Soraya Darabi on diversity of LP mandates and the future of emerging fund managers
Soraya Darabi on investing as emerging fund manager and navigating the systemic bias in the world of VC
Soraya Darabi GP and Founder of TMV VC fund
Today we are going to talk to a super woman who is a fund manager investing from her second fund in the future of living well. Previously she co-founded Foodspotting, acquired by OpenTable, then Priceline. She was featured on the cover of Fast Company Magazine, Inc. Magazine "30 Under 30", Fortune Magazine "40 Under 40. She has invested in amazing companies like wing, parsley health, CityBlock health, Henry the dentist , Fi, clockwise and exited on angel investments like Casper, Figs, Gimlet Media, Poptip. Currently she is 8 months pregnant, excited to have this super achiever among us.
Here are the She-VC Questions:
As you started your journey as an emerging fund manager and investing in some great companies, tell us what inspires you to be a fund manager.
Can you elaborate about the new market opportunities for emerging fund managers who are creating their own funds like you? And how has the market changed in the last 5 years with so many seed funds around betting on the early stage market ?
LPs who provide capital to VCs need to start incorporating diversity mandates. There are very small pools of capital in diversity and focussed fund mandates. How do you navigate the world of Institutional LP dynamics?
“Is there diversity on the cap table? on the founding team? on the advisory board?"- Soraya on twitter. To hold you accountable, what is the diversity in your fund and portfolios you are investing?
You have co-founded Foodspotting that got acquired by OpenTable, then Priceline. You also have been a prolific angel investor. Tell us about how you look at returns on your investments.
You pioneered social media for The New York Times in 2007, you have raised more than 50 million dollars for your own endeavors and helped raise over 200 million for the founders you've invested in - across 20+ angel investments alone before becoming a VC. So the million dollar question is how easy/difficult for someone as accomplished as you are to get into the venture capital industry.
Venture Capital is one asset class which is also cyclical. The boom-bust cycle, appetite for high risk but it also has a lock up period for Limited Partners for as long as 15-20 years unlike hedge funds where LPs can redeem their capital out of market panic. For many of us we look at investment as permanent capital that protects from erratic market behavior and good investments need long term commitment. Liquidity has been an issue for LPs for a long time, in a time like this, how do you approach Liquidity position to your incoming LPs?
Venture Capital is one industry that has not been disrupted. As we are seeing more people bringing movement into this industry, how do you see biases and prejudices that played in the past come in effect for people like you who are catalysts for change? Especially an industry where few people make a company, almost like a startup and there is no Human Resource system to talk about any harassment against bad power play.
VC/Investing is often called a bro industry and many relationships are highly transactional. You have helped many unknown early stage startups in social network power play to be one of the powerful companies in the world. From your perspective how did you navigate this transactional industry?