sonny and I joke about this all the time. So I’m a closeted introvert. I know you guys don’t believe me, but I really am like in the Myers Briggs, I like lean introvert. I mean, some way in the middle by lean introvert. But Sonny and I always joke that, like, you know, we’re working with a team full of introverts , so you can be an introvert and be successful in the role. Right. Like you know, because there is more than just like getting out there in the world, you know, there is the pick, you know, so like you have to be deeply analytical, you know, you have to also have you know, if you’re working with a portfolio it’s often in a one-on-one setting, which is perfect for introverts, by the way.

Ha Nguyen (00:47:04):
So like, you know, so you don’t need to be extroverted. Having said that, you know, and I, I talk to my team about this all the time, which is, you know, for founders to learn about Spero Ventures, you know, to come to us, you know and, and, you know, and give us the privilege of of possibly investing in their companies. We do have to like, build that muscle and get out there into the world, right. And like develop our thesis, but then also publish our thesis, you know participate in events, speak, et cetera. And so you can be an introvert and learn how to build that muscle. And, and, and honestly, I think you do need to build that muscle, right. If you’re going to be successful, at least at part of the venture role, not everything like, you know, like the, the other two things of like the deal picking and the portfolio support, you can be introverted all you want and that’s perfectly fine. But for the deal flow, sourcing, brand building, I, I do think you just have to build that muscle.

Sonny Mayugba (00:48:08):
Yeah. And I, and I’ll add to that, you know, what’s embedded in your question is clicks and bubbles, right. When I think about maybe traditional VC, it was, you know, as, as Ha described, in our first example, it was who you knew, you know, were you groomed for it? You know, were, was it legacy you know, kind of a click. And I think what’s been happening especially the last five years is that, and I think for the, for the, for the better, by the way, that there’s an amazing talent that lives outside of Silicon valley, there’s amazing talent outside of New York. You know, my company was based in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who probably no one on here has ever even heard of. It’s a city of 70,000 people. And there’s people there I’m, I’m picturing, you know, our analytics person, I’m picturing our, our our Head of Software actually.

Sonny Mayugba (00:49:07):
And our Chief Architect. I mean, incredible talents that have built companies at scale are very young, incredibly smart, and probably would really do good at some point, getting into VC. Well, one of them, my, my friend, Travis Boudreau, actually Head of Software is starting to participate. So he’s joined a syndicate he’s. And, and that’s really, the key is it’s, it’s about starting to participate. If you, if you stay invisible, how can anyone know about you? What I think is happening is maybe people outside the bubblers starting to participate a little more, and that doesn’t mean building a massive personal brand. It’s about participating in building relationships. And I think, you know, Silicon valley is looking outside of the Valley a little bit more, and the more we can do that, the more we can create a global ecosystem and surface, super talented people that wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to be get into VC.

Anish Shah (00:50:02):
That’s really great. I appreciate that. And also, I, I actually, I appreciate what Ha said that it’s not, it may not be innate for everyone to just be the super networker, but it’s something you grow and improve at and just probably slowly get more comfortable and then realize over time. Oh, Hey, it’s not that big of a deal for me to send a cold email to this person or get coffee with this person who I don’t know, because I’ve done 50 of them already. It’s totally fine. But those first, like I’ve noticed when some people haven’t done that before getting them to do that first one or two or three is, can be like pulling teeth because in their head. They’re like, what if this person doesn’t want to get coffee? What if my, the, the big thing I get, I hear from a lot of people, well, I don’t want to bug that person. Well, alright, well that’s going to, that mentality’s going to really hold you back.

Ha Nguyen (00:50:45):
Anish, just one thing to just to sort of flop into that though. So don’t think about like any coffee or any relationship that you try to build, you know, as like bugging somebody, in fact, like the mindset that you should have is like, how can I add value to this person? You know, like however I can, right. Like, so so, you know, one way to add value is just educate them and make them smarter about something that, you know, better than they do. Right. Like that is, you know, that’s going to go a long way, right too, like be a nice kind, genuine, human being, you know, like somebody who like they, you know, would love to grab beers with. Right? Like, and so if you shift to that dynamic, which is like, Hey, you know, like, you know, I, I might be an introvert, but like I have knowledge, expertise, a network, I have, you know, I am who I am. I bring something of value to this world and I’m going to help the, the person on the other side, you know, with something, you know, that shifts that dynamic and may hopefully like gets you out of your own head. And that’s what people are looking for. Right. They’re looking for like authentic, genuine human connection. You know, and hopefully like a give and take, not just a, just a, you know, just a, a give relationship.

Anish Shah (00:52:05):
Yeah. and I I’ve, I’ve generally had this thesis for a while and I’d love to hear if you guys either agree or disagree. But that your relationships and the relationships you consistently go after and build and grow will actually take you a lot farther in any career than expertise or knowledge. Now that might be bold going on one, one area, you know, and discounting the other. But it is something I have seen in other people who’ve grown rapidly. It’s based off of who they know and who, who, I guess the trust that they’ve created within communities. And it speaks to, you know, one of the questions we have in the chat here about you know, what is the best way to double click into building analytical deal, picking muscle and what, you know, how do you understand investment thesis what are good examples of communities to be plugged into?

Anish Shah (00:52:54):
I think those are all great things to learn, but if you don’t have the network and you don’t get opportunities based off of your network, and if you haven’t learned how to big build relationships, you’re probably not going to get into the situation where you’re even in a place to have to have an investment thesis. You know, you’re, I would say that’s a great question to ask as you’re getting those opportunities, but if you want to be in that, in that situation, you know, you’ve have to really start meeting people like Ha like Sonny and, and get out of your comfort zone. So yeah.

Ha Nguyen (00:53:26):
Yeah. I just I mean, just one very tactical piece of advice, honestly, like, you know, if, if you don’t feel comfortable going out and speaking, right. Or even writing right now, you haven’t built that muscle yet. I mean, I, I strongly encourage you put together, you know, put aside five hours of your week and I think everybody can put aside five hours. Right. And just reach out to people and see if they would grab coffee, maybe you’ll start with like, people you haven’t connected with in quite a while. Right. But like who you’ve admired, who would, who who’s been your mentor, maybe an old boss, like reconnect with them, you know, tell them what you want, ask them for their help. And then at the end of the conversation, say like, Hey, you know, given what I told you, you know, like, is there somebody that, you know, in your network that you think I should connect with, like, you know, who, you know and you know, and ask them to do that intro for you. Right. And if you do five of those coffee sessions every week for a year, you are going to build that network. And it was easy. It was a one-on-one, right? Like even if you’re an introvert, it was a one-on-one conversation. That was a, a, a genuine connection, you know, between you and that other person. So.

Anish Shah (00:54:36):
Absolutely. And you never know what, you never know who that person on the other end is going to be and what they could potentially help you out with and how you could potentially help them out with some level of karma. A story I frequently tell is roughly half of our New York business is literally based off one person. I cold emailed one person grabbed coffee with him. He’s driven a significant amount of introductions and new business for us. And all it took was one cold email. And of course I’ve sent four other cold emails to people who never responded. But you know, when you, when you look at that overall story, if I would’ve gotten discouraged by not getting a response or getting, you know, “rejected,” I would’ve ever met that fifth person. So

Ha Nguyen (00:55:16):
Yeah. And then I think you and I met that way, right? Like we’re part of the Greylock Growth Community. And I had, I think I had responded to somebody’s email and then you reached out or maybe your email, then you reached out. I was like, oh, Hey, Ha, I was looking at your LinkedIn profile. You seem kinda like a cool gal, you know, like, Hey, let’s grab coffee. And I was like, now I’m of course I was going to say yes. So like we grabbed coffee, we hit it off and look at like, you know what, we’ve kind of collaborated on together since. Sonny was the same way actually. So Sonny I, I don’t know if, if you shared the story of how we met, but Sonny was managing director at Launch, which is Jason Calacanis launch accelerator.

Ha Nguyen (00:55:58):
He was part of the judging panel. I was part of the judging panel, like afterwards, like me being my closeted introvert, all I wanted to do after sort of judging the the accelerator pitches was pack up my bags and like leave just so I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody. And then Sonny came up to me and was like, Hey, you know, Hey, I like your questions. And you know, I’d love to get to know you and let’s just exchange emails and hop on a zoom. And that’s what we did. And, and there you go, here we are now we’re friends and we are work colleagues. So you just never know have to put yourself out there.

Anish Shah (00:56:29):
Absolutely. Yeah. And, and, and then that, that, yeah, I hope if anyone takes anything away from this, if you are looking to get into a position like Ha or Sonny, you need to meet people because people are the ones who give you opportunities. You know, you might have read every book on earth about how to do the job or studied a ton of investment thesis. But if you don’t know someone like them to give you that opportunity it’s going to be difficult. And also when you talk, the, the, the biggest thing I’ve learned also is you, I’ve learned a lot more from one-on-one conversations than reading what people post publicly, because what people post publicly let’s say through their blog or a book is often a very filtered version of, of, of the truth. And very often when you’re able to get a one-on-one with someone at a coffee shop, they’ll tell you what the real story was.

Anish Shah (00:57:19):
And you’ll learn a lot about how the sausage is made within a lot of industries. Because obviously if there was an ugly side to that truth, a lot of people are very sensitive about that information getting out, but you’ll be surprised how insensitive people are insensitive is the wrong word, but how you know, how open people are when you get them one-on-one and they’ll just spill the beans. So if you’re trying to learn how something works, of course, sure. Read what people post, but do really, you know, if you find someone who’s work you really enjoy, or, you know, whose perspective or career you really respect, really try to get them in a one-on-one conversation because you’ll learn a lot more of the real story there and that’ll help that can help guide your, your sort of path as, as well. Oh, interesting. What is one area and market opportunity you’re looking at now that you are bullish on, but feel that is not talked about enough, what’s that secret kind of industry you’re, you’re investing in that nobody knows, and that you’re going to tell everybody about so they can go and chase after it as well.

Ha Nguyen (00:58:34):
Okay. I guess I’m going to take that one unless you want to Sonny. So yeah, so we first of all, let me just start with sharing a little bit more about our investment areas at Spero Ventures. So we say that we invest in the things that make life worth living and it’s founders who are working on up area on amazing startups in three core areas. The first is wellbeing. So that’s health of people in the planet. The second is work and purpose and that’s investments in the future work and upskilling. And then third is human connection. And that’s tech that brings people together and in that third bucket. And, and so I’m going to answer this, the question here. We have spent a lot of time looking at sort of our invi investment thesis in human connection, and what we’ve come up with is this concept of product led communities which we developed our thesis.

Ha Nguyen (00:59:35):
We’ve put it out there. So if you’re interested you could Google and, and look up Spero Ventures, product-led communities. And then the idea behind that is that you know, we believe that amazing opportunities are going to be found when you are building a product or service, that’s 10 times better than, you know, existing product and services that are out there, but that you wrap a community layer around it. Right. and that community helps to improve themselves through your product, but then also helps each other, you know? And so the classic example honestly, is like Peloton, right? Like Peloton is an exercise bike, and it has cool instructors, but there’s a community layer that you kind of feel like when you are riding the bike and even outside of your exercise experience. Right. And so that’s, you know, sort of the notion of a product led community.

Ha Nguyen (01:00:31):
We think that there’s really, really cool opportunities for investment there. We’re excited if you’re building a product like community, we want to talk to you. And then related to that thesis, we think that there’s picks and shovels opportunities, you know, for platforms who are enabling communities, you know, for other startups. And you’re providing the, the tools and the infrastructure. That’s super exciting for us too. And so I mentioned that one in particular, because I don’t think very many VCs are talking about it. And in fact, like when we published our thesis around it, people were like, oh, more VCs should be looking at this area. And, and so we’ve been able to get a bunch of founders who are building awesome startups in this area to come, come talk to us and build the relationships early. So.

Sonny Mayugba (01:01:21):
Awesome. Yeah. And yeah, that’s, that’s so, so awesome. And, and kind of honing into another perspective too. What, one thing that I’m actually really intrigued on is which fits right into this is how AR and VR are going to affect work and purpose. So I think, I think this is something I’m pretty bullish on that. I think we’ve, I mean, I don’t know if it’s, if it’s not been talked about, I think it’s probably been talked about a ton, but I do believe that what we’re seeing and, and COVID-19 is actually accelerating some of this we’re, we’re going to see 16 year olds of today function very differently than 30 year olds function when they get into call it mainstream society. So how they interview for jobs, how they build relationships with people and, and maybe even how they actually get work done and get projects created. And I think a, of that’s going to be driven driven by AR and VR. So I think that’s an interesting one.

Anish Shah (01:02:27):
Do you have any examples of companies who are sort of already on that path or you’re seeing doing a good job of that?

Sonny Mayugba (01:02:34):
Yeah, I mean, I, I guess you could say zoom, but that’s kind of seems like an obvious answer. I don’t know that I’ve, I, I, I looked at a, a young startup. I can’t quite remember the name right now, but they essentially were doing virtual reality conferences and with like full avatars and this really incredible three-dimensional interface and it was, and it was, it was interestingly timed. Right. I think I looked at this, I don’t, two months ago and, and, and forgive me for not remember the name of the company, but and it’s, it’s a company in market right now and, and essentially it’d be like, so let’s say we all went to Launch Festival as, as a conference, right. In real life. You’d go to, you know, the piers know Crissy field in San Francisco and there’d be the startup pit and then the main stage, and then the small stage, right. Like all the tech conferences we’ve all been to. So they’ve sort of taken that and given you, oh, in the networking area, the press area, they’ve created that in VR. Right. And, and then you’re living it in real time. So I think we’re starting to see those types of things. I’ve also seen some companies that are doing, you know, job interviews remotely through AR and VR. I mean, I, I think, I think those types of things are going to be, are going to be really cool.

Audience Member (01:03:52):
So Sonny, are, are you kind of talking about like a second life for like work and collaboration? Is that kind of part of the vision there?

Sonny Mayugba (01:04:01):
Yeah. I don’t know. Maybe I think, I think it’s going to go, I think it’s going to go deeper into the fall under the picks and shovels platform that that Ha was talking about in, in, in enablement tools. But what I, what I see, what I’m bullish about is it’s going to change the way that we’ve typically done things, right. So when I interviewed at Facebook, you know, you interview on VC, which is pretty standard these days, and then you go in for face-to-face interviews, you know, with four different people and you get ranked and rated and, you know, the, the typical process, I think job interviews are going to be very different. I’m not sure exactly how they’re going to look, but I think they’re going to be different. And I think that that could go into, I mean, jobs are a lot of the way we spend our time. Right. It’s maybe a third of your time or maybe more, or if you’re Ha, it’s like 90% of your time. Bon on bumps. But you know, I, so I, yeah, I don’t know if it’s full on second life, but I think it’s, it’s going to affect different elements in, in the way we do things in our life.

Anish Shah (01:05:05):
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And I think the, the process of getting through a job interview, obviously that something we’re intimately kind of like dealing with right now, in terms of how, how fast or how slow a process goes. I think, I think there’s going to be a lot of tools to, to speed up that whole process and get candidates from the beginning to the end, a lot more rapidly and, or have either side realize that that, that particular candidate is not a fit. There’s already companies kind of doing initial, like, you know, five minute video interviews right after someone fills out an application online just which helps kind of hear someone clarify their thoughts. So little steps like that I can imagine are, are, are going to have I think have a pretty decent impact and on operationally and efficient in, in terms of efficiency. So we are actually over now about nine minutes. I don’t know how you guys feel. Are, are you guys kind of a little, little tight on time right now? I’m sure. I, I totally understand if some of the audience wants to, wants to sort of move on to their next thing. Let me know. I have your thoughts.

Ha Nguyen (01:06:07):
Yeah. So just Anish, just to you, I think I can do another 10 minutes. My husband’s been calling me, all the, so probably let’s do another 10 minutes of, of questions from the chat. And then I just want to offer up, if your question doesn’t get answered, or if you have to jump off now, which is no problem, shoot me or Sonny an email, we would be happy to answer your question also via email.

Anish Shah (01:06:29):
Great. And we’ll put all of our emails in the chat here as well. So, so someone can have access for all of us. Great. Let’s jump onto the next question, or actually, sorry, you mentioned taking questions from the chat.

Sonny Mayugba (01:06:43):
Yeah. Yeah, that’d be good. Let’s, let’s do some of these people who spent their valuable time joining us and, and we can answer some of their questions.

Anish Shah (01:06:51):
Okay, great. So as VCs, you also have to manage up what conversations are you having with your LPs? Here’s an interesting one. Have you ever had a fire, an LP or investor, or have you ever wanted to.

Ha Nguyen (01:07:06):
Okay. I think Cynthia asked that question, right?

Anish Shah (01:07:08):

Ha Nguyen (01:07:09):
Okay. Cynthia , I think you might know the answer to this one. Spero Venture is a little bit unique in that we only have a sole LP that LP is Pierre Omidyar. Who’s the founder of eBay who made his billions and wants to deploy his wealth, making the world better. So he has a like investments in a dozen, a couple dozen, probably different entities, Spero Ventures being one of his entities that then goes out and invests in awesome purpose driven companies on Pierre’s behalf. So we’re a little bit different or actually very different than 99% of venture firms in that we don’t have to go out and raise from other LPs or LPs being limited partners who would be investors in in fund managers. And we don’t have to do that. And the nice thing is that Pierre and is completely mission and values align with Spero and our ethos. So there’s never been a conflict, which is nice.

Anish Shah (01:08:15):
Okay. Awesome. Let me see, there’s a question here about what is the range of deal terms between an EIR and a VC firm? I’m sure that could go a million different directions with every single deal and with everyone’s unique agreement with their firm. But I think, I think he’s just sort of looking for any sort of idea how that even works.

Ha Nguyen (01:08:41):
Sorry, is the deal by deal terms? You mean like compensation or, or who, whoever asked the question, if you want to unmute and just clarify.

Audience Member (01:08:50):
Sure. Yeah, I asked the question. Yeah. I was interested to hear more about the structure and I know like he said it can range I’m sure. From one VC firm and one EIR relationship to another, but since for like compensation or like, is it like a percentage of deals brought in?

Ha Nguyen (01:09:06):
Got it. Okay. So yeah, so specifically compensation. Okay. Got it. Let me, let me take this one. So so Sonny, you know, like is on stipend with us, you know, so, and I promise you he could be working anywhere else and be making five to 10 times as much. . So he’s certainly not here for the comp but he is sort of stipend and that’s typically an EIR role is what I’ve seen is it is a stipend role. So kind of like this flat thing you could be making a lot more by, you know, being in the executive at even early mid stage startup, but you are, you are at the venture firm for other reasons. You know, sometimes it comes with benefits, sometimes it doesn’t, you know, oftentimes it’ll come with like, you know, business cards and other perks for let let’s say if you are full time at a venture firm and let’s just talk about partner roles for a second it is a combination of salary and what’s called carry or carried interest in in the fund.

Ha Nguyen (01:10:12):
And what carried interest is, is that you will collect a percentage of the net profits that are generated from investments that you make in the, you know in the fund, you know, minus any expenses that you incurred over the 10 year life of the fund. And minus obviously the investment capital that you put into your startup ups, right? So you put 50 million of capital into you know, into various startup ups. You also generated fees. The fees are 2%. Every year you had to pay for your salaries and office space, and travel, and events, and parties. That 2% also gets deducted. So like say over the course of 10 years, that was 5 million bucks, let’s say, you know, so if you invested 50 million, you generated a hundred million, but there was 5 million of expenses over the course of 10 years, the profits are 45 million, 80%, you know, there’s this 80, 20 rule, 80% will go back to the LPs or the investors in the fund of that 45 million in net profits.

Ha Nguyen (01:11:19):
And then 20% will get split among the partners of the firm. So there’s something in venture called power law where like, you know, if I, you know, if we got, say 45 million in net profit split between me and my four partners, you know, that’s nice. We could probably buy a house in, you know, Martha’s vineyard or Napa, whatever, but we certainly can’t buy our, like, you know, our jet and our yacht. And so there is something called power laws where we’re looking for not just, you know, to return two x or three X the fund, you know, but hopefully five or 10 or 20 X the fund by investing in like, you know, that outlier company, you know, the, the Zoom, the Slacks, you know, the, the Facebooks of the world and that’s where all the, all of the wealth is created.

Anish Shah (01:12:09):
Awesome. Thanks for that answer right there. And I actually had never heard of power law before, so that’s really good. So circling back to the very beginning of the chat both Ha and Sonny had offered to take meetings with any any founders within the black or Latino communities. So their email address is there. And because they specifically want to help those underrepresented founders be able to get, get more access. And hopefully, you know, even if they’re not the ones to write the check, they, they could potentially introduce you to the one, to the person who will write the check. And our organization would love to help that population as well, get, get better jobs. So if you yourself are a hiring manager, who’s looking to, to grow your team and really want to help, you know, bringing folks who are part of those communities, specifically the black and Latinx communities, we would love to be able to support you with, with more of that.

Anish Shah (01:13:05):
More of those people who could, who could fill in your team. And then on the other side you know, maybe if you are part of those communities and you are having trouble getting a job or would like to get into tech and don’t know how you know, my email address is there for both of those situations. And we’ll do our best with that. With that I really want to thank both Ha and Sonny for, for joining us here. They were given, they’ve given more than their allotted amount of time. And so they’ve been with us for over an hour, asked a ton of questions and if there’s any closing thoughts you know, feel free. But this has been amazing and I’ve learned ton.

Ha Nguyen (01:13:40):
Yeah, I, my closing thought is that, you know, feel free to connect with Sonny and I LinkedIn, Twitter, you know, email love to hear from you. And I think I convinced Anish to send out a net promoter score survey sometime after this, hopefully before the end of the day to collect feedback because I’m a big fan of like listening to your customer and and improving by learning how we can do things better. So please do fill that out. Sonny?

Sonny Mayugba (01:14:11):
Classic, that’s classic. Ha, she’s NPS obsessed and it’s good stuff. So thanks for doing that. An I just closing thoughts I want to thank you and grace and the team at Bring Ruckus for having us really appreciate it. And to all you founders out there never give up, don’t quit. Don’t die. Keep going. It’s hard. We’ve all been there. It’s really hard, but you will get there. And to everybody else, who’s…

Ha Nguyen (01:14:38):
That’s true for non founders too, right?

Sonny Mayugba (01:14:40):
That’s right. That’s right. And for everybody else, who’s just out there doing it. Don’t give up, don’t die. Don’t give in, keep going. It’s really hard right now, but let’s stay together. Let’s get through this crazy time. Let’s make this world a little bit better and and like Ha said anybody doing anything awesome. Anything great. Shoot us an email. We’d love to know about it. So thanks for having us.

Ha Nguyen (01:15:04):
Thanks everybody. Thanks everyone.

Sonny Mayugba (01:15:07):
Have a great week.

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