20VC: Semil Shah on The Biggest Mistakes VCs and LPs Made Over the Last 24 Months, Why LP Churn is Coming, Core Lessons on Scaling from $1M Haystack Fund I to Today and How To Find, Win and Manage LPs as an Emerging Manager
Semil Shah is the Founder of Haystack, one of the leading pre-seed and seed firms of the last decade. Among Semil's portfolio include the likes of DoorDash ($DASH), Instacart, Hashicorp ($HCP), Opendoor ($OPEN), Figma (acquired by Adobe), Carta and many more exceptional companies. Semil's first fund is marked between a 30 and 40x fund, astonishing.
In Today's Episode with Semil Shah We Discuss:
1.) The Makings of Semil Shah:
- What is Semil running away from? What is he running towards?
- What does Semil know now that he wishes he had known when entering venture?
- What is Semil's biggest advice to managers raising their first funds now?
2.) Fund Sizing: Growing vs Staying Disciplined:
- Question from Hunter Walk: How does Semil determine the right size fund to raise with each fund
- Question from Satya Patel: Why have you resisted increasing AUM?
- In the last episode Semil mentioned a three-year deployment cycle for the fund, did he stick to it? What are the benefits and drawbacks?
- What investing mistakes did Semil make over the last 3 years that he wishes he had not made?
3.) The Secret to Fundraising for a Fund:
- What is Semil's biggest advice to emerging managers on finding new LPs? What works?
- What materials do managers need to have in place for a new fundraise? Deck? Dataroom?
- What are the most common mistakes VCs make when pitching LPs their funds?
- How does Semil follow-up with potential LPs post-call? What works? What does not?
- How does Semil suggest creating a sense of urgency for LPs to commit to a fund?
- How does Semil feel about giving preferential terms to convince LPs to commit to the first close?
4.) The Current Landscape:
- How will the current landscape impact emerging managers' ability to raise?
- What advice would Semil give to them? Raise smaller?
- Kyle Harrison said on the show recently, “differentiation will kill 80% of venture firms, especially the so-so ones”. Does Semil agree? Who is set to struggle? Who is set to thrive in this environment?
- What does Semil think are the biggest mistakes LPs made over the last 2-3 years?
- How will they respond in this market cycle?
- If Semil were handed an endowment fund, how would he allocate today?
- Does Semil agree, we will see a denigration of venture returns to those of PE like multiples? Why?
- How does Semil advise founders on raising today when everyone says they are investing but very few really are?
- How does Semil advise founders on how to think about valuation inflection points with respect to raising capital?
Items Mentioned in Today's Episode:
Semil's Favourite Article: Master of Play
Semil's Most Recent Investment: Impart Security