Alex Finkelstein

General Partner at Spark Capital

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 20, 2017

Discussion

Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
Hi, I’m Alex and I am a General Partner at Spark Capital. I have led investments in Wayfair, Andela, Everything But The House, Mark43, IEX and Talkspace, to name a few. In a former life, I was the creator and producer of a number of television shows that sold to major networks including FOX, E!, Discovery, ITV1, and Yahoo. I live in Boston, and I’m a diehard hockey fan. Look forward to answering your questions!
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
What advice would your give to someone looking to get into VC? 🤔
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@nivo0o0 I would recommend starting a company or working at an early stage company through rapid growth. But I don’t think there’s one way. One of the beautiful things about VCs is we have relatively diverse backgrounds…journalists, CEOs, founders, engineers. For me, how I got my first job in VC is I cold called a GP, he didn’t want to meet with me, I talked him into meeting me on the phone and that led to me getting hired.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hey Alex! What are 2-3 ways a non-technical person from outside can bring great value to a VC firm?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@theo_dimarhos Recruiting.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
@finkelstein1 Recruiting startups (deal flow) or talent for their portfolio companies?
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Product Hunt
What do you look for when making an investment? Is it team, founder, idea, initial traction?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@ayrton I would say here at Spark, we’re really focused on the founders and team in addition to product. A really key thing for us is is it big and crazy vision. There was a company I brought in recently that was clearly going to make money, you could see who was going to acquire the company and it was an easy deal to do…but we passed. It wasn’t big, audacious and crazy enough for us. We like the crazy.
Snah Desai@s_haverford · Operations Analyst, ServiceTitan
Whats one role at a startup that is commonly overlooked/under valued?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@s_haverford CFO and head of HR/People
Michelle Linn@michelle_linn · Linn PR + Huttle
It's so unique that you have a background creating and selling TV shows. What did you learn from that experience and how do those learnings apply now?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@michelle_linn I really learned about persistent, hard work and that you can accomplish a lot at a young age. I quit my job as a young VC in my 20s and wrote an original TV show with no prior writing experience. Nobody wanted to hear my idea. I cold called over 700 people. After 18 months, I was at my peek of being broke, but I stuck with it a little longer and was able to get 4 pitch meetings in one day with the President of the 4 major networks and ended up selling that show to one of the major networks. I also learned how the business and creative can work very well together.
Kunal Roy@kunalroy · Developer
What do you think of Indian Startup Market ?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What do you believe in that not many others agree with you on?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@bentossell I think there are a lot of great companies outside of Silicon Valley. I spend a lot of my time traveling where most VCs do not. I'm on the Board of two companies in Barcelona, two in Berlin and one in Africa. The first time I had dinner with the CEO of Andela which is dual HQd in Africa and NYC, he asked me what I was going to do for due diligence. The next week we were on the ground together in Lagos, Nigeria. It was an amazing first hand experience to get get to know the company.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
How important do you think it is for a VC firm to spend time to make sure they are building and maintaining a community?
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Hi Alex, I have a 3 part questions...How often do you invest in seed stage startups? If so, what must they accomplish before seeking investment from you? Lastly, how can they pitch to you?
Matt Nagel@mattnagelmv · PR Manager, Symantec
What has been your favorite pitch from a startup so far? And why?
David Yap@davidyapdy · I'm obsessed with talking computer.
Any regrets?
skyflysky@dimanche1120
What's your favorite trip?I want to travel around the world.
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@dimanche1120 I just had a Board meeting in Kenya, that was cool.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are you top productivity tips?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Alex thanks for joining us today. What is your number one piece of advice for founders looking for their first investment?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@ems_hodge Focus on product and customers/users.
Seth Williams@sethbwilliams · Designer, Product Hunt
What does success look like for you?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@sethbwilliams Backing a team where everyone says its going to fail, it’s a terrible idea and will never work. Working closely with the team in the early days to help put the foundational pieces together, but also knowing when to stay out of the way. Then going on a crazy 5-8-year journey with huge ups and downs and coming out with an incredible company and product. Most entrepreneurs I have backed have become very close personal friends and we’ve gone through a life changing experience together in more ways then one…that’s the real reward.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you had to be a tech CEO for a week, who would it be and why?
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are your top growth tips for founders looking to get their first 100 - 1000 customers?
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's your morning routine?
Alex Finkelstein@finkelstein1 · Alex Finkelstein
@jakecrump Wake up around 5:30 AM…catch up on emails and news in bed…get up and walk the dog before everyone gets up…. make breakfast for the kids (9 and 7 years old)…fist bump my wife and give her a kiss…and then drop the kids off at school. If I’m not traveling (which I do a lot) I’m usually at the office by 8:30 or have a breakfast. I have a lot of energy but I never drink coffee.
Niel Robertson@nielr · I like to build things
What are your thoughts on the Australian market?