David Goldberg is a family man. It's clear as day in the research I did on him, and it was very much part of my internal agenda to have that context in mind when doing this interview. I could tell that David is a person that I could see myself having extended conversations about self-discovery, family, and the purpose of life. It's just too bad we didn't get to the latter.
David is a founder-investor, in that his deep roots as a founder drives everything he does, from the way he invests, to the way he works with his portfolio of investments. "It's about the relationships," says David, and I couldn't agree more. From building his first company FreshNeck, which was acquired in 2014, to building a fund where he could become part of his founder's startups, he ascribes a lot of his hard work ethic from his mother, who was a consummate and "scrappy" entrepreneur who dropped out of college to build her company and was the breadwinner of the family for decades. While he may have gotten his work ethic from his mother, his understanding of how to be a gentleman who acts and treats others with empathy is something he ascribes to his father.
I wanted to know how his time spent as a lawyer translated into venture capital. First, it was how to manage 'deal flow' in terms of tons of casework. Secondly, he learned how to work with people and understand what they were really all about:
"I learned several things from being a District Attorney, one of those was understanding people. Understanding motivations, skillsets, incentives, working with people on the same side of the table and the opposite side of the table."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
I thoroughly enjoyed David's story of FreshNeck which was his take on the sharing economy where people could rent out accessories to each other on a subscription basis. FreshNeck started off first as a part-time gig, but when he received great feedback and traction, there was a point where he had to go full time. Being in traditional finance, the accessories you wear outside of a suit could be leveraged and loaned to others! What I love the most is that his startup idea was grown out of his own problems with a lack of wardrobe usage! But isn't this the quintessential way to build a startup? You have a problem, you build the solution to the problem!
I wondered why he sold his company, as I believe that the sharing economy is only booming and if he had persisted on it, he could have a great business on his hands! As a first-time founder when David created FreshNeck, he came across all of the same issues that all first-time founders encounter: lack of experience in how to actually build a company!
"As a first-time founder, I made so many mistakes that now inform my ability to help many first-time founders avoiding some of those roadblocks. Entrepreneurship also takes a lot of passion, and I don't think I was willing to spend the next decade of my life renting out ties."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
What struck me is that as a founder myself who has gone through the venture capital system, there was a lot lacking in terms of the VCs actually being helpful. The problem of being a first-time founder is that you really know nothing about how to build a business, and I assumed that maybe David's reason for building a venture fund was a response to his not-so-good experiences as a founder. Turns out, I was correct! When he got together with his partner Ryan Freedman to build the venture fund, they had an eye on making their venture fund be better than their experiences:
"We aligned on all of the things that we got wrong and all of the things that we yearned for, and it had nothing to do with our specific industries. It was around your basic, foundation, building skills. How do you think about culture, funding and capital sources, hiring talent and managing them and building internal operating systems. That is the type of value and platform we've built and try to provide to many of our founders."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
I loved the fact that Corigin Ventures was a response to his not-so-good experiences as a founder. So how do David and Ryan help early-stage founders?
"There are two types of strong founders in the venture ecosystem, one is the serial founder, they've been there three times, they know how to take a company from 0 to X. Regardless of what sector they go into, they will hire out industry experts to fill in those gaps. The other type is a first-time founder who probably doesn't know how to do those foundational things, but is an industry expert, we help fill those gaps of basic business building [at Corigin Ventures]."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
After reading David's blog post from January 23, 2017, about going to the VC Reboot conference or "an exercise in radical self-inquiry," I wanted to dig into how that influenced and changed his life. What I appreciate is that even though it's hard to really communicate the application of that experience, this experience allowed him to really dig into self-discovery and understand who he was as a person. This led to a 2-year experience going through the 22nd class of Kauffman Fellowship. I highly recommend anyone, everyone really, to find opportunities like this to discover more about themselves, or as David said:
"[Going to the VC Reboot Conference] really began a journey of understanding who I wanted to be as an investor and how I wanted to act as a human, being more intentional, the people I surround myself with, where I want to play in the venture ecosystem, the types of companies I want to invest in, and the type of role I want to have."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
"How are you complicit in the conditions you say you don't want."Jerry Colonna - Founder of Reboot.io
I really enjoyed our conversation around David's self-discovery process, one that I hope all of our listeners continue to do in their lives!
I particularly enjoyed David's conceit that he (like everyone including myself) deals with imposter syndrome in that we need to play it up as if we are experts.
"In truth, being self-aware is really important in understanding what your lane is, where you can help, where you should just be getting out of the way of the investor, and maybe just be receptive to listening and hearing rather than trying to impart wisdom on someone else."David Goldberg | VC Hunting S2E13
It's clear to me that if you're a founder or entrepreneur who is looking for a great fund who really listens and helps, Corigin Venture might just be the place for you. Check them out, just know that Frozen 2, the movie, was shit.
I wish David and his team all the best as they continue their mastery of how to build a top-shelf venture fund. These guys are people to watch.
Enjoy my short retrospective!
Och, ya cannae beat the smell of fresh pine in the breeze.
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