Paige Craig

VC at ArenaVC & former Marine

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 21, 2016

Discussion

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@bentossell · newCo
What are your favourite questions to ask founders?
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 · 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@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@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 · angel
@getsmartnyc it doesn't disqualify someone - everybody's path is unique.
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 · 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@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@bentossell · newCo
Why did you make the move from angel investing to VC and what have been your biggest takeaways?
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 · 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@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 · 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@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?
Cyril Boggs Serrano@cyril_boggs_serrano · Head of Product @ YogaClub
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 · 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 · 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 · 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@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's one thing you're scared of?
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@andrewett im always scared of getting bored and/or not having an impact
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 · 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@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 · 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 · 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 · Founder & CEO of My Style Authority
@paigecraig I appreciate your response. Thanks
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 · 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 · 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 · 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@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 · 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@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 · 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 · angel
@micah more engineers; more capital
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 · 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 · 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@stellayu · Founder | Reputation Management
Could you elaborate on "I invest very early in brilliant, driven founders who 'Think big/Execute Small'"?
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 · angel
@stellayu "Think Big / Execute Small" represents the "Strategy / Tactical" combination that I'm looking for in a founder.
Stella Yu@stellayu · Founder | Reputation Management
@paigecraig Thank you for sharing your response with us.
Tom Schapira@tschapira · Business Development & Strategy @ FIS
What's your take on crowdfunding when it's open to the general public?
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@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 · angel
@macclabs that really depends on what qualities you bring to the table and what business you're going after
paigecraig@paigecraig · angel
@macclabs basic combo for me is one person who sells / one person who builds
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Did you read Matt Joseph's "Tweet storm" - thoughts?
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.