I came to venture capital with a pretty unique vantage point. As a kid, my idol was Shirley Chisholm not Steve Jobs. As a student, I focused on public policy not business. In my career, I have worked in the public sector for more years than I’ve worked for the private sector.
I like to think this path stems from one idea I’ve held fiercely my whole life: The power of the little guy/gal is America’s strength.
Since arriving to Silicon Valley, I have been disenchanted with a consistent focus on investing in the big guys/gals. Why does a bot which helps companies run 1% more efficiently need to exist? Who cares if a highrise apartment building has a vending machine in its lobby?
I plan to invest my time on the founders who are building products and things for real people.
Who are real people?
- People making under $100,000/year and/or;
- Small businesses with <20 stores
Focus on these profiles is gaining traction. Jason Del Rey claimed that it is the hottest new trend in ecommerce. NextView Ventures is increasingly focused on their “Everyday Economy” thesis which targets a similar demographic.
But for me, it is not just about who you are building your company for, it is about how your company impacts your consumers’ lives.
I am most excited about companies that are building products that give real people more agency over their lives. This can be financial agency, time agency or mental/physical agency.
These companies are venture backable. A few post-IPO examples include: Square, Etsy and Fitbit. I’m excited to find the next wave of these companies in their pre-seed stages.
I know there’s a lot more for me to explore in this space. To that end, I want to learn from the ones who know it best — entrepreneurs. I’ve started the podcast: Be About It to chronicle my learnings with these founders. Check out my first interview with the CEO of Access Bazaar, Julian Rodriguez.
If this sounds like the company you’re building, please reach out at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to learn from you!
Stay in touch — subscribe to my listserve where I’ll be sharing updates on my thesis here: http://sydneypaigethomas.com/subscribe/