I am absolutely thrilled to share with everyone that I recently joined the investment team at Scrum Ventures!
I’ve been here in the SF office for a little over a week now and am still pinching myself to make sure that it’s all real. In my new role, I will be investing in, supporting and empowering ambitious founders and globally-focused seed and Series A startups helping to build smart societies for a better future. We are generalist investors, so I will be expanding my focus beyond AgTech to a wide range of technologies, including AI, robotics/automation, AR/VR, and data/cloud/IOT across dynamic industries such as retail, fintech, manufacturing/construction, mobility, sports, health/wellness, and media, among others. Scrum Ventures also has a specific interest in the US and Asia and as strategic investors for startups with cross-border go-to-market interest in both Silicon Valley and Japan. So far, Scrum has invested in 77 companies (including Noom, THIRDLOVE, May Mobility, Le Tote and dozens of other industry defining companies) with an incredible 11 exits to show for it already.
What I love most about Scrum Ventures is that we all value community and embody founder empathy.
This is a team made up of successful serial entrepreneurs and astute startup advisers with incredible foresight and an uncanny ability to use networks and communities to elevate companies. Many of us have been startup operators and founders in a past life, with varying degrees of success. But since we’ve been in the trenches, we know how to help entrepreneurs in more tangible and targeted ways. In addition, with deep networks across both the US and Japan, Scrum is able to seamlessly help companies rapidly expand into some of the most sought-after markets and user populations in the world. But our investment team is only as strong as the community that we build around the companies we choose to align ourselves with. On my first day on the job, we ended the work day by hosting a networking dinner event (with food catered by a Michelin-star chef) for all of our portfolio company founders on the West Coast. The event was incredible and the sense of community and camaraderie among the diverse group of founders present was palpable. Scrum takes care of its entrepreneurs. And this makes me so excited to spend this next chapter of my life standing side by side with Tak, Hitoshi, Yohei, Ryan and the rest of the team in supporting the next generation of transformative entrepreneurs.
For those who are curious, my journey to Scrum started with a seemingly nondescript LinkedIn request.
Nearly half a year ago, I met Scrum’s Ryan Mendoza when he reached out to swap industry knowledge on the AgTech industry and to collaborate on helping to build out Scrum’s thesis in the sector. I remember being really impressed with the hustle and initiative that Ryan showed in conducting market research in an industry completely foreign to him. I also found our conversation particularly dynamic — he’s sharp and analytical, but also genuine and down to earth. And those are the kinds of qualities that I value in both colleagues and friends. Over the next few months, that initial conversation then led to additional chats to share deal flow and to further explore the viability of investing in AgTech, which eventually turned into a collaboration to assist with due diligence on a precision ag company Scrum was interested in investing in. Soon after that, Ryan announced that Scrum was looking to expand their investment team and it was an opportunity that we both saw as a perfect fit. Good fortune and impeccable timing played key roles here.
I’ve doubled down on my commitment to be a VC because I want to support mission-driven entrepreneurs building the kind of world I want to live in.
I stumbled into the world of entrepreneurship in college and started my career with two failed startup experiences. But through those opportunities, I was really able to appreciate the dedication, challenges and sacrifices that entrepreneurs routinely make to solve their consumers’ biggest pain points. When I joined THRIVE, my goal was to advance the future of food and agriculture in order to accelerate a more sustainable future and to drive change in our food production processes to improve the world we live in. Agriculture has long been considered one of the least digitized industries, but several larger and older industries are also ripe for change. According to Exhibit 3 on this graphic published by McKinsey, construction, education, healthcare, hospitality, transportation and retail all fall under the umbrella of industries with significant digitization opportunities. These industries also happen to fall under Scrum’s areas of interest as well as my own. In recent months, I’ve become particularly interested in thinking about how we will introduce automation into legacy industries to offset labor shortages, how we will improve access to healthcare services, how we can make travel safer and more efficient, and how we can implement sustainability and environmentalism into everyday processes. At the end of the day, I have faith that entrepreneurs can help transition us towards a world of abundance, opportunity, impact, and community. I’m fundamentally an optimist and am excited about what the future holds for technology and innovation.
I’m on the hunt for founders who share our vision.
My goal as an investor is to be helpful, humble and empathetic — the same traits I commonly see pervasive among my most favorite entrepreneurs, peers and mentors. If you are a seed or Series A company helping to build smart societies for a better future and have some traction, a differentiated product, world-class team and demonstrated product/market fit, I want to hear from you. Or if you just want feedback on your company or idea, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or share your story with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan is an investor and startup mentor dedicated to helping impact-driven entrepreneurs scale and grow their business. Jonathan is regularly invited to host pitch competitions and speak on-stage about his experiences in VC, entrepreneurship, the Silicon Valley startup landscape, and his interest in the AgTech space. In addition, Jonathan has been invited as a speaker at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, was selected as part of the 2019 AgGrad 30 Under 30 class and is a member of the NationSwell Council. Jonathan has a BA in History from Rice University and an MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University.