Introducing Rickie: The organized and analytical-minded team player, who brings dedication and respect with a smile

DNX Ventures
DNX Ventures Blog
Published in
4 min readJan 12, 2023

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Rickie is a Principal on the DNX investment team, focusing on companies that are changing the game in retail, e-commerce, supply chain, fintech and online marketplaces.

Born and raised in Japan, ethnically Taiwanese but a US citizen, Rickie grew up as a quintessential “third-culture kid.” This multicultural upbringing inspired him to study International Affairs at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Studies, allowing him to hone his mental models around strategic and systems-level thinking and operating organizations at a global scale. He joined Deloitte to put that training into practice, helping multinational companies — mostly in Retail, Shipping and Logistics — manage their cross-border operations and transactions. After attaining his MBA from the Wharton School of Business, Rickie interned at the DNX in Japan and then joined the DNX US team full-time to continue to look into the Retail and Supply Chain sector.

He cites DNX’s cross-border relationship between the US and Japan as the initial reason why he got involved with DNX, but he immediately found his “tribe” amongst similarly down-to-earth technologists, operators, and investors. He sees that the humility, relentless focus, and willingness to get their hands dirty to help their portfolio companies succeed are the defining traits of the team and what continue to set DNX apart from the rest of the industry.

Rickie sits on the board of Whym (Conversational Commerce), Catch (Smartcart) and Airhouse (All-in-One Supply Chain), and led the firm’s investments in Perksy, Downstream, Agvend, Per Diem, and Fieldguide.

What sectors or trends are you excited about right now?

I’m spending a lot of time looking into retail, e-commerce, and supply chain technology right now. I think there is going to be further democratization of the “Amazon tech stack,” from the digital storefronts to payments to warehouse management solutions. SMB (Small and Midsize Business) merchants and individual creators now have the tools to build out their own best-in-class omnichannel retail capabilities, which is a really exciting prospect.

What are the main things you consider when looking at a potential investment?

I find that it usually comes down to 5 broad categories (in no particular order)

  1. The Team — Does the team have a unique insight or experience in that market that gives them an edge? Do they have previous life experiences to suggest they can build something — with limited resources — a product/service that people want?
  2. The Product — Is this a product that truly matters to customers? Can we tie the value-add of the product to a top 5 strategic concern for the buyer?
  3. The Market — How big and why now? Who are the major stakeholders in the market and where is the opportunity in the value-chain fertile for an innovative solution?
  4. The Traction — What product or commercial traction has the company achieved to suggest they can continue or accelerate its current growth trajectory?
  5. The Deal — Is DNX the right investor and do the deal economics make sense?

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs?

Be sure to prioritize health: both physical, mental and spiritual. Invest in your well-being — as would a professional athlete — because the path of entrepreneurship requires a similar herculean level of energy. You may have employees and customers (and, yes, investors) that are counting on you, but be sure to focus on being the healthiest version of yourself, every day. Health doesn’t guarantee success, but without it, you won’t stand a chance.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your VC career?

An early challenge was honing my own internal compass of what makes a good early-stage investment. The landscape is constantly evolving with new technologies, entrepreneurs, and investors, coming and going, so it was easy to get swept up in the hype. Over time, I’ve built a framework that helps me focus on the criteria that really matter and move the needle in our decision-making process (hint: I care deeply about what existing and prospective customers say).

What do you enjoy doing while you’re not working?

I am a longtime musician, growing up playing the drums and piano, so I love to just surround myself with music. I love browsing through Soundcloud, looking for lesser-known musicians/producers and hunting for gems that I can take with me on my commute to work. If I’m ambitious, I’ll pick a song and try to learn that song on the piano by ear. I relish the process of dissecting a song and practicing it over and over until I have it down perfectly.

What are your must-read books or favorite podcasts?

One of my favorite books is On Grand Strategy by John Lewis Gaddis, and I would drop anything for the ‘Invest like the Best’ podcast.

🔗Rickie’s LinkedIn

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