A successful venture business is not just about making the right individual investment decisions, it’s about building a robust company culture that arrives at the right investment decision over and over again. Since its start, RAISE has used the word entrepreneur to define the emerging manager.  A new firm has the same challenges as any startup – focus, differentiation, culture, accountability, efficacy, etc.

On Thursday May 9th, over 250 fund entrepreneurs and limited partners will gather in the Presidio. We can think of no better start to the day than hearing from one of the most accomplished leaders in the venture industry, Scott Sandell of NEA.

Scott has been a General Partner at NEA since 2000 and was named by Forbes to the Midas List of Top Tech Investors every year since 2007. He has 24 successful exits, serves on over a dozen notable boards, and drives investment decisions both domestically and in China.

If you haven’t already registered for RAISE in the Presidio 2019, please do so. Every year we sell out quickly.

Hello!

You haven’t heard from us in a while. But not for lack of activity. In fact we’ve been heads down for months, carefully planning RAISE 2019: May 9th at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio.

When we launched RAISE I in 2015, we didn’t know whether there would be a market for an intimate gathering of emerging fund managers and interested LPs. We actually worried that no one would show up. The fact that we “sell out” our VIP invites every year within the first week and that GPs tried to crash our first and every conference since, suggests that we are indeed curating a valuable experience and network.

One decision we’ve debated every year is conference format. Specifically: how much of the day do we shine a light on emerging fund managers, via “Pitch Tracks”, vs. feature speaker panels and keynote speakers. What we’ve come to realize, thanks to your survey feedback and attendance data is that, no matter how stellar our programming lineup, the key RAISE conference differentiator at RAISE is our spotlight on the best in-market, emerging fund investment opportunities.

Accordingly, we have redesigned the event to be primarily a GP Pitch Day. We will start off with our much sought after RAISE Insights presentation highlighting GP and LP data and trends (see last year’s summary here) followed by an inspirational morning fireside chat. The bulk of the afternoon will consist of 40-50 carefully filtered Fund Pitches, in parallel tracks.

In high demand last year, we will also offer early sign-up for small group break-out sessions with the most sought after LPs and veteran fund entrepreneurs.

And then there’s the RAISE After Party. If you haven’t received an invitation in prior years, request one here. Save the Date: May 9th!

When I started sharing the idea of a “demo day” for new venture capitalists back in 2015, most of my colleagues were against it. Even my best friend, who was grinding towards a first close on a $100M first-time fund, turned me down. There were many objections. Some said there was no way venture capitalists would share their track records. Some thought participation would be a negative signal. Some said venture capitalists wouldn’t share the stage with other venture capitalists.

Like Steve Jobs once said, however, I have learned in the past three years that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

In our first year, we were cautious. We created only 9 time slots of 10 minutes each and used big tables to make the room feel busy. We figured we could plead to get nine firms to present. We kept other VCs out of the room to make the presenters feel more comfortable. In the end, we had about thirty funds that wanted to present, which exceeded our expectations. Many of the firms selected went on to raise new funds, including Next World Capital, Eco Integrity and Material Impact.

For the second year, we reduced the time down to five minutes slots and opened 30 time slots. This change was good. The pace was right. We opened the doors so everyone could attend, which created great energy in the room. The day was long, but not too long. Over 70 firms wanted to present. Many firms went on to successful raise new funds.

This year we once again have over 80 applicants for 30 slots. Many people have asked how we select the presenters. It’s not easy. This is not about picking the 30 “best” funds. That is not our goal.

Rather, we try to select a group of presenters who can appeal to the wide variety of LPs in the audience. Our audience ranges from individual investors making $250K investments up to large pensions and endowments. We want there to be something for everyone: generalist, thematic, early-stage and growth, first and second funds, spin-outs from established firms, and of course we want a diversity that reflects the future of venture capital.

The most common reason why funds aren’t selected is a lack of detailed information. If you only submit a one-page summary of your firm, chances are you are not going to be selected because someone else gave us more information.

The second most common reason funds aren’t selected is due to a lack of differentiation among a large number of similar funds. Last year, for example, we had ten new thematic funds focused on artificial intelligence. I think we picked two.

All things being roughly equal, we will give more weight to the track record of course.

I wish we had a slot for everyone. Maybe next year we will figure out a way to make that happen.

Can you really tell if an LP is close to a commitment or just showing you some “LP love?”

Fundraising truly is an art.  Ask anyone who has gone through it…there are investors who come into the fund that you never expected and others that you were confident were going to commit, but in the end don’t.

This year we’ll highlight two different conversations between a GP and one of their key LPs. I’ll be engaging in a discussion with Carmichael Roberts (Material Impact) and Jessica Reed Saouaf (Hall Capital) will be with Kirsten Green (Forerunner) talking about the fundraising journey:  getting to know each other, going through the diligence process, getting to the finish line, and the story of our continuing LP/GP relationships.

As co-producers of the programming for RAISE, Joanna Drake of Core Venture Partners and I are excited to offer these insightful discussions.

I look forward to seeing you all in the Presidio on May 10th!

Lisa Edgar (Top Tier Capital Partners)

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