paigecraig

Paige Craig

VC at ArenaVC & former Marine

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 21, 2016

Discussion

paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
Hi - I'm Paige Craig, partner at Arena Ventures ($40M seed fund), former angel and US Marine. I invest very early in brilliant, driven founders who 'Think big / Execute Small'. Prior to VC life I was an angel for six years and funded 100 companies including Wish, Lyft, Angellist, Postmates, Gusto and my fave Laurel & Wolf. I have strong, biased opinions so please ask me anything.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@bentossell honestly every discussion is different; I approach each meeting as a unique chance to understand the founders. I have 33 characteristics I want to explore, but I prefer to do it via conversation and reacting to the situation
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@bentossell some things that really interest me: How did you get here (I love to know the key decisions / pivot points in a person's life back to high school)
Andrew WagnerTrugman
Andrew WagnerTrugman@monst3rtruck · Product Manager Whisper
Hey @paigecraig how has your investment strategy changed with the recent correction in startup funding? Are you looking for the same things?
GetSmart.org
GetSmart.org@getsmartnyc · Jack D / Head of Product
Without getting into your proprietary 33 characteristics, I'm wondering if someone who has not been an entrepreneur previously (but has 10 years of corporate experience) will be disqualified by your screens because it "took too long" for them to pursue a business venture? How would someone with this background prove that they have what it takes in your firm's initial process?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@getsmartnyc it doesn't disqualify someone - everybody's path is unique.
Michael Witham
Michael Witham@mgwitham · Traklight
First, thank you for your service to this country. My favorite professor from college, pursuing his PHD, shared his military experiences and the parallels to operating a business/corporation/team. (https://repository.asu.edu/attac...) How has your experience as a Marine impacted your business acumen, specifically from an operations perspective?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@mgwitham the Marine Corps taught me a lot; combat taught me even more. I draw a lot of my thoughts and framework from my military studies at West Point and my practical experience in Iraq, Afghanistan. Some of the biggest things are people are your most critical asset, speed is key, focus, lean operations
Frank Allen
Frank Allen@frankdegeorgejr · YouStake.com
@paigecraig @mgwitham what are your thoughts on investing in former military entrepreneurs? are there certain traits they carry you admire?
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Why did you make the move from angel investing to VC and what have been your biggest takeaways?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@bentossell investing takes years to know if you're good; after 7 years angel investing I felt confident I could invest successfully AND I realized that I still love it. Starting @arenavc gave me the chance to have a bigger impact and work with an amazing team Jeff Lo, TJ Hennessy and Francis Shih
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@bentossell biggest takeaway is that VC is a team game - ideally a small team - and the right team holds me accountable to our principles and drives me to be better
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Paige! Thank you for joining us :) What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@eriktorenberg I used to believe every founder needed a true passion for their specific business model; but I've since met many founders who have a true passion for "the business of business" and theyve built massive companies
Jesse Middleton
Jesse Middleton@srcasm · VC @Flybridge. Co-founder @WeWorkLabs.
@paigecraig @eriktorenberg I think that's right BUT deep passion for the problem being solved will likely get you through the low points. There are other ways too I'm sure. Just curious, how have you helped founders get through the lowest of the low?
Cy Serrano
Cy Serrano@cy_serrano
Hey @paigecraig! Big fan. Are there any founders that you initially passed on that have since impressed or surprised you? What advice do you give to folks who don't pass your initial screen, but you see potential in? Or will you invest in potential?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@cyserrano Clutter, Thrive, Mobcrush have all surprised me: i passed in the early days for very different reasons but tons of respect for what these folks have pulled off
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@cyserrano I always wish people success and often acknowledge to them (as well as my team) that we are not in the business of killing dreams. Even if we don't believe in a founder or deal we have to realize that we shouldn't bias other investors. And really investors shouldn't look to other investors for feedback on a deal (unless it's of a technical / true data driven nature)
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@cyserrano I don't invest in pure potential - I need to see execution/experimentation/creation expressed in a person's life, although that could happen prior to MVP
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's one thing you're scared of?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@andrewett im always scared of getting bored and/or not having an impact
Evan Zhou
Evan Zhou@evanczhou · Co-Founder, STEEZY
Hey Paige! Any advice for companies in LA and what do you think are some unique advantages for LA companies? Thanks for your time!
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@evanczhou LA stands out for its creative talent; sales/biz dev hustlers. LA also represents every demographic you'll ever sell into across America. It's one of the best cities to test and scale your business.
Evan Zhou
Evan Zhou@evanczhou · Co-Founder, STEEZY
@paigecraig dope, makes sense! Also, TJ was awesome when we met the other week. Great team at Arena. 👍
Jessica Dew
Jessica Dew@jessica_dew · Founder & CEO of My Style Authority
Hi Paige! My name is Jessica Dew and I'm the founder and CEO of a beauty matching tech startup called My Style Authority. My questions for you are as follows: How can a startup gain the attention and financial investment from VC like yourself? Also, how should startups approach investors of whom they'd like to partner with?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@jessica_dew assuming you have something to show (ie an MVP that's been used by a small but fanatical group of users) : find local investors; hound them relentlessly until they meet with you.
Jessica Dew
Jessica Dew@jessica_dew · Founder & CEO of My Style Authority
@paigecraig I appreciate your response. Thanks
GetSmart.org
GetSmart.org@getsmartnyc · Jack D / Head of Product
If a deal comes through one of the associates, vs. yourself or Jeff, is there a higher hurdle for that deal relative to coming in through one of our personal connections?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@getsmartnyc no - we're a very close team and many of our deals are sourced and led by TJ and Frank. Avoiding them is a very very bad idea
Jessica Dew
Jessica Dew@jessica_dew · Founder & CEO of My Style Authority
Hi Paige, in regards to Ben's question regarding characteristics of the founders you choose, can you name your top 5 founder characteristics that aid you in your decision making process?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@jessica_dew there's not a true top 5 yet; but we group these characteristics into 4 Buckets: Vision, Execution, Intelligence and Character. Personally I'm a bit biased around execution, learning curve, speed and focus
Dilip Malave
Dilip Malave@dilipmalave
Hi @Paigecraig, First of all thanks for your service. I am based in LA and a huge fan. I actually was able to get an email response from you to a question I asked on Quora way back in 2014. Anyways, my question to you is, you and Arena Ventures are prolific investors and have a huge portfolio, can you talk a little bit about how you handle a situation when you have 2 companies (A & B) that are similar but one (Company A) you've already invested in and the other (Company B) looks like it might disrupt Company A. Assuming all the other variables are constant (team, CEO, hustle, etc)
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@dilipmalave we try to avoid those conflicts. When a deal comes in that may conflict we let the incoming founder know there may be a conflict and then we reach out to the existing founder and ask them how they feel about it
Dilip Malave
Dilip Malave@dilipmalave
@paigecraig thanks for the response. More specifically then, do you consider FitMob an exit and would you then consider investing in a new startup in the space or would that conflict with, in this case ClassPass?
Micah Baldwin
Micah Baldwin@micah · Old Founder. Grey hairs and everything.
If you could extract one thing from the SF startup ecosystem and embed it in the LA startup ecosystem, what would it be?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@micah more engineers; more capital
Osandi Sekoú
Osandi Sekoú@osandisekou
Was investing in such a diverse portfolio of women led ventures intentional? How has it shaped or impacted your experiences as a VC within the industry?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@osandisekou our investment in women wasnt intentional; just a by product of a very detailed founder methodology consisting of 33 characteristics. But I LOVE the results
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@osandisekou the biggest impact for me is that I'm very aware of the biases out there: race, gender, sexual preference, education, appearance all impact human decision making. But i think a lot of that bias comes into the early stage of investment where investors start investing in what they know, what they feel comfortable with - and many times thats people that look like them.
Stella Yu
Stella Yu@stellayu · Founder | Reputation Management
Could you elaborate on "I invest very early in brilliant, driven founders who 'Think big/Execute Small'"?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@stellayu Thing Big: means have a big audacious idea - some unique insight into the world that hints at a massively scalable and impactful business; Execute Small: means i'm looking for people who in their daily activities are doing the important things like coding, winning and talking to to customers.
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@stellayu "Think Big / Execute Small" represents the "Strategy / Tactical" combination that I'm looking for in a founder.
Stella Yu
Stella Yu@stellayu · Founder | Reputation Management
@paigecraig Thank you for sharing your response with us.
Tom Schapira
Tom Schapira@tschapira · Business Development & Strategy @ FIS
What's your take on crowdfunding when it's open to the general public?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@tschapira I think we have a ways to go. I'm excited by the idea of opening up investments to everyone provided the public is protected
Carmen
Carmen@macclabs · travel writer, cofounder
Hello Paige, what would you think is the most important skill a co-founder of a start-up should bring, apart of the enthusiasm and believe. Thank you
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@macclabs that really depends on what qualities you bring to the table and what business you're going after
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@macclabs basic combo for me is one person who sells / one person who builds
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Did you read Matt Joseph's "Tweet storm" - thoughts?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@andrewett yes and I AGREE - lets not hide from this: there is bias out there. I also agree with Matt's point that overcoming bias is a key indicator. oddly enough I'm more likely to fund a minority, a woman, someone who's come from poverty or overcome other hardships.
Vic Hill Jr.
Vic Hill Jr.@thee_vichill · Co-Founder @ WeXplor Inc
Hello Mr Craig, we met at Silicon Beach Fest and I am also a military brother, What is the best way to get a meeting with you and/or your team at ArenaVC?
Vic Hill Jr.
Vic Hill Jr.@thee_vichill · Co-Founder @ WeXplor Inc
@paigecraig @arenavc Much Appreciated!
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What characteristics do you think typically great founders possess?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@ems_hodge i think there are several types that we invest in; but speed, learning curve, product vision, focus, judgement are incredibly important. There are also some unique psychological factors we look for
Carmen
Carmen@macclabs · travel writer, cofounder
Hi Paige, and have you found massive differences between male./.female lead businesses - if any?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@macclabs at the extreme risk of over-generalization, I think female founders are more realistic/honest and multi-task better; no idea why exactly. Female founders have also overcome a lot of bias to get here and that in itself is a powerful signal
GetSmart.org
GetSmart.org@getsmartnyc · Jack D / Head of Product
WHEN is the right time to approach Arena? Some advisors say to "get to you know you guys" early, but the risk there is that we underwhelm you with execution because we started the conversation pre-revenue/pre-launch. If we wait until execution though, you may say "let's get to know you first" and pass on that immediately actionable round.
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@getsmartnyc get to know us early and say "I know it's too early, but I'd love to explore this idea with you"; if it's unique and interesting we love meeting founders well before they've accomplished much. But the idea needs to be unique
Bill Hendricks
Bill Hendricks@billhendricksjr · Product Manager, Servant Leader
Your personal story as described in http://www.laweekly.com/news/in-... is fascinating. Are there critical details this piece got wrong or omitted?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@billhendricksjr the idea that I invest on "gut instinct" isn't exactly true; there's a pretty disciplined framework - but it's also a process that would bore most readers. so "gut instinct" probably sounds better
James Xiao
James Xiao@_jamesxiao_
@paigecraig Mr Craig you are super experienced on both side of pitch so I'd like to ask your a quick opinion on a "Matrix" like difficulty in explanation I met recently: when I trying to pitch how my product improves the intuitiveness of interaction in VR, it feels like I'm trying to explain the Matrix -- unfortunately no body can be Told what VR interaction really is, they have to experience it themselves -- so in situation like this when the communication is limited to verbal only, in your opinion any alternatives? -- such as changing the description , or it might be easier to just change the audience to some one who already has the experience?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@_jamesxiao_ id pick investors who already love VR and have experience with it
James Xiao
James Xiao@_jamesxiao_
@paigecraig Thanks a lot for your expert opinion! that was also what I thought should be the better way especially at this moment of quick changes in the area.
Loren Sands-Ramshaw
Loren Sands-Ramshaw@lorendsr · CTO @parlay
What metrics do you need to see to invest in a social app at seed stage?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@lorendsr no metrics; we probably won't invest in a social app.
Simal Adenwala
Simal Adenwala@adenwalasimal · President, Poly Founders
Are there more innovations happening in the world or does it seem like it since we are always exposed to them due to social media?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@adenwalasimal i think the world is becoming more interconnected and my gut is that innovation is becoming more efficient; talent, knowledge, capital meeting together because of less friction
Simal Adenwala
Simal Adenwala@adenwalasimal · President, Poly Founders
Hi Paige! My name is Simal and I am President of the entrepreneurship org at Cal Poly Pomona. I used to intern for Topwick and I recently organized a large hackathon at my college. Your former co-founder, George Ishii, was also there. Question: Are there more innovations happening in the world or does it seem like it since we are always exposed to them due to social media?
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@paigecraig Monsieur Craig, pleasure to see you recently in SF and to have you on @twentyminutevc I think my question to you is, how has your investment decision making altered over time as an investor and what development are you most pleased to have corrected?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@harrystebbings @twentyminutevc when i first started I was very attracted to brilliant ideas; it took me some time to realize that founder characteristics are far more important
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Which skills did you learn in the Marines that help you invest?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@andrewett speed, intensity, simplicity, how strategy/operations/tactics work together... lots of important stuff.
Axel Flores
Axel Flores@axel_flores · Entreprenuer
how do you turn an idea into a start up?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@axel_flores you just start by making something small that expresses that idea - that could be a slack channel, email list, shopify page - whatever YOU can build (not outsource) to explore the idea with a small but highly interested community
Vigan Bytyqi
Vigan Bytyqi@viganb · Product Developer, Founder Animus Home
Do investors often walk away from investments just by loosing interest?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@viganb if a deal is conducted over too long of a period you do run this risk; i think the bigger risk is on the VC side when we spend too much time thinking about a deal. It's easy to talk yourself out of investing because rationally all great startups are hard and the odds are against you. You have to spend the right amount of time on diligence and once you realize its a fit move in quickly and close
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@viganb but founders often make the mistake of pitching too early, fundraising for months and when a deal gets shopped around for too long it is a bad signal and investors will avoid it. It's better to work intensely on your startup and when you realize you have something incredible and honestly deserve capital to scale this thing you go out and talk to a small number of investors. Focus you time on the small group of investors who show true interest in you and your business and get the round down quickly
Vigan Bytyqi
Vigan Bytyqi@viganb · Product Developer, Founder Animus Home
What kind of research should one do on a potential VC?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@viganb talk to past founders; check out their portfolio, social media and writing/videos on how they think
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How have you evolved as an investor over time?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@eriktorenberg like most founders I started off just trying shit; I had zero financial/VC education so I just went with what I thought was right. I operate on a pretty rigorous feedback loop always questioning my process, my investments and slowly getting better. I'd say I've become much better at avoiding FOMO, understanding the key principles of what makes founders great, understanding what I shouldn't invest in, and an awesome network of people I enjoy working with and learning from.
Would it be a good move to go straight to a VC opposed to meeting an angel investor first? what's the best way to get in contact with one in your opinion?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@eltechinc you should chat with angels/seed funds first unless you have a track record and unique reason to talk to later stage VCs
@paigecraig so on that note...Whats the best way to steal 15 mins of your day for a demo?
Mike Slagh
Mike Slagh@mslagh · Help companies hire veterans w/shift.org
Thanks for doing this. Do you have a daily ritual that centers you? Or helps you find balance?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@mslagh get outdoors; work out and think without the pressure of phone or email
Michael Schneider
Michael Schneider@schneider · CEO, Service
Why have you chosen to stay in LA versus move up north? What's special about LA? How do you think the ecosystem compares?
paigecraig
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@schneider I love the creativity, outdoors and hustle of LA; and my fiance isn't leaving ever ;)