Mo Koyfman

Mo Koyfman

General Partner at Spark Capital

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 11, 2015

Discussion

Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
Hi all! I'm Mo, one of the general partners at Spark Capital, an early and growth stage venture firm. I’m based in New York, but Spark invests globally. I’m interested in companies that efficiently and beautifully reimagine the world’s largest, most influential industries. My investments include Warby Parker, Plaid, Work Market, Sift Science and Bond Street. In the past, I worked at IAC, where I was Chief Operating Officer of Vimeo and CollegeHumor as well as VP of Mergers & Acquisitions. I obsess about brand, design, art and food. I’m thrilled to be here, ask me anything!
JJ Tang
JJ Tang@jjrichardtang · Product @IBMCloud 🚢
Hey Mo, thanks for being here today! 🙌 a) What is something you believe in that other people might find crazy/insane? b) What recently in the news/industry has captured your attention the most? Bonus: what is your favourite emoji and why? 🍕
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@jjrichardtang i believe in a connected energy in the universe, and i believe humans can tap into it. my favorite emoji is the fist pump, because it's classic and cool. but i must say i do like the middle finger emoji as well :)
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Mo! How do you see online schools/education? What are the factors missing that will make them grow exponentially?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@theo_dimarhos who are you referring to? Altschool and the like? or the MOOCs? or platforms like Skillshare? regardless, i think online education and learning platforms are going to grow, period. the demand, especially internationally, is crazy high. i don't believe that in person interaction and learning will ever go away. but the connected internet and mobile devices will fundamentally change the way we learn over the next decade and beyond.
Jack Smith
Jack Smith@_jacksmith · Serial Entrepreneur & Startup Adviser
Hi Mo. How did you end up getting to know your fellow Partners at Spark Capital and end up joining the firm?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@_jacksmith Hi Jack. I first met Santo, one of Spark's founders, through a mutual friend that he went to business school with. Spark was raising their first fund at the time, and we stayed in touch. I ended up meeting some of the other partners as well and, over the years, helped them with diligence on deals and business development across the IAC portfolio. When I decided to leave IAC, I reached out out to a few folks including Spark, and ended up joining the team through a very organic and healthy process.
Emily Hodgins
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@mokoyfman Thanks for being here today. 🙌During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@ems_hodge a) the most challenging moments are when you doubt yourself, at whatever time and in whatever form those doubts come. i work very hard on believing in myself and getting better every day. b) my proudest moments are when i'm able to help someone or something succeed. i can think of a number of examples, but the specifics are less of the point. i really take great personal pride in knowing that something i did made a real difference. c) surprising moments are when people do something wonderful that you don't expect. it's too often that people disappoint, so when they delight, it's a wonderful thing.
Wen Wilson
Wen Wilson@acreerph · CEO & FOUNDER , HEALTHCITE
@mokoyfman . Thank you for your time today. What is a typical day for you? Do you have much daily contact or how does your working relationship with startups look like?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@acreerph i typically am up before 7am, hang with my daughter and wife for a little bit, try to get a work out in at least twice during the week and then spend the rest of the day doing mostly four things: 1) meeting with potential investments, 2) board meetings or other meetings with portfolio companies, 3) internal partner meetings/company presentations, 4) reading/thinking/emailing. the amount of time i spend on each of these varies based on the week/day, but it's generally 35% existing stuff and 35% new stuff and 35% other work stuff (with way too much email!).
Sean Green
Sean Green@disruptart · Founder, ARTERNAL
@mokoyfman thanks for being a part of this chat! Can you please detail what an early and growth stage investment looks like from your perspective. As a founder, I'd like to know as many of us here, when is the right time to approach. And, how should we reach out when ready? Also, I know your interest in Art. Are you considering or would you still consider investments in the Art/Tech space? We're a part of the New Museum Incubator (NEW INC - newinc.org)
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@disruptart early stage investments for us are either seed investments that are sub $3M, have a solid founding team, and a working prototype or product -or- Series A investments that are typically sub $10M, are beginning to build a quality team, and have a working product that is showing early indications of product/market fit. a growth investment is typically $20M and up, with a mostly built out management team, clear product/market fit, a path to scale and long-term competitive advantages.
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@disruptart in terms of approaching us, hopefully that framework guides you. i am certainly interested in disruptive investments in the art space, but it's quite a tough market to crack.
Michael Lee
Michael Lee@mikehlee_
Do you see any interesting startups in the sneaker space? What are some of your favorite companies that you believe have great branding? Thanks for stopping by!
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@mikehlee_ i've seen a couple. i like threeoverseven - i think they've done a good job for an early sneaker/shoe company. common projects does a really great job as well. but i like old school sneaker brands (nike, adidas). on the branding side more generally, i think Warby Parker and Harry's have done a great job on the startup side. Slack has done a wonderful job on the software side. in terms of the big boys, Nike and Apple are just unparalleled. gotta give a nod to Disney, Amex, Rolex and Levi's as well.
Niv Dror
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
Hey @mokoyfman! Good timing on the live chat with @msquinn's announcement yesterday on joining Spark as the first GP in Silicon Valley. Curious, does that mean Spark will be opening a Silicon Valley office, with more partners to come?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@nivo0o0 we already have one! 368 Clementina in Soma. We're open for business! And we have three partners there currently!
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Hey @mokoyfman! What are your daily must reads? Aside from Product Hunt, of course!
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@andrewmettinger lots of email and meetings. endless email and meetings actually. with the occasional break to take in the news, the tweets, the always-on stream of information coming at us everyday. and the enjoyable chat with a partner or colleague in the office to unpack an idea, a business or just shoot the shit. my days are filled though. i often wish i was better at keeping large chunks of them open to just sit, read and think. i do that whenever i can.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey Mo! What is the craziest thing you have seen in a pitch?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@bentossell there are literally too many things to remember! you'd be shocked what kind of crazy stuff comes across our desks...
Mauro Velazquez
Mauro Velazquez@maurovelazquezz · Co-Founder @Coinding @500Startups
@mokoyfman What's the most undervalued market in your opinion right now?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@maurovelazquezz nothing! ;) the best value today might actually be in pockets of the public markets, but that's not my area of expertise. brazil may also be hitting a bottom, so could be interesting...although of course highly risky...
Wen Wilson
Wen Wilson@acreerph · CEO & FOUNDER , HEALTHCITE
Any insights or any personal interests in a particular industry? Are you involved with any healthcare startups ?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@acreerph i love marketplace business models and any businesses that can build meaningful barriers at scale. i also like businesses that solve problems creatively and build products that are delightful to use. in terms of industries, i tend to like those that are big and hairy and have a lot of room for innovation. healthcare certainly fits into this bucket, as does financial services, real estate, autos, home, etc.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@mokoyfman @acreerph when you talk about "home" what do you see the future of that industry as? Are you thinking about home automation or the actual buy/sell/rent process?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@katesegrin @acreerph all of it. how and where we buy products from. how we sell them when we don't need them anymore. how we get advice on home design. how we make our home smarter and more livable. how do we finance our home, how do we find it, sell it. the home is such a central part in our lives, and there are so many interesting ways to make the process of finding it, owning it, living in it and selling it better.
Wen Wilson
Wen Wilson@acreerph · CEO & FOUNDER , HEALTHCITE
Anything you look for in a business plan that catches your attention the most to warrant an investment?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@acreerph yeah, not having a business plan :) seriously though, i don't like business plans. i find that crisp, short presentations are a far better way to tell a story. and any additional information required can be shared in relevant spreadsheets and analyses.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What is the best design you've encountered lately?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@katesegrin I really like what Outdoor Voices and Reformation have done in the fashion space. I think the new Whitney Museum in NYC is amazing. I absolutely love using Slack.
Dan Schiller
Dan Schiller@schillfactor · Busker
How much do you work with companies that you invest in?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@schillfactor a lot. probably half my time.
Candy Queen Store
Candy Queen Store@candyqueenstore · Founder @ Candy Queen Store
What's the best way to approach you, what do you like to see in a deck from entrepreneurs?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@candyqueenstore through a shared connection or someone i trust/respect. a warm intro is always best. i like to see a crisp statement of company purpose. and i like decks that tell a compelling story in a very efficient, intelligent and informative manner.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What do you want your personal brand to say about you, and do you believe you're succeeding?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@katesegrin that i'm thoughtful, curious, interested and interesting. and that i have high integrity and always try to help in any way i can. mostly i want people to think that i'm a good person.
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
What have you found to be some common characteristics of successful founders?
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
@theo_dimarhos vision, intelligence, tenacity, little to lose and a healthy dose of idealistic naïveté
Mo Koyfman
Mo Koyfman@mo_koyfman
Thanks everyone for tuning in today! This has been great! If i miss anything, I'll respond later. Otherwise, hope to see you here again soon...