The inaugural VC Speaker Series with Asheem Chandna of Greylock Ventures, one of the oldest and most respected venture capital firms in the United States, brought together the campus community, entrepreneurs and startups of all kinds for an evening of conversation and knowledge sharing.
“The purpose of tonight is to discuss where we can introduce people to some of the process and elements that go into talking to VCs,” shared Glenn Chisholm, moderator for the evening and co-founder of Obsidian Security, a Newport Beach-based cybersecurity startup backed by Greylock Ventures.
Listed in Forbes’ Midas List as a top technology investor for the last six years, Chandna, a partner at Greylock, was also featured in the 2017 New York Times’ inaugural Top 20 Venture Capitalists Worldwide list. Chandna’s perspective is informed by a robust career both as an investor and business leader, with numerous mergers and acquisitions, and exponential growth resulting from his direction. Along with a team of highly-renowned venture partners, he invests in two core areas, consumer internet and enterprise IT, and manages a billion dollar fund. Greylock’s portfolio include investments in the early days of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Airbnb to name a few.
Following the introductions of both Chisholm and Chandna, Richard Sudek, chief innovation officer and executive director at UCI Applied Innovation, kicked off the event by thanking event sponsors Knobbe Martens, TriNet, Greylock Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank. The first question of the night revolved around what a VC looks for in founders and companies they will invest in, Chandna shared that he looks for someone who is mission-focused with a long-term commitment, has work-related experience at a previous company, and the ability to attract and retain talent who will help build and scale the business. Chisholm distinguished two common VC approaches: a distant approach where money is provided and the company is left on its own, and the partner approach where the VC works collaboratively with the company to scale and improve. Encountering both types of VCs, Chisholm noted Greylock’s collaborative approach as what drew his company’s interest in the firm.
Chandna elaborated on Greylock’s collaborative approach with startups, describing how partners interact with technical founders that will present to the firm.
“[It is common] that a partner will sit down, meet with a technical founder, work with them over multiple meetings, and collaborate with them on the presentation, and then take that presentation back to the partnership.”
With several partners coming from strong operating backgrounds and companies of all sizes, Chandna stressed the value of early interaction between the firm and the companies it invests in to cultivate deeper bonds and better insights on how they can grow.
Following the discussion, the audience participated in a Q&A session with both Chisholm and Chandna. Questions ranged from VC interest in VR, blockchain and the current investment climate for emerging companies interested in engaging with venture capital.
To learn more about the next VC Speaker Series event, visit innovation.uci.edu/events.