Pascal Levy-Garboua, currently the Venture Partner at Long Journey Ventures, talks about his previous experiences with both - fundraising and building companies in general. We also talked about what Long Journey Ventures likes to invest in and those who are good fit can ping Pascal and LJV using links below.
Pascal's Twitter: https://twitter.com/2pasc
Long Journey Ventures' Twitter: https://twitter.com/LongJourneyVC
And today's, a guest speaker, we have venture partner at long journey Ventures. And this app is, we'll talk about investment thesis what major mistakes he sees while reviewing pitch decks.
What are the major things that he actually looks in while reviewing those speech decks? And a lot of other fun stuff about me. See, so let's kick it off by giving us some background on yourself and on long journey Ventures.
Myself, I'm I've been in tech for 17 years.
I've been mostly a founder of 2 companies, 1 successfully acquired by Nuance communications.
1 of the 1st chat bot companies back into between 2 and 314 and another 1 was on demand delivery company didn't make it called 6 stores. I've also been.
An executive at a unicorn called Checker, which is a background check company that runs background check for over Amazon and many hours. 12000.
12000 or, I think 15000 companies now using checker and 400 people.
I joined when we were 8,
and also I've been an angel investor initially with my own money and then later on,
I raised a small seed fund food platform AngelList and now I'm a venture partner at long journey Ventures.
I've made 120 investments already a few unicorns, including Checker, including notion.
Where was I was also part of a 1st round and, and many others with foundations of I think I have 15 companies or 18 companies with valuations, North of 100M dollars.
And long journey Ventures is a fun. It's a new fund. It's just 1 year old. Um. And it's a fun bio lead Jacobs and sign.
Lee sign, and I met all at the AngelList in different capacities me, as an investor on the platform working as partners with people like me on the platform scien and her husband.
Scott are some of the best angel investors in the world's differently in Silicon Valley in the US we have invested in 14 unicorns.
Including space X.
Um, Affirm, Postmates and many, many hours and Lee as well, as a few of his partners are also a long time.
Investor is very respected in Silicon Valley with and names, like, Fitbit and others under their belt. So we've.
Assembled this dream team of operators and investors, and we're helping companies in preceded seeds mostly based in the us some based in Europe.
Nice that's a really decent background and.
I won't actually like to start with that 1 company that didn't work out.
As everyone knows, I like discussing failures and how those happens. So, 1st question is why do you think that company that didn't really play out? Why did they have and why didn't work? Well, well.
I think that I made an assumption a big assumption in my so so just to give you some background. So if this company was called 6 doors, and it was.
The goal was to allow consumers to find items available in the stores in city and get it delivered. Same day.
And so the idea was to bring the joy of browsing fruit shelves of boutique stores in your sea, and get it delivered same day without moving.
From your phone, or from your computer, the reality of.
The use case ended up being more of a give delivery platform so people were not buying for himself. They were buying for gifts for their family, or for their friends and more. Precisely.
1 of her major use case was Mama's buying gifts for their kids who were 25 year olds working in tech startups in San Francisco. That was our primary use case. And.
I mean, the truth of a matter events, um, obviously, the market was not big enough. Especially at the time for a venture scale business here.
There was a there was a size for a business, but not a ministry of venture scale business. And I think that.
We've made multiple mistakes 1. I think we were a little bit early.
Boutique stuff is not the main priorities and when we launched, we launched around the same time as DoorDash and even before breeds and.
No, consumers were used to saying that we're not used to same day with the same. Save the way they are today and so.
The idea of ordering same day for something that was not essential, was very new 1st of all. And 2nd of all, I think that our product positioning so the reason for people to buy stuff.
Ended up being gift because of what we had as inventory. And we never managed to make people.
Want to buy for himself and I think we made an assumption that people would behave the same way in front of a computer that they would when we are in the store.
But for reality don't when they go to a store, they are willing to spend time.
And 2, in a way, kind of let go and when they're in front of the computer, we want to be fast and efficient. It's a very different mindset. And it led to different behavior.
So, I think that what we were trying to achieve.
Was we didn't right design the right product for it?
Got it so that's a very common situation where founder makes an assumption, and then build a
Based on that raw assumption, and then year later they realized that the assumption was wrong. So what's your condition to those founders knew who might be doing that?
Same mistake in this exact moment. What's your condition to them? How should they test out if. They're doing the right thing. That's a very good.
Point and interestingly enough also in our case we made a test so we did a test after 6 months to test all logistics and we recruited maybe 50 people in San Francisco,
some people but we knew some people that we didn't know to.
To test, or service out, and people were super excited. They loved it.
But the reality is that the Ville loved it, but we never used it. But most of them never used it back because the things that we could buy on the platform or not something that they would buy on a regular basis.
So, in a way village experience. But it was a 1 off experience.
It didn't really help us out. I think that for the most important, I mean, frankly.
We started with my Co founder, we hired a small team, and we started building product for maybe 4 or 5 months. We were talking to stores.
We were talking to some users, but not and we were taking talking more theoretically, which didn't help. I think that today, I would obviously crank out something very quick on.
A, no code platform, like a dollar or bubble, and I would just make sure that after a week I can test something out with a few users get feedback and go and start from there.
Very fact that we spend 5 months building, a huge amount of software, infrastructure, and software and codes just code without.
Having enough consumer feedback was a major mistake and I think that oftentimes founders,
including myself who make hoops in our brain in terms of the problem that people have and we make assumptions or we infer something from what people say.
But not everybody's Steve Jobs who can design a Ford Motor a car versus a faster horse. 1st of all and it's it's very, very hard.
I think that the 2nd thing is we need to think about the job to be done framework, which I think is a good example, because it's it.
Removes a lot of flags in what I would call theoretical ideas.
And when I was talking to a founder, actually, a few days ago was talking to me about an idea similar to 6 doors.
And he says, well, but people love supporting local businesses, blah, blah, blah, but the reality event, maybe. It's true.
But when you open a shopping app, the job to be done is not to support a local business job to be
done is you're looking for something that you want to buy for a reason for it for yourself for somebody else. And I think that people, conflate.
The real intense and of a stated intent.
Absolutely, that's actually very accurate. We have the same exact discussion with the partners at the venture. See where we're at and.
He was making the same exact argument as you did and yeah. Eventually I had to pass on the deal that I personally liked. So you guys are showing the dreams, but it's it's a very rational site.
To support that, thank you. So let's talk a little bit more about know.
Nice interesting unique moves. So on our Pre to recall, you mentioned that for 1 of your startups, you have actually turned down a term sheet from acquire capital. So.
How did that happen? Why why did that happen?
Yeah, I mean, that was an interesting story in 2000 free. We started with chatbot company out in France.
I mean, and free, even in Silicon Valley, we're not a lot of startups because it was kind of nuclear winter.
But in France, they were even less, and we had a nice ride. The 1st, 5 years.
We grew to from basically a 4 found 4 Co founders to around 30, 40 people in France business, which was doing maybe 3000000.
Run rate, and in 1 summer we.
We had a huge acceleration. I closed fried 4, 4 customers in the US E bay pay pal, American Express and check which, at the time was a startup, but became a public company.
And we had a mounting 2, maybe 3 or 4 more additional annual revenue for us. So, it was very significant.
Like, we were basically doubling in size and we were, we were fundraising at the same time, both in Europe and in the US and in the US.
We had we talked we talked to maybe 5 or 6 firms, and we had a few that were, I would say, contenders until the end. And in Europe we had 1, which was contenders until the end.
And when we and so we had 2 term sheets, 1 from Korea,
for 6M dollars,
and or Pre and 1 for, from more W Ventures,
which was at the time he good from a strong firm in B2 B software to be SAS based in.
Palo Alto for, I think, was 10 or 11M at 44 posts something like that. So, around the same dilution 20%, but 1 was basically double the money.
And I think we, we had.
We had 2 major concerns with which 1 is because we, the deal was competitive, the extended term sheet without finalizing their diligence. We were afraid that they would back off.
The 2nd thing was that we knew that we were some things in our product that we need to make.
Ready for the US market, because we hadn't been operating mostly in French market, and we were dealing with natural language processing.
So it's not like a pure traditional SAS where button if you just have to change the language. If a button it's pretty easy to localize. The software here, we have to localize the engine.
And so we were afraid that Sequoia would basically.
Want us to go super fast for us in terms of our rollout when we knew that we were not fully ready.
And so we decided to be more conservative to take maybe the last fancy option.
and last thing is that we,
the whole process we had with with this new partner called Brian Trier,
who ended up being a legendary partner for them with,
I think 2 or 3,
maybe 4 unicorns under his belt.
But with, I mean, Brian with you, which was always concerning for partners, and he actually told us that the person who would be on our board would be role of Buddha.
Who who was the CFO of paper who also wasn't for YouTube. So, again, amazing, amazing investor. But we hadn't talked to her off at all for the process only once. Maybe.
So we were afraid that he wouldn't care.
So, in many ways, I think that we over.
We were not confident enough in our abilities and we over interpreted.
Some of synchronize moves, which with hindsight I can say, or just show that they cared about us and that we were confident about us.
And we just didn't believe it was possible.
So, I think that it was so we were not believe because we didn't believe in our.
In that we said, it can't really happen until we took a safe route, which ended up being a mistake in many aspect.
It does. That's actually an epic story. Absolutely. Love to get to be. True. That's the story of it.
So, let's talk just a little bit more about failures and some saying things in the past and then we'll move on to more current situation, more happy thing.
So, what else in your previous background looking back at all your experience, all your previous fundraising experience? What else would you change in that?
Maybe there, you might make some moves and now, you know, like 5 or 10 years later, you're like, okay, that was a horrible move. I shouldn't have never done this. So what what were those moves?
There are so many I was definitely number 1 at least 1 of the 1st ones. I don't think it would have changed dramatically. The outcome of for chose, to be honest with you.
But I do think that being part of the security network would have allowed me to have opportunities.
That we're far beyond what I would have done. So when I left my company in 2012, mostly for actually end of 2010 sorry? For mostly for personal reasons.
And also, because of a change in of a guard, I would say the helm of a company with a new CIO, come from the outside and replacing my Co founder who has a CIO.
Again, if I had the sequel stamp on my on my resume, people would have looked at me differently in Silicon Valley that matters, especially when people don't know the company.
So, top PCs attract top talent in Silicon Valley. And also, if with top talent virtue to that, don't wait better.
Like, no question about it, so I think that for combination of the 2 had been detrimental to both my network.
And also, for success of a company, like, we would have been successful with security would have been very successful, at least, much, much more successful.
So, I think that's that's number 1.
I mean, I've made many many mistakes.
Interestingly enough in 2012 I was not in a very good financial situation and I have the opportunity to join.
I mean, a friend of mine was telling me, hey, I was telling him about Uber and he told me well, I met this guy from Uber, Ryan graves. He came to Paris recently, and he's looking for somebody to be a GM. Would you be interested?
And time I didn't want to go back to France and so I said, no, I don't I just want to stay in the Bay area. So I turned turn that down.
Even the opportunity to interview, obviously, it doesn't guarantee that I would have heard of a job. But the reality is that.
No, even having being in contention that mistake is a 100M dollar mistake. Around the same time.
I have many friends were telling me about going and telling me actually you should buy a 1000 bit coins. It cost a dollar. It was basically costing nothing.
And and I didn't, I mean, I said, I would do it, but then I would get distracted and I didn't do it. They didn't follow the instructions when my friend had gave me to do it. Because obviously, that was the coin base. No, nothing.
So, I didn't do it and, I mean, obviously that's also a costly mistake.
And, I mean, there are a few more, but I would say that the interesting thing about these 2.
Stories is not necessarily events I regret about them. I mean, sure it I would have been better off.
If if I had done it, but the most important thing in my case is that it confirm to me, I learned from these experiences that I could have amazing opportunities.
If I just went.
If I just did things, and so instead of waiting of saying, I can do it tomorrow or, you know.
Like, like, just if you have opportunities presented to, you just talk to people and maybe things won't work out but at least you'll have try. And I think that that has completely changed my bias to action.
And that has been and that has changed my career trajectory.
And I think that's that has been positive. So sure I could I could be talking today from my yard in Greece, but I wouldn't I mean, you would have her learn the same way. I'm not sure.
So, I think that that learning was very valuable.
Right that's actually now I love. That's a lot of it, honestly, but let's stop talking about the mistakes of the past and let's move on to something more positive.
Some people have been complained at my podcast is a little bit too dark. So, let's try to fix that. So, next question is about the good thing. So we know looking back at your previous fundraisers, looking back at your previous companies.
What do you think was your best move? So, you know, something that you look at 10 years later, and you're like, okay, that was genius. That was great.
I mean, I think that there are 2 things.
But the single thing that was my best move.
Frankly was starting to invest money in 2012 and the reason why I changed my trajectory frankly, is that I did it mostly at the beginning, because I wanted to.
Built a network in local commerce ahead of my 6 doors just because I want I didn't have a networking event domain and I wanted to to build a network.
I think that's not only did it put. Mean, a better position, but.
The interesting thing about investing in my case is that it creates this kind of it increases the serendipity of meeting smart founders and creating opportunities around, you.
And that's, I mean, that's how I I met with founders of Checker, but I was the 1st investor in Checker. I ended up joining checker eventually. I think that.
I mean, I was not writing big checks for time because I didn't have that much money. And actually, the money that I invested was mostly money that I had put aside as a down payment for a house. I eventually never bought.
But that money was greatly invested. Because I invested in myself.
And I invested in my network, and in Silicon Valley, your network has a huge impact on your trajectory, especially when you're a founder type and you don't have a resume but doesn't read for years at Facebook and 2 years as Spotify.
And, you know.
2 years of Stripe, like, when you have a pristine resume, it's, it's pretty easy because everybody will look at your resume and and it will give you the benefit of a doubt. But if you, if you've been a startup that people don't know, even if they're been moderately successful.
You don't have that pass and the fact that I've been an investor allow me to to be in front of founders and investors that respected my, my choice. And my, my, my, my picks.
And and they were able to see my value.
And so, that's how I was in front of when checker was looking for a 1st executive and Daniel asked me Pascal. Do you want to join us? I said, yes eventually. And that was probably 1 of the best.
The 2nd, best decision I made, because I was able to see a company that was working.
Very well, and now go from being signed and when you see when you go to a company that has product market fit, then questions that arise are very different and increase amazing opportunities. So.
So, that's these are the 2 things investing in my network. And in my case, joining Checker, where, I think the 2 defining moments in my career.
Right. That's actually a love the story of how you spend your save money that you were playing to spend on house on startups. And that worked out just lovely story. That's the new American dream right?
There, instead of buying the house and getting a stable job, you get a startup so love it love it.
So actually, speaking of the network, he moved here from friends, and I suppose that you had to network from the bottom up, not knowing anyone here in the US and.
How exactly how would you recommend current immigrants to do that? So, a couple percent I'm not us based.
Actually more like 15% of them are not us based.
And a lot of those Nadia based listeners want to move to the United States.
And the 1st question to ask is, how do I start networking when is the right time for me to move in to have a certain number of friends there.
Or what's what's your information to them? Basically.
It's a very hard question. I would say a few things. In my case, I was when we moved, I was married.
My wife was pregnant so it was not a moment in my life where I could spend all my evenings at.
Parties and events and meet ups and stuff like that, because no, I had I was going to have a family.
And so if I was going to an event, I had to peek wisely, because no, I had maybe a few opportunities a month. I think that's.
There are multiple ways you can do it and I've, I've seen think people be successful both ways. I think that, you know, you have people that go and many meetups or many events.
That's cool, but you'll meet a lot of random people that way.
Which is not always very, very useful. Um, I've also seen people.
Try to basically pretend.
But they were more successful than they really were and go straight to the top of a food chain in Silicon Valley.
In the, if you're doing that 3. D. well, and what that means is that we were hanging out with no other. So my famous founders.
Or business, angels, investors, et cetera, et cetera.
And the way they reach out was mostly because they were showing them our product.
It was adjacent or something that the other person could use, or something that was in line with what feel liked and as a consequence people were willing to help them out.
And open their network for them. I think that this is something that is worth trying.
Um, it's hard, but other founders are a good source, because investors are especially these days here.
They are always having people that want to talk to them.
And it's really hard to to, to dedicate the right amount of attention. But if your founders, if you're talking to another founder is respecting your craft.
We will introduce to our founders, maybe investors and that's the best way to create your network. In my mind absolutely. That's.
Great advice. 100%. Correct always full that because that's right. Investors are not.
I mean, chances are, they will be friends with you after the invest in, you.
Then they spend 5 years talking to you, like, every month and then they're your friend, but with founders, it can be like.
Couple of chats and then they're your friends, so definitely definitely do that. That's more scalable model. And here we're moving on to more current situation.
You mentioned that you've invested in over 120 companies.
I remember that correctly. So question I would. Do you invest in right now? In 2020?
Yeah, I mean, so long journey Ventures is the fund that again, we soft launch a year ago, and we're going to launch where we've launched now a few weeks ago on mid November.
And a long journey invests. Both in precedes and seeds.
In founders across the US across across sectors I mean, we've invested in obviously SAS, we've invested in marketplaces, consumer marketplaces we've invested in developer tools.
We've invested even in almost.
Like, a media company, almost like a tech and media company. Um, so we've.
We've and we've done 1 investment in a direct to consumer, even though it's not really our area of expertise. So.
We invest across the spectrum. We don't have a focus in terms of markets. We, we tend to believe that, uh, our founders will lead us to wherever future.
Should be not know our thesis per se. Um, and we, I mean, our name is long journey and so our job is to build.
A strong relationship with founders helped them.
As much as possible across the journey, not only at the beginning, but throughout the journey of a companies where we could be.
The ally in, uh, and, um, a voice, uh, ear that is present for the founders across the life of a company. So, we're in it for a long haul. We know that it will take 7 to 10 years.
Sometimes more for a company to to get to a point where we can exit and we're fine with that. Our, our investors are fine with it and.
And we've been and we've done it enough times that we're confident that this model works. Mm.
I'm like listening to you and I feel like you're just like the copy.
Off my partner from the venture, even though he's Belgium, not French, but you go speak French, you're very, very similar.
So, here, we're moving on to the next question of the mistakes that you see other founders. So, you know, when founder approaches you when he or she.
Pictures you, what are the major mistakes that you see in that particular page? So, in both the verbal presentation, and in the visual presentation.
Today, I feel that the decks that we receive.
Are all above a certain bar, which was not the case maybe 5, 6 years ago.
Um, so I think that the most important thing is that it's make it very simple for people.
To understand what you're doing when an investor is going to review your deck for 1st time. I've ever because you're email me email 1 of us directly.
Are you emailing you're going to be introduced to a friend or a connection?
People's, the investors spend maybe 2 to 5 minutes on a deck.
Maximum and offer at 1st glance.
They just want to have an overview of what your, what about and whether it's something that is interesting to them or not.
If you're not interested in these 2 to 5 minutes, then the other took me to her meeting are very low unless you had a raving reviews from a founder of a people respect. So.
Just make sure that after 2 or 5 minutes, I can make it. I can have an opinion of your company what it does. What traction does it have? What is it go to market?
Uh, whether it's key differentiation in the market, et cetera, et cetera. So I think that if you do that very well.
And you explain very clearly, why is there a problem in the market that you're going after and how you think that you have unique insights the best suited to solve that problem.
You have done 90 of a job.
But very few people do that. Well, the either use buzzwords or if it don't explain.
What is our go to market strategy? Very clearly or you have no clue after 15 science when traction is.
And so, no, we move on.
I mean, other people, like, every day I have 10 founders sending me emails on LinkedIn or trying to connect with me on LinkedIn.
And they tell me pitch me for company. Don't pitch me. Your company just send me a link to a deck. And then I can make a decision if you're just telling me I'm extra. Y, I don't care. It's it's too broad.
I get 15 know random emails like that every day on top of the emails that I'm getting from our founders that I've been introduced to on my inbox. So I feel that.
Most people don't put your cells in the shoes of investors and, you know, at the end of the day at that time, your goal is to get us to pay attention to, you.
And so, what that means is that you really need to make sure that you have something that is very clear, obviously compelling in 1 way or another and where it's easy. I can click a link. I see your deck. I like it.
I'm going to talk to you. I don't like it.
Very easy, right? That's actually that's extremely accurate. 100% agree here.
1, more question before we move on to last question is my personal question that just popped up.
Question is, would you prefer the deck or a short short like 1 paragraph summary of what the company does? Some bullet points on the milestones achieved and.
That's it so, basically a short blurb versus a page deck.
I personally, like, pitch text, but it's also maybe because I'm more visual.
Like, if you're telling me we're solving X for Y, I mean.
It's so broad, I don't know, I need to have a little bit more of a story. So again, I'm going to spend I'm okay to spend 2 to 5 minutes on it.
But I want after 2 or 5 minutes to know whoever I wanted to learn more or not. If you're giving me something that is too high level.
I don't know, and then I will say, no, invest a mistake, but it's maybe my laziness, but it's also a favorite but, you know, most investors.
They don't even read the inbound that comes.
Without any referrals, just because we have so much to flow without that, but it's very, very rare that they even read that.
So, I do read it, but if you don't read my instructions on LinkedIn and you don't even send me a link to your deck.
You're not respecting, not respecting me as a as an investor. I said, please include your link to your bank for not including a link. I'm not going to.
I'm not going to reply to you right? And I know, but most most founders.
Do the same thing, and do it with hundreds of other investors right now they just.
Doing what is easy for them, which makes sense. But your goal is to be successful.
Right. Startup life is certainly not about going the easy path. 100%. Yeah. So definitely actually, that's very true.
I'm so glad that you mentioned that a lot of investors actually puts the specific instructions on how to reach out to them. So some investors actually prefer you to send out.
Your blurb on there literally DM.
On their Twitter account, some prefer as best Kyle, just an email with the short description, and they link to their deck so definitely take your time. And I don't yeah, it could be LinkedIn. It could be on.
It could be a DM on my Twitter account. My Twitter account is at 2 past to the number pass P. A. C. Um, right it's knowledge to to Backcheck or the.
The hard part.
And, um, but.
I don't care where you are going to contact me, but always include holding to a deck or a deck and don't send me.
An email to the 8 or 9 emails, you've scraped from LinkedIn, or you don't send me a mail chimp. Right those and I'm like.
No, that's really like, I don't care.
like that I don't get as much deal flow as you do,
but even I don't open these kind of emails because that's just that's just too much honestly,
this positive and Pre Pre fund that we're moving on to the last question of today's episode.
We choose a call to action. So what is the 1 thing you want to do? As soon as the app is over?
Sure, I think that.
We should follow me at.
To pass on Twitter, or they should follow a long journey on Twitter, long journey Ventures on Twitter. And, um, you can engage with us there.
In and in different ways and and I think that's the best way.
Great that's great. And I'll make sure to leave links to both your Twitter, your LinkedIn and to the Twitter off long journey ventures into description this episode. So if people you think you are a good fit.
If you think that you will connect with this couple well, make sure to attach the link to your deck because otherwise it will be ashamed for, for bringing you to this call is going to be.
Check out the description at this episodes, the contact information is going to be there and.
Probably, yeah, that's the only thing that's gonna be there, but it's 100% worth it. So do that checkout, distributing this episode and have a gate to date.