PS: per la versione in Italiano, segui il link.
Although we had both been active as angel investors in the area for several years, we had no idea what it meant to found a VC firm. We approached the idea in 2016, studying the subject with lawyers and tax consultants for about a year, and then we started.
We validated the model in the Bay Area, like any startup, and after some adjustments, we launched in July 2017, when we closed our first investment. In the meantime, we have always helped and pushed Italian startups to think big, providing advisory services and hundreds of office hours every year.
The idea has always been to have a minimal team, delegating to professionals outside the company everything we thought was not our core business.
Given our experience in creating companies — both in Italy and in San Francisco — we knew that if we were to create a “classic” company, we would have ended up taking care of our own company instead of focusing on the portfolio startups.
The only really useful activity when doing our job is to be focused on the startups world. Companies you’ve already bet on may need help and those that have yet to come out should be found as soon as possible. Each article, each tweet, each meeting can become an opportunity to discover a new gem. This is what makes what we do exciting. We wanted Lombardstreet Ventures to be a different kind of VC.
Three years of work, over 90.000 miles in air travel and 2.800 meetings with as many startups, led to the closure of 30 investments. The markets we have focused on are different and almost all the companies we have bet on have in common the fact that they are from Silicon Valley with teams distributed around the world.
We invest in distributed teams with HQ in Silicon Valley.
This has always been our mantra and somehow we anticipated what almost everyone is doing today due to the pandemic that has hit the planet.
To be able to manage such a substantial dealflow, we are used to having almost all the meetings remotely and undoubtedly, in the era of COVID-19, we found ourselves having an advantage over many other VCs in the area. In fact, traditional and long-time venture capitalists in the Bay Area have always managed their investments through in-person meetings.
Today we are in full swing in raising new capital with much greater ambitions than three years ago. In thinking about the new fund, we also realized that the amount of Italian startups that we hoped to see coming to California — and in which we wanted to invest — has been definitely lower than expected. Throughout 2020 we tried to understand the reason for this, and it emerged that the main problem lies in the fact that in Italy little is known about Silicon Valley and its startups.
Pushed by this though, during last year we tried to verify our hypothesis, offering a 40-hour masterclass called “How Silicon Valley Startups Work” on how to create a startup between Silicon Valley as an international founder. The results were surprisingly good and this made us understand how necessary it was to push much more on the education front to spread the knowledge we gathered in recent years.
To broaden the spectrum of our activities, and at the same time be able to undertake a much more ambitious project on the investment front, it was necessary to expand the team. We needed a new person who shared this goal and who had an important experience in the startup world and in Silicon Valley. But at the same time, she had to be passionate about Italy, its talents and their potential.
Irene Mingozzi’s name came up naturally. Irene has been based in San Francisco since 2015 and served as Director at ART-ER’s Silicon Valley Innovation Hub, which was created by Emilia-Romagna Region, undoubtedly the most visionary of the Italian regions when it comes to innovation and openness to the most advanced innovation ecosystems in the world.
Irene’s career in ART-ER started in 2010 and at the age of 27 she moved to California. Since then she has met and supported hundreds of Italian startups approaching Silicon Valley. She has extensive experience in the startups’ educational field, while having a vast international network. Irene has connections with dozens of American and European innovation hubs, and when we realized that she could be interested in our proposal we welcomed her on board.
Investing in early-stage companies means being able to work hard to intercept companies that are not under anyone’s radar yet. Lombardstreet Ventures looks for very young startups, sometimes with only a few months of activity behind them. In these cases, the metrics to analyze are definitely very fresh, which is why we need people who are not only experts in the sector, but who are also able to understand and read the people in front of them quickly and insightfully.
And this is also why Irene is the right person 😉. Welcome on board!