Wharton FinTech
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Fabrice Grinda, Founding Partner at FJ Labs — Serial Entrepreneur & Investor in 700 Startups!

Miguel Armaza sits down with legendary tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Fabrice Grinda, Founding Partner at FJ Labs, a stage-agnostic Venture Capital fund that focuses on marketplaces and consumer facing startups.

Born and raised in France, Fabrice is amongst the world’s leading tech leaders.

As an investor, he has over 250 exits on almost 700 investments. With impressive investments such as Alibaba, Lending Club, Delivery Hero, Betterment, Klarna, Stripe, Palantir and Rappi.

As an entrepreneur, Fabrice co-founded OLX, one of the largest websites in the world with over 300 million unique visitors per month. Having previously founded Zingy and Aucland, two highly successful sites.

In this fun episode, we discuss:

Investing during COVID — why FJ labs never stopped writing checks during the pandemic. If you take a look at the most interesting startups to come out of the last decade, most of them were founded in 2008/2009 during the worst months of the Great Financial Recession. Fabrice argues this is not a coincidence. In fact, crises provide entrepreneurs with a number of factors that can play in their favor:

  • Labor availability — high paying jobs become scarce and opportunity cost decreases, which leads more people to consider entrepreneurship
  • Crises accelerate underlying trends and spark new ideas
  • Customer acquisition costs are typically lower

“When you’re investing early like we do (Seed, Series A, or Series B), the current macroeconomic environment is not relevant. What matters is the macroeconomic environment a decade in the future when those companies exit.”

FJ Labs’ investing strategy and the kind of team and company they look for. Having made almost 700 investments, FJ Labs has its strategy down to a science. In general, they aim to be friendly co-investors that never lead or take board seats. They are also notoriously fast and usually make a decision within a couple of weeks after two one-hour phone calls. What do they look for?

  • A visionary team of founders who can execute, sell, and understand their business better than anyone.
  • Attractive unit economics
  • Reasonable deal terms
  • A business they like and that not only could it become a billion-dollar company, but that it’s aligned with their vision of where the future is heading

To date, they have invested in about 650 companies and had 225+ exits with an impressive realized IRR of 47% over the last 23 years.

Fintech trends and verticals Fabrice is excited about. FJ Labs is paying particular attention to the disruption of banking and insurance and has backed a large number of fintech startups. But Fabrice also thinks it’s day zero for Blockchain innovations. Initiatives like the Ethereum ecosystem reflect where the future of finance will be reinvented and financial intermediaries will become irrelevant.

“Opportunity lies where there’s broken user interfaces experiences or where things are more expensive than they should be. The banking system is one of the places where the user experiences are the most dysfunctional.”

Investing mistakes and why he knew he was gonna regret passing on Uber… but did it anyway. Fabrice does not have a lot of investment regrets but admits he’s probably made more mistakes of not investing than mistakes where he actually did.

“In one of my debriefs I wrote, ‘I am gonna regret this decision for the rest of my life, but I’m not investing because the unit economics are underwater, they’re burning too much capital, etc.’ That was Uber. And when you start an investment memo by ‘I’m gonna regret this decision for the rest of your life’ you know that’s not the right decision.”

The exciting democratization and explosion of tech Latin America… and a lot more!

Fabrice Grinda

Fabrice Grinda is among the world’s leading Internet entrepreneurs and investors. He has over 250 exits on 700 angel investments. Fabrice has served as CEO for three multinational companies and has an impressive track record as an early investor in Alibaba, Flexport, Delivery Hero, Betterment and Brightroll. Fabrice is currently running the startup studio and venture fund FJ Labs, which he cofounded with business partner Jose Marin. Fabrice was named the #1 Angel Investor in the world by Forbes

Prior to FJ Labs, Fabrice was co-founder and co-CEO of OLX, one of the largest websites in the world with over 300 million unique visitors per month. The company operates in 30 countries and has over 10,000 employees. OLX is the largest classifieds site in India, Brazil, Pakistan, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Portugal and many other emerging markets.

Prior to OLX, Fabrice was the CEO and founder of Zingy, a mobile content company, which he grew to over $200 million in annual revenues and profitability in 4 years.

Fabrice started his entrepreneurial journey in 1998, at 23, when he co-founded and was CEO of Aucland. Soon after, Aucland grew into one of the largest auction sites in Europe.

Before his entrepreneurial endeavors, Fabrice worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company.

Fabrice holds a BA in Economics from Princeton University. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1996, and was awarded the Halbert White prize, given to the most distinguished economics student, as well as The Wolfe Balleisen memorial prize, awarded for best thesis. In his free time, Fabrice likes to travel the world, kitesurf, play tennis, and blog about his personal and professional life at www.fabricegrinda.com.

Full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple

Previous Episodes You May Enjoy:

Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel & Dalton Caldwell — Lessons from 5000 Entrepreneurs

Rewriting the History of Banking — Stefan Möller, Co-Founder & CEO of Klar

Sallie Krawcheck, Co-founder/CEO of Ellevest — Wall Street Stories, Building Resilience, & Overcoming Bias

Kevin Busque, Founder/CEO of Guideline — Serial Entrepreneurship & Disrupting US Retirement Savings

Jarrid Tingle, Managing Partner of Harlem Capital — Transforming the Face of Entrepreneurship

Billionaire Investor, Activist, & Educator Tim Draper — China, Bitcoin, and Free Societies

Amy Nauiokas, Anthemis CEO/Founder-Cultivating Change & Building Resiliency in the Financial System

Miguel Armaza is Co-Host of the Wharton Fintech Podcast and Co-Founder of Gilgamesh Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focused on fintech in the Americas.

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