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Included VC 2021 Reflection: Matthew Falcotelo

Matthew Falcotelo joined ICCP Venture Partners in 2021 as an Analyst, after two years of working in real estate private equity and management consulting.

One of the funniest Fellows in the 2021 Included VC cohort, Matt’s banter has kept all of us smiling throughout the Fellowship! Hear from Matt and how his experience at Included VC has contributed to his new role.

Highlights include:

  • 🧠 Practical knowledge from Partners that has resonated with him in his Analyst role
  • 💜 How Included VC allowed Matt to exercise his empathy muscle
  • 🌟 Matt’s advice for future applicants and those striving to break into VC: find your inner strength

INVC: What were you doing in the process of applying to Included VC?

MF: At the time, I was trying to start an agricultural lifestyle business. I didn’t enjoy my previous job for fit reasons, and I thought that life was too short! I managed to secure an internship with a UK micro VC; but that didn’t pay the bills, so I also ventured into entrepreneurship and a collection of part-time jobs.

I actually applied for the first cohort of Included VC two years ago, but I didn’t make it through the first round. When I saw that they were going to make it global, I decided to try again.

INVC: How has Included VC shaped and contributed to the role you’re now in?

MF: I’ve never actually been an explicit ally to minorities; I just live my life with a certain level of political and social apathy. But as someone who can empathise with the experience of not being given a fair shake in certain things, I’ve since realised that if I’m put in a position where I can help others achieve their goals, then I have a specific duty to do so. For me, it’s impossible to justify taking help from the world without giving back help.

Included VC is built on a very supportive and accepting culture; and it definitely allowed me to exercise my empathy muscle.

I am implementing Included VC values to the extent that I can as a junior VC. For example, should my superiors be open to it, I have a personal side project to help achieve gender parity at our firm over the next three years.

When we were taking recent internship applications at ICCP SBI Venture Partners, 100% of the applications were from males (which is fine). But, I went the extra mile and actually went sourcing specifically for minority candidates; LGBTQ+, female, etc. I’m happy to report that we are now working with a female BAME intern from Singapore.

I think a lot of the exclusivity in VC is because of the realities of the space (closed networks, emphasis on financial services skills). Sometimes, VCs cannot afford to invest much effort into recruiting because work weeks are busy; and deal flow needs to be prioritised.

But as mentioned, I’ve decided to change both myself and my immediate surroundings in the ways I can. If we get only 100% male candidates during a recruiting sprint, the onus is not on the labour market to sort itself out, the onus is on me to make space for diverse profiles. If VCs show initiative in sourcing great startups, a VC could invest similar drive in sourcing great people.

INVC: What are some mic drop/ knowledge bomb moments that you have learnt from Included VC?

MF: Some memorable knowledge bombs that really resonated with me was from Susie Meier, previous Investor at Notion Capital, and Chris Tottman, General Partner at Notion Capital. They shared their benchmarks for what might constitute good revenue growth for B2B SaaS in Europe; that’s very useful for my job.

On a more abstract basis, I admire Kam Mieczakowski, Principal at Notion. I want to get to the level where I can go through a deck in 10 minutes and quickly deconstruct a startup to its bare investment elements. Kam was able to demonstrate this for us during a mock Investment Committee.

There’s something beautiful about how an experienced VC can get to the essence of an investment case. I want to achieve that within the next few years.

INVC: Have there been any particular moments with the Partners in your 1–2–1s or other sessions that have really resonated with you?

MF: I can’t disclose the particular details of a conversation; but I asked Martin Rajcan, General Partner at KAYA VC for advice on how to evaluate a highly contested deal. He pointed out that there could be fundamental reasons to reject investing in a startup, that on its surface, might look attractive.

To put it another way, that moment resonated with me because an experienced VC encouraged me to have intellectual courage, based on my research and analysis, rather than just depending on well-worn investment signals.

INVC: How would you like to see VC transform over the next 5/10 years?

MF: I don’t necessarily believe that getting more diverse VCs is as important as getting more diverse entrepreneurs funded. If we have more diverse VCs, then having more diverse entrepreneurs might follow. But it’s not guaranteed; and it would be a long game as entry level hires need time to progress their careers.

If our communities don’t get the abstract benefits of Included VC — knowledge and training — then the entrepreneur side will not grow as quickly as the investor side. To illustrate, in my emerging market, I have met founders who confuse GMV for net revenue, when it comes to negotiating pre-money valuation.

I would like to see people who don’t get exposed to Silicon Valley insights up their game; and for VCs to figure out how to make that happen faster, outside of their primary mandate to deploy capital profitably. There’s a wide range of free writing online; but getting information direct from VCs might improve the relevance and quality of knowledge. I plan to be involved in the community as much as I can.

INVC: What advice would you give yourself now reflecting on the end of Included VC?

MF: Generate inner strength on your own. I say this not only to myself, but to future Included VC Fellows. I say that with the context that I’m an introvert; and as a slight juxtaposition to the fact that this is an inclusive, supportive cohort (which I love!).

You entered Included VC as an individual and you will move on to build a career as an individual. You might have the support of the Fellowship; and VC might be a team sport, but your performance during the Included VC programme, your career, and your investment results are on you. The entire tech ecosystem — not just applying to VC firms, but raising from LPs, raising as a founder, building a startup — revolves around perseverance, rising above rejection, and prospering in adversity. I got rejected only 14 times for a VC job; but I know other Fellows got rejected 50 or even 100 times.

So, for any future applicants who don’t get into Included VC straight away, that’s okay. For any VC aspirants who don’t “break in” immediately, that’s okay.

Through every process, you have to be strong because venture capital is not for the faint hearted. People enter tech and VC for various reasons; but there is a price for successful participation. That is inner strength.

INVC: Three words to describe Included VC 💛

MF: Supportive, accepting & learning.

Stay connected

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