A CEO I invested in asked me about raising money from Sequoia Capital recently, so figured I would share with the group, hopefully, to share some learnings.
We were two years into building Kahuna and we were again constrained by capital. We had closed Tier 1 customers and needed a bigger team to better support them and build more product, faster. Hence I was starting the A round fundraising.
I made the common mistake of living and breathing Kahuna. (nuanced discussion on how much is ‘too much’ focus on your start-up) My answer was always to do more work, to the detriment of family and health (CEOs, make sure you work out at least three times a week — it makes everything better).
That said, I held on to one activity — Stanford Football games. Being born and raised in Palo Alto, and attending Stanford twice, I bleed Cardinal red.
Lesson #1: Collaborate with people you like
David Bergeron and I, with the support of T3 and Bain Capital Ventures, started the Founders’ Tailgate in 2011. This is basically an excuse to have a beer with good people before Stanford Games in ‘The Grove.’ Dave and his team have since taken it over with great success. T3 and my partnership is on year 10, with no signs of slowing down.
Lesson #2: You gotta be standing in the middle of the road to get hit by the Lucky Truck — Mike Maples
It was 2013, I was at the tailgate, and who shows up but Maynard Webb. For those who don’t know Maynard, he is a force in Silicon Valley. Even better, his career traversed from security guard to big baller, and he is still that same ol’ G.
There are a small number of people in Silicon Valley that are immensely talented and immensely giving. They are always willing to help and are so secure that they never ask for anything. Maynard is one of those people. My advice, if you find one of these ‘forces of good,’ do anything you can to return the favor.
Maynard had donated to my non-profit, the Glow Foundation, and asked me what I was up to. I shared a little about Kahuna and he asked, ‘would you like to talk to Sequoia Capital about it?’ Of course, I said yes and he said ‘cool, send me an email and I’ll send it along to Jim.’
For those who don’t know Jim Goetz, he is the guy in the gold jacket always sitting court-side at the Warriors game. Oh yeah, he also was the lead investor in WhatsApp, Palo Alto Networks, and a few other multi-billion dollar winners.
Jim got the email, sent it to Omar Hamoui, who had founded a landmark mobile company in AdMob, and the rest is history.