On Wednesday June 14, 2023, I attended a Breakfast & Networking Event at the Bain Capital Ventures offices in San Francisco. I’d never been to San Fran before, but decided to make the trek from NYC out west because I thought it’d be fun and informative. Even though I knew I’d only be able to spend a total of 30 hours on the ground, I was excited to learn more about this Venture Capital world I’m diving into, as well as meet Arlan and some of our fellow cohort members.
The event was small and intimate, but there was a nice sampling of people from all different parts of VC.
When I arrived, there were 2 other people present — Carol Espy Wilson and David Przygoda, both of whom are from Omnispeech, one of Backstage Capital’s “headliners” (a company BC invests in).
I introduced myself to Carol and David and asked if I could join them at their table.
They were lovely and welcoming, and I’d come to find out later that Carol is not only the Founder and CTO at Omnispeech, but she’s also breaking barriers right & left in her field. She is the first African American woman to get a PHD in Electrical Engineering from MIT … and her daughter is now the first African American woman to be on faculty in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science at MIT! Talk about impressive!
The next person to join our table was Amanda Heyman. Amanda was a Backstage Catalyst in the first cohort and is now a Founding MP at Tundra Ventures, an early stage VC firm that invests primarily in Tech, Healthcare and CPG. I spent a good deal of time chatting with Amanda about her experience as a Catalyst and what she’s doing now with her own fund. It was inspiring to see someone who was in our shoes as a student just a short time ago now running her own operation and thriving. During our chat, I took a moment to ask Amanda a question I’d been wondering — where does one get their industry news in the VC world? Are there newsletters I should subscribe to, specific people I should follow on social media, etc? Amanda was kind enough to rattle off a few sources she follows regularly. See that list below*
As, the room filled up and people took their seats, Arlan and Amit officially kicked off the event with a short introduction. A mic was passed around and we each said a couple lines about who we are and what our professional background is.
Amit then discussed his role at BCV as the Head of their Seed Fund Program, a growing arm of BCV where they invest in emerging fund managers who are collaborating with founders/companies in the Pre-Seed and Seed stage.
Arlan and Amit went on to chat about a host of topics, including how to build relationships in VC and how AI is quickly becoming a game changer. Our co-hort classmate, Tiffany Yu asked how they are beginning to think about AI and Amit discussed wanting to invest in companies that are “defensible” and not just a wrapper around GPT.
One of the main takeaways I took from the event and from what we’re learning in class is that VC seems to really revolve around the people. It seems like relationships and connections are at the core of everything. This was a refreshing reminder for me. To be honest, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by how tech-heavy the content seems to be. But when I’m reminded that the essence lies in the people themselves — building relationships, offering assistance, and connecting individuals who could mutually benefit but might not have met without my introduction — personally, that makes me feel more comfortable and at ease.
After Arlan and Amit spoke, we were all given a chance to mingle a bit more. I chatted with Amit about his background and what led him to BCV.
I also met and spoke with Christie Pitts, former GP at Backstage and current VP, Operations at Mahmee (a Backstage headliner!). She was able to offer really great insight into how to identify one’s own transferable skills and reapply them to VC.
The event ended with a few of us current cohort members speaking with Arlan on tape about our experience. You may have seen that video posted here:
Afterwards, our classmate Sowmya and I got to know one another over a quick lunch before my flight back to NY.
It was a whirlwind 40-hour trip, and approximately 10 of those hours were spent on an airplane, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
A few days later, our classmate Ramel and I shared perspectives via LinkedIn and he told me, “Attending the event provided me with firsthand insights into venture firms. I discovered that these firms can develop a thesis based on the types of founders they support or the industries they focus on. However, a thesis is not rigidly confined to a single perspective; like everything else, it has the potential to pivot and evolve over time.”
I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more and I’ve even started revising my own thesis since SF.
I’m looking forward to the next event and meeting more of you!
*Amanda Heyman’s list of industry news & newsmakers to follow: