Lindsay Lee is the founder and managing member of Authentic Ventures. Authentic Ventures is an early stage VC firm based in Oakland CA. Lindsay has worked many years in the investment industries as well as venture capital and ran a direct investment fund. Authentic ventures is a new kind of firm focused primarily on women and under-represented minority founders. Authentic Ventures is focused on building its own network of women founders of more diverse backgrounds and entrepreneurs who really want to see success translate into more opportunities for their communities.
Coming from modest beginnings and raised by immigrant parents from the West Indies, his parents really solidified the importance of education. Lindsay has worked in investment banking as an analyst alongside graduates of Ivy League schools, there he learned about his own determination to excel even in tough working conditions while learning as much as possible. After graduating from graduate school Lindsay started an ill-fated technology start up in 1999; funding was hard to find in the early naughts (00’s) especially for Black founders.
After pivoting to working in asset management companies Lindsay joined a family office where he built and managed a portfolio. He reached a turning point there where he was able to look at public and private investments and assess the landscape. Lindsay decided he wanted to differentiate himself and focus efforts on really approaching investment in his own way, to invest in “early stage companies,” as opposed to series A or series B companies. A peer at another firm told him that it was going to be double the effort and twice the financing to get it off the ground. Lindsay’s drive and the network he was a part of propelled him through the challenges.
The conversation touches upon the “rules of the game” for galvanizing new ideas and bringing new products and companies into the market. He speaks about the roles that entrepreneurs, lawyers and investors have in capital markets. Lindsay found his calling as an investor was one where he was a coach, rather than an entrepreneur who is trying to score goals all the time. Lindsay describes how his focus was on cultivating relationships and community in order to grow an interconnected network that would allow for long lasting impact in the landscape while also bringing success to his firm.
He shares that the one thing he’s had to get right is finding A+ people to work with. In his approach as an investor he is trying to set the table for women of color and reserve, or build, a seat at the table that allows for success to be shared. Lindsay believes this focus will lead to more opportunities for more diverse teams. For folks interested in becoming an investor or entrepreneur Lindsay speaks about the importance of team building and utilizing the connections they already have as capital. He also urges people to not ignore the skills they’ve gained by applying themselves and that those skills plus knowledge of the space they’re focused on can create something that’s meaningful.
Impactful Moments During Podcast
00:00 - Welcome back to the Hacker Valley Studio, introducing Lindsay Lee of Authentic Ventures, a VC firm that invests in seed and early stage companies.
02:30 - Building a more diverse inclusive VC network and culture.
04:30 - What the exploration of VC was like for Lindsay and what were some of the motivations for moving in this way in that sphere.
06:45 - Why it’s important for diversity that a firm like Authentic Ventures exists in Silicon Valley and the tech community.
07:20 - How VC firms can help create more wealth across communities of color and gender.
09:30 - The journey to VC and what exploring that world looked like for Lindsay.
10:00 - Entrepreneurship as a sport: who are players, rule-makers and play callers.
11:45 - Taking the long view on cultivating good investments and finding the right people.
12:20 - Starting his own thing in VC, differentiating himself and dealing with uncertainty
14:27 - What immersion in VC is like, navigating changing landscapes
15:15 - If you’re looking for a challenge, investing is a good field; things not going to plan.
15:45 - Why you need to find A+ people.
17:20 - Staying humble and grounded in VC
18:14 - What creates success in entrepreneurial endeavors
19:30 - Why Authentic Ventures has a culture of good energy
20:45 - Studying and data in VC, compounding experience and knowledge, the value of having a community
22:40 - Trying to find ideas and company with momentum
23:20 - No free lunch in investing? What does a margin of error mean in this VC world.
24:45 - Why VC firms learn about the founders, how to scrutinize the methodology
26:00 - If you’re an entrepreneur why you should get to know a VC fund outside of funding events.
27:00 - Being an early believer in trailblazers
28:00 - Authentic Ventures tries to win together, with the right people
29:25 - Lindsay talks about not starting out on First or Second Base and making an impact that helps his community.
30:35 - Having something to prove as an analyst at investment banks
31:45 - The best lesson to learn as an investor, understanding the people, connecting with people that share your values.
33:30 - Why there’s no substitute for excellence or hard work.
37:23 - Staying power and determination: “Get your money right.”
38:30 - Staying in touch with Lindsay Lee and Authentic Ventures
Stay connected with Lindsay Lee by checking out Authentic Ventures
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