Jonathan Teo

Founder and Managing Partner at Binary Capital

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON June 30, 2016

Discussion

Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
Hi everyone, I'm Jonathan Teo, cofounder of Binary Capital and a big believer that we can commoditize privilege across the globe through responsible technology products. I've been in a wide variety of roles including founder, employee, technical manager and now investor and am excited to answer any of your questions from those perspectives.
Tiffany Zhong@tzhongg · gen z insights. formerly @ProductHunt
What are 3 companies you passed on but wish you hadn't in hindsight?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@tzhongg FusionIO back in 2009, Pinterest in 2010 (although I wrote a Quora post on it after I failed to convince my partnership then. Twice. https://www.quora.com/How-does-P...) and Dropbox in late 2010.
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Awesome to see you here Jonathan and have heard a huge amount about you, my question is, obviously Tiffany is awesome and the whole community loves her but what was it about @tzhongg that made you realise how awesome she was? What was that factor or turning point? Were you concerned at how the VC community would respond to such a young hire?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@harrystebbings @tzhongg This young lady here is one of the most authentic, honest and expressive individuals I've come across. She also at core has a passion for technology and new ideas, and has an intrinsic understanding that the best people in her network have yet to do their best work and is constantly in support of them getting to that point.
Kartik Chaudhari@kartik_chaudhari · fueled by innovation, starting up
@jonathan_teo @harrystebbings @tzhongg how did you discover her as a talent? as in what was the medium of communication?
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
Hello Jonathan, thank you for taking our questions. Where do you look for emerging trends (e.g. sources, events, websites, etc.) and how do you pick ventures in nascent industries?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@candriopoulos I use a series of data pulls across public sources of data to figure out whereabouts in the service space there lack national brands in inefficient marketplaces but where latent demand exists. In the new media space I scour Twitter and other conversation rich sites to identify if any products are bringing about new content types that facilitate new ways of communicating.
COSTAS ANDRIOPOULOS@candriopoulos · https://medium.com/strictly-curious
@jonathan_teo Dear Jonathan, thank you very much for your insightful answer. I appreciate it.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Do you think our social media bandwidth is at max cap? In other words, will the next big thing have to replace something we currently use?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@andrewett There's always going to be a limit as to the number of ubiquitous media products out there, just because we only have so many hours in a day. Yet we are now starting to see a real fracture in demographic specific products segmented by content and access types. More, smaller online communities will be developed.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
@jonathan_teo As an investor, how do you evaluate which of these "small online communities" has the most growth potential?
Uhma@deleted-594972 · Brr
Hello Jonathan, Thank you for giving us an opportunity to ask you questions . What are the indicators you look for, when scanning hundreds ( if not thousands ) of startup pitches? What is your preferred format of a startup pitch? Thank you.
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@victorpolyushko Hey Victor, I'm going to attempt this with the caveat that there are always additional details to consider depending on the space the startup is innovating in. In no specific order and across different spaces, I look for 1) Clarity in understanding what user value the product is bringing to the market and the distinction between that and the founding vision (a founding vision that's greater than the product vision helps me be inspired that the founders understand the journey they are embarking on). 2) A consistency of that user value articulated by the founder and the message that users describe the service or product with. 3) A team that's self aware about why they can understand that user value best and how to keep that up (either belonging to the exact user demo, unique context, data centric product iteration process, etc.)
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Jonathan! Snapchat is an obvious big win during your time at General Catalyst. Which three emerging but lesser known social platforms are you most excited about?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@rrhoover I think social is a tough space now to innovate in. Most of the relationships have been codified with existing platforms. I do think there are areas to continue innovating in (e.g. group conversations), but in general we have been focused in this space on products aggregating content and their distribution across multiple platforms as we move away from the monolithic html based content world where Google was most dominant.
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
For a startup with less than 1000 total users, no revenue yet that's seeking funding.. Would they typically raise a pre-seed or seed round? and how can they send you a pitch deck?
Justin Wilson@jawhster
@mariuschawa great question. I'm looking for answer too. Thank you
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@mariuschawa Just send it over to me at jt@binarycap.com. I'll certainly respond.
Marius Chawa@mariuschawa · UX Designer @ Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Martina Grgic@martigrgic · Co-founder @ SmartLumies
Hi Jonathan! What is the biggest mistake founders do while pitching to you, especially non-US founders (in case you had experience with this)? If I can be honest, my biggest fear now, as a European founder, is that I'm not as valuable as an US founder because of the cultural differences and being away of the startup epicenter. I guess it will change with time :)
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@martigrgic Don't be! The only mistake a founder can make when pitching is to pitch another person's point of view.
Martina Grgic@martigrgic · Co-founder @ SmartLumies
@jonathan_teo good advice :) is there a way I can pitch you my point of view?
Kartik Chaudhari@kartik_chaudhari · fueled by innovation, starting up
Hi Jonathan.. how would you consider the venture capital scenes in India to be.. It is the fastest growning it hub in the world and already has the 3rd largest startup ecosystem in the world but, without a major VC presence .. Would you invest?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@kartik_chaudhari I would but given the stage we invest in, the geographical constraints of where our network and experience can be most helpful get diminished with that distance. I also don't tend to get preferential deal flow outside of the US.
Kartik Chaudhari@kartik_chaudhari · fueled by innovation, starting up
@jonathan_teo geographical constrainsts aside, would you invest if you had presence in India?
Danny Espinoza@abcdannye · Founder @looksyvideo
Hi Jonathan, at GC was there a key factor leading to your investment in Snapchat? Clearly traction was there at the Series A but I'm wondering if something really stood out for you that made you see the potential there and pull the trigger?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@dannyjespinoza Interestingly, it was a tweet I saw from a young 13 year old teen regarding Snapchat that went "Finally it's ok for me to post an ugly photo of myself!" that raised my eyebrows. I actually met Evan and Bobby in early 2012 and told them I would invest then, two rounds prior to the investment GC made that I led while there. He had articulated clearly then that he wanted to "make it fun to talk to [his] friends again". When I looked into the numbers at Snapchat, what stood out was that over 93% of active users on the platform (then at 110k daily actives) across all cohorts were coming back to the app over 5 times a week. It was starting to resonate as a communications tool, and our conversations around how to bring it into the broadcast arena centered around the storytelling aspect, which only came into being in late 2013 but had its clarity articulated then.
Vishal Gurbuxani@vishal_gurbuxani · Live Life Happy
Hi Jonathan, what are the top 3 things you do to maintain work/life balance?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@vishal_gurbuxani I travel. A lot. Helps me get a different perspective. I actually like backpacking more than any type of travel, staying at hostels and visiting less-trodden locales. There's also a vibrant art community I enjoy engaging with. Practically, I take no more than 6 meetings a day, and always have open time for my friends.
Ethan James Appleby@ethanappleby · Vango Founder, Kiter, US History Buff
@jonathan_teo well said... answer to this question is usually very generic. yours was not.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Which company in your portfolio do you think Product Hunt users should be using, but might not know about yet?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@andrewett You should check out Bindle!
Corey Hubbard@corey_hubbard · Founder - DreamHighr
Thanks for being here Jonathan, and I wanted to ask what are your thoughts of the plus and minuses on the Brexit vote on early-stage investments in the USA?
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
Hey Jonathan, how/why did you make the switch from being an Engineer with a hardcore tech background (Bachelors/Masters) to being a VC?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@sarim_haq It happened by chance. Peter Fenton over at Benchmark convinced me I could be helpful in evaluating deep tech companies given my technical background, and it just evolved from there!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Jonathan thanks for joining us today. During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Flip side - what's the worst?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@ems_hodge Hey Emily, best advice I got for my career actually came from my mom. She said "never let anyone regret that they spent time with you. Worst advice I got was "You don't need to give the right advice, just have a perspective." It came from another VC early in my career and it's terrible.
Nikhil Srinivasan@nvs · CEO at Cleargraph
hey jt 👋🏻 curious, who do you consider your closest mentors and what did you learn from them? (people who were catalysts and supporters of personal growth opportunities)
Rodrigo Argumedo@rod_argumedo1 · Occasional Hunter
Hello Jonathan, how long did it took you to build an early stage venture capital? Also, does it take the same risks as in a form of a startup tech business?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@rod_argumedo1 It took years of immersing in the technology space, building a network of great founders and technical talent and a cadre of fantastic mentors. When I started Binary with my partner Justin Caldbeck, we already had some good investments and relationships behind us so the risk we took on was mostly about whether investors would support our story and thesis. A startup's risk profile is dramatically different, with many more operational variables and a more rapidly evolving ecosystem.
William Maio@williammaio · Software Engineer at TerrAvion
Hi Jonathan, what are some of the untapped opportunities that people are not focusing on?
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@wmaiouiru Hey William, I'm a big believer that we can build value by focusing on the large number of new users coming online into the digital economy, mainly inner city users and users in developing economies.
Hi Jonathan, in which type of company are you more comfortable investing? Is it something that evolved? Thanks.
Jonathan Teo@jonathan_teo
@patry_francois Broad question! I am most comfortable investing in a company where I can play a clear support role, and the founder is clearly in the driver's seat. That hasn't changed.