High Tech on the Low hosted by Jordan Kastrinsky, is on a mission to make high tech accessible to the world. In my podcast, I explore the many different facets of the world of high tech from development to marketing, to sales, to entrepreneurship and more! With society turning ever more towards technological solutions to make processes more efficient and secure, it is important, now more than ever, that we unite the high-tech sector's collective resources under one roof to reap the benefits of this knowledge-sharing. There is so much opportunity out there to grow within the industry that we must provide the tools through which to do so.
A self-proclaimed “semiconductor-nerd”, Renana’s start as a principal at Grove Ventures may not seem like the most straightforward, traditional path into the world of venture capital. Having begun her career as an engineer at Applied Materials moving from development to product, Renana spent much of her time learning the world of tech and becoming deeply engrossed in its developments until leaving for the states for her masters. After completing her degree at Northwestern University, and a baptism into the startup world through the fire of an unsuccessful venture, combined yet with another stint at Applied Materials, Renana eventually met Israeli tech-legend, Dov Moran, and after some conversations soon joined Grove.
Renana has grown with Grove and, today, she serves as a General Partner, overseeing investments and the firm’s current portfolio companies. “I started at the end of our first fund, Grove 1, and now we are investing out of our third fund, and all in all we are managing half a billion dollars.” She stresses that at Grove, they pride themselves in really providing a service beyond the investments, one that helps position their companies in the market with a solid foundation through a close escort they offer their companies.
Yet, it would be a mistake to assume all venture capital funds are like this. As Renana hints, “not all VCs are created equal” and it is important to really assess each VC (or investor, in general) before deciding whether they are the right investment opportunity for your startup. More importantly, Renana knows how to evaluate the right opportunity for Grove as well.
In Renana’s view, it is the team that is truly the driving mechanism behind any venture. “We invest in teams - give me a mediocre product, but a fantastic founding team over a fantastic product and mediocre team any day.” At the end of the day, a rockstar team can make a venture just as a losing team can destroy it and be unable to endure the challenges that come with a startup. Still, she emphasizes that when pitching to investors founders must do their homework.
“There is a clear difference between not knowing because you thought it wasn’t important or you didn’t consider it versus not knowing because you actually don’t know something,” Renana highlights. Founders need to understand that they must come prepared to any investor presentation and be ready to impress. One key way of impressing an investor, according to Renana, and at least for her is market validation.
When she describes the fund's companies “you see about a third of our companies are the crazy things, the things pushing the frontier and the rest are a variety of tech ventures, but we invest in 'venturable' solutions.” What does she mean? They invest in businesses - things that can make money. So, if you are coming to an investor and can prove the market needs it, well, then you may just have a winning venture.
“The most important thing an entrepreneur has is his/her time - so look into the VCs, see if they are worth your time, and when you come, show me anything about validation, that’s what I’m really looking for.”