Preferred Return Podcast

The Ever Churning World of Product Management


We are ecstatic to sit down with Renee Niemi and Iris Chan from Mighty Capital, a VC firm that gives its portfolio companies exclusive access to >300,000 PMs and a playbook to turn them into customers. Airbnb, Amplitude, and BlueCedar are among some of their highly curated portfolio companies.

In this episode, we discuss the ever churning world of product management in the digital age. You will soon see that strategy is wonderful, but it ultimately comes down to implementation.


[00:00:00] Jeff Williams: Tell me a little bit about Mighty Capital and you all, and I will take it from there.

[00:00:07] Iris Chan: Okay. Mighty Capital’s been around for four years and prior to Mighty Capital, the founder SC Moatti actually was the managing director of the Angel forum.

[00:00:21] So the Angel forum was around Silicon Valley for over 21 years. And because the previous managing partner desired to retire, then I think she stepped up and took over. However, the business model has changed. Our investment thesis has been updated and upgraded to today’s investment environment.

[00:00:49] And also especially with the technology digitized transformation accelerated by this pandemic. I think we look forward to sharing what our investment thesis is because I think it is important relative to the entrepreneur, as well as the VC community.

[00:01:10] Renée Niemi: I think what really makes Mighty Capital unique is the relationship with a forum called Products That Count and Products the Count was also founded by SC. She’s a former entrepreneur, the company was acquired by Facebook and then Facebook ended up she ran product for years there.

[00:01:34] And then when she left, she was asked to write a book. And what she realized was there wasn’t a really great place for product leaders to come to compare notes and to grow their trade. And so she ended up through, you know, a series of course, of years ended up developing Products That Count.

[00:01:55] And ironically you know, she was running, Angel Forums at the same time, but what’s really unique is that we leverage our knowledge, our connection with the product community, and it’s really core to our thesis. Which is, you know, ultimately the best product wins.

[00:02:14] And and we often are able to use the Products That Count community to help accelerate growth for portfolio companies. And you know, we have also been able to use our relationships with is over 300,000 product managers and product leaders in this community. So it’s massive. And so we’re able to leverage those relationships even in exits.

[00:02:35] Jeff Williams: Yeah.

[00:02:35] Renée Niemi: So I really think as we start really showing the acceleration and the thesis is really proving out that in fact especially in this digital age, that the connection back to product matters.

[00:02:49] Jeff Williams: A hundred percent. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

[00:02:53] A little bit about my background. I started my career at Greenspring Associates, which is a Venture Capital Fund of Funds. And started out as a young investment analyst who ended up, taking over some of our internal technology and over the course of about five years, had some direct investments and was a board observer and what have you.

[00:03:12] And then I was sort of like, wow, there’s an opportunity for technology to change what’s going on in this market. And that became really interesting. The thought of building a company. And so for the most part over the course of 10 years or so, since I left, led product efforts here at Altvia, and really around one kind of key thesis, by the way, in 10 years of being a product leader and a product manager, all that you realize is that there are just not enough resources and community, right?

[00:03:44] Because I think everybody thinks the same way. It’s not as if it’s a discipline that isn’t well understood, but I think that there are still a lot of political conflicts that product folks end up in. And my experience has largely been a situation where you can feel where I think product leaders,

[00:04:10] I hate using all, but for the most part, feel as though, there’s not good understanding inside of their organization of what’s going on. And so there’s a lot of help to be had, in terms of navigating those dynamics and, sharing thoughts with other leaders. So that’s great.

[00:04:27] Renée Niemi: Yeah. I was just gonna say, I grew up in product myself, and this is why I connected with Mighty Capital because I just fundamentally agree with the thesis. It’s starting to change a little bit, but there really isn’t a school for product management, and so most product leaders, and let’s just call it entrepreneurs, most of them are product leaders.

[00:04:49] They start as a product leader and then expand. There really isn’t a great place to go, to stay on top of the ever-churning world of product management. The best practice changes literally almost daily. So yeah, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

[00:05:12] Jeff Williams: It’s almost more of an art and a science too, and that doesn’t help with these complicated dynamics. It’s constantly changing and moves quickly. There are arts, but on top of that, it’s hard to pin down exactly what the right stuff is. Super interesting.

[00:05:30] So is my understanding correct then that Mighty Capital ended up coming out of the Angel Forum. Is that right? Did I understand that correctly?

[00:05:37] Iris Chan: Well, yes and no, because I think a few partners from Angel Forum migrated to Mighty Capital. And then the business models change despite the investment thesis changes as well.

[00:05:55] Because I think, you know, you guys, with the product backgrounds, thinking that there’s no school for product management. Frankly today there’s no school for anything because it changes is part of normal life. So actually, if you look we not only focus on products, right. But we also changed the dynamic, how we build the ecosystem within the investment community, as you know, this is very broad and with my background, I am always in the capital space.

[00:06:32] Whether it’s debt or a capital market, you always look at that as an investment. So as an investor, you wanted to get a return. And how do you get the best return and how do you build that trust with the entrepreneur that you invest in and build out that ecosystem, where is a good fit? Not anybody that comes along would be a good fit.

[00:07:02] So we’re very selective and very disciplined in terms of how we source the opportunities, how we make our decision, and how we make the investment. Especially if you look at today, we have 300,000 product managers globally and spread over seven or nine countries. So that’s really dynamic, right? So you look at the geographic cultural differences that also influenced how the product comes out and how the business model is designed.

[00:07:40] And today because of the digital acceleration. We see a lot more opportunities. And then that comes with challenges, right? Because of high valuation, how do you select the right opportunities to write on different products? Those are all the issues facing us day-to-day, but not only just at the point of making that investment decision.

[00:08:06] Jeff Williams: Yeah. I’m curious to talk a little bit about your internal use of technology as well. What I’m gathering here is product, product, product, and I love that. Not enough people in my opinion are product-focused. How does the culture of that investment mindset go?

[00:08:32] How does it permeate through the culture? You guys must use a number of different technology products, must be very technology-focused. Tell me a little bit about the culture internally in terms of your own investment management operation.

[00:08:46] Renée Niemi: Well, I’m happy to jump in because we do believe fundamentally the best product wins. You know, we’re an early growth stage investment firm. So we, look at more than just great potential. We actually look at a great product that actually has traction, early traction in the market.

[00:09:06] And that by applying you know, our skills as a firm which include, by the way, very diverse LPs. SC has put together a really amazing group of LPs that come from, you know, some of the best and the brightest in Silicon Valley. You know and can really help with these firms. This isn’t just, you know, a cool, sexy product, let’s go invest. 

[00:09:29] This is a good product with proof of product-market fit, with leaders that are either proven and or are starting to prove the repeatability of their business. So the recipe is actually fairly structured and frankly, we probably say no to some opportunities that get filtered out.

[00:09:51] But because of the way that we have set this up, our returns are actually quite a bit better than, the average from at this stage.

[00:10:00] Jeff Williams: Yeah. What’s going on out there? What sort of stuff are you seeing through this lens of product managers in the network?

[00:10:08] What are hot areas? What are interesting areas? Some people take this approach of, okay, we’re going to start with a sector and thematically work through it, for that and buying good companies with good products and good product leadership.

[00:10:26] Love what I think is the alternative, which is let’s find the best products and the best product leaders and use the network. Where are you finding that is going on today?

[00:10:40] Iris Chan: Well, let me take a stab at that question, because if you look at actually with a partner’s background and we’ve been together under Mighty Capital for four years, and prior to that, actually if you add up all the experience we are probably way over 50 years in this space. So in terms of what industry that we focus on, I don’t think that really matters.

[00:11:07] Because our thesis is picking the best products, having the best adoption, have a sizeable market that will support the level of growth. So to begin, we’re a pre-investing, pre-profit company, meaning the entrepreneur is at the beginning stage of go-to-market.

[00:11:30] And we financed that period of accelerated growth until they hopefully get to the mature level and come up with an exit strategy. So today, because the acceleration, if you look at AI is important, data management has become enormously incredible, because without data, you cannot really drive your AI and why data management is important because I know many, many, many years ago I used to launch this thesis about database-driven marketing. 

[00:12:04] But in those days, actually impossible because the MIS system is so poor. Data is not, well-managed, structured data is all out of the kilter. So today data management has become so much more efficient and so much more manageable.

[00:12:30] And how do you leverage that? And then that comes with cybersecurity issues, right? And then you’ll have the mobile space, the customer contact. So from your business model to the customer interaction, in between you go through all the steps to build out your business model, that is right for the product.

[00:12:55] This is the space that we are interested in. We just have just been wanting to pick the best of all.

[00:13:02] Renée Niemi: Yeah. You know, let me, let me just layer something on top of this that will help put a box around it. So we specialize in B2B, SaaS, that’s kinda our sweet spot. We also have been looking at you know, the health sciences area, but, our sweet spot, even in life sciences is around tech enablement where you can layer some of these new technologies, whether they be, you know, big data AI to improve outcomes and healthcare or AI and big data to help improve B2B businesses or B2B to C. Beyond that, we look at trends that are going on in those respective spaces.

[00:13:42] And then we do a thesis, and that was really what Iris was walking you through. But we switch up the thesis pretty regularly. So we’re not narrowly focused. We’re more broadly focused in the areas of the life sciences in the B2B.

[00:13:57] Jeff Williams: I have a couple of quotes here that I love. Or at least sort of phrases, I’ll say, right. “In investing the best product plans, product strategy is not just the strategy. It is a competitive advantage.” Tell us more about that. This is definitely a different story and I love it. I happen to believe that… and we’ve said this on the podcast before,

[00:14:21] But what really makes investors different, I think having come from the LP side of the universe, it’s not as much as, all of those GPs want to be differentiated. We’ve been together for 15 years or something. And what I really liked to see is the evolution now of very differentiated strategies.

[00:14:47] It’s very clear, just in speaking with you all for a few minutes, and your website talks about it. This is sort of ethos it seems, for the firm, right? You’ve mentioned it once before, those phrases are pretty straightforward at the surface. Tell us what they really mean to you all. 

[00:15:03] Renée Niemi: You want me to take the first stab Iris, and then you can…

[00:15:07] Iris Chan: Yes, go ahead. I actually have my own little rules to share.

[00:15:13] Renée Niemi: You know, our belief, honestly, in the digital world, is that what you can do with technology is evolving massively, and it’s pretty easy these days to create a product, frankly. And what’s not easy is to create a unique product that gains adoption quickly, and there are certain recipes required to make that happen in the phases of growth.

[00:15:46] And I think really where Mighty Capital with the help of Products That Count, frankly, has really found a sweet spot in finding these companies that are showing the early traction and then applying our knowledge as both an LP community, as well as the product management community at Products That Count we’re able to help like really, almost light these afterburners on to these product teams.

[00:16:13] Some of the examples of some of the companies that have been able to help that digital ocean, amplitude, these are some really you know, very high growth of successful B2B SaaS companies that have been really able to leverage. I think the other thing is a differentiator for us is the fact that because we’ve got this accelerator, we get into some deals,

[00:16:41] That you know, are usually only reserved for really, really big checks or really, really big firms. And we’ve had several recently actually just set aside you know, a part of their fund, specifically to actually bring us on board because of the value layer that we’re adding. You know, and I’m just going to give one example and hand it over to Iris who has her own, but, and this may be overused, but coming into the pandemic, there were a lot of videos players, okay.

[00:17:16] And some really, really big players, including, you know, Google and Microsoft with the old Skype, I mean, players that have been around for years and years and years pushing video. But they weren’t the winners. The winner was this small little company, no longer small, no longer little, called Zoom, which, by the way, had this phenomenal product that not only was super easy to use for the consumer, as well as the business but scaled.

[00:17:46] Right. Everybody got. Absolutely underestimates, in my opinion, what it took for them to go from, and I’m going to get the numbers wrong. But on the scale, let’s say, you know, one, 1 million active users a day to literally hundreds of millions of active users a day. And they didn’t even hiccup or if they hiccuped like we didn’t really even notice it.

[00:18:12] And that’s just an example of a product that won, right? And beat out some huge, huge players you know, their time had come.

[00:18:23] Jeff Williams: It’s still amazing. I don’t know whether these other competitors to Zoom have conceded it to some extent, but I totally hear you and agree.

[00:18:33] I mean, the clunkiness of what had been a category. And for it to just be that effortless and I happened to think, we were Zoom users going back 10 years or so, mostly because it was affordable and lightweight and it was in hindsight, the dynamics that hurt you in this type of situation for being the product that wins in a pandemic.

[00:18:56] But yeah, no. Great example. Go ahead, Iris.

[00:18:58] Iris Chan: Well, I think today if you look at this space is all about investing in technology and life science, right? These are the two critical areas that touch every human’s daily life. Because right now, who can’t work or live or play without tech, not touching technology number one, and today everybody needs healthcare.

[00:19:24] So if you narrow it down to these two spaces, we’re obviously not investing in bricks and mortar, right, because I look at that as an unproductive use of capital investment for Mighty Capital. And at the end of the day, you combine that with the entrepreneur that you select is all about implementation.

[00:19:49] Right? Strategy is wonderful. I look as strategy is beautiful, either a sentence, a piece of paper, or a theory. However, if the entrepreneur can not execute, nothing really matters. So that leadership quality is so important. So when I ran the commercial banking group at the bank, I used to give people eight simple rules, and you do have to have these eight simple rules in order to see a successful company. 

[00:20:19] And not only just the product itself, but you also have to know your business. Obviously, you gotta know your product. You should know your market should know your competitors. You should know your numbers, know your people, and obviously, you have to know your customers.

[00:20:42] Those can be tested, but however, depending upon the stage of the product, the leadership quality comes into play because there are many companies that we thought were not going to make it, even though it’s good at the beginning. But management has leadership to pivot to drive it, to meet the market needs.

[00:21:06] So it’s constantly changing and technology is forever a work in process. There is no such thing as a finished product in technologies. So you gotta be very close to every day of what you’re doing and what you’re executing. Your strategy will have to change, but you have to stay the course.

[00:21:29] Jeff Williams: Yeah, love that.

[00:21:30] I want to go back to one thing. I think that you had used the words, afterburners to accelerate, help me understand. And I guess if we start end-to-end, say you all are looking to invest in companies with products that win and the best products. To that point, Iris, a good product is a good product, right up until the point, which it might not be.

[00:21:55] And that might not necessarily be the product’s fault, right? It could be the sort of market dynamics, and that’s where leadership is key. And one way or the other good product or good product that is shifting, it sounds to me with the afterburners comment. Really what kinda makes you guys different is your ability to bring in leadership and expertise and what have you, so help me understand how much of your investment strategy is upfront and really understanding the products and perhaps even the leadership, versus bringing the expertise post-investment. 

[00:22:30] Certainly there’s a mix, help me understand what that looks like on a typical investment.

[00:22:35] Iris Chan: I think one of the attributes that partners that Mighty Capital contribute, including the limited partners, is because all of them, as Renee mentioned earlier has specific expertise.

[00:22:51] Right? So with that, we actually either help guide them, help mentor them, help strategize with them, and help them to pivot because I’ll give you one example. Actually, I had a stint as a COO of a telehealth company. I remember five years ago, even six years ago, when we started to build this company, the technology is wonderful compared to the EMR that Epic put together.

[00:23:22] It was very onerous the EMR that the company built was tremendous, very easy to use the doctors were not frustrated. You can get the patients to log on and the EMR record, download it. However, at that time it was no pandemic, right? People are still so used to seeing doctors. Today it took off.

[00:23:50] Not only do the patients want it, but doctors also want it. And it’s probably a government mandate that you have no personal contact. You have to social distance, so on and so forth. So that’s what I’m saying, that, you know, you have a good product that is really the beginning of the journey, but you also have to gauge what is going on in the market.

[00:24:14] What is going on in the industry trends? What is going on? And this comes in the vision. What do you think that this business can become? At the time when we built that company, we want it to be the world’s best medical service that is offered to every corner of the world, here it is the pandemic to help us to get there.

[00:24:39] Right. We just so happened to touch on this. If anything, that damaged brain style, this, the value is forcing all the entrepreneurs to even think harder, how to make technology really, really work for everybody.

[00:24:57] Jeff Williams: Yeah, no, it’s fascinating. I have my own experience. It happens with telehealth during the pandemic and not because of COVID, it wasn’t a situation where I ended up using it.

[00:25:08] So the story is I used a telehealth service for the first time in my life, and it had nothing to do with COVID. It was what I thought to be a sinus infection. And to that point, Iris, I mean the being a good product, I love that phrase, right. That’s really just the beginning. And now you have to really understand where the dynamic of the market is taking you.

[00:25:33] And I think that it just has to be a little bit of luck, along with all of these other things, right?

[00:25:38] In my case, somebody suggested that I try the telehealth service, which in my experience was outstanding.

[00:25:48] But if I recall correctly they had just had their first experience with telehealth as the result of the dynamics in the world that we’re living, as the result of a pandemic. And so it was really quite fascinating. That’s when there can be a number of great products, but how well equipped are they to deliver an outstanding experience, that’s going to be within the dynamic.

[00:26:13] Of the market that they’re playing in creating something that will create opportunity for that product or for that company that offers it.

[00:26:21] Iris Chan: But you know, back to Mighty Capital’s thesis, because we invest in the sort of the early growth phase. So at that time, we really need to focus on the product, right?

[00:26:37] Because without the credibility, that product has the potential adoption and fuel the market or build a new market. We can not judge anything else. Despite the fact that you can talk with everybody and do all kinds of due diligence, do all kinds of market research. But if you have a crappy product, it doesn’t go anywhere.

[00:27:03] Not only, did you waste more time trying to correct and go forward and then move back three steps. So that’s really why we have that focus in the early growth phase. And then the other factors, because we can combine that with the partner expertise, we either mentor, guide, or help. And on top of that the capital is also one of the elements, right?

[00:27:35] And without capital, the entrepreneur can not go through all the growth phases.

[00:27:40] Renée Niemi: Yeah. I’d love to add something to your original question, which is, you know, are we better before or after and where is our expertise relative to the investment and, I’m going to go ahead and say that we actually use our expertise to make the right investments because we’ve curated just the right partnership collective if you will.

[00:28:02] To have a lens, not only into the product but into teams and into the right value for the business value, the marketing go-to-market value, ecosystem I think is what Iris said. So we use the partner collective in particular, in that kind of front-end investment decision.

[00:28:26] And then what we do is once the company is on board and by the way, as part of that selection criteria is fit with, we say fit with Mighty Capital, but it’s really a code for fit with Products That Count, like can we leverage this amazing community to help accelerate the growth of this company? And so once we’ve made the decision to invest, then we get them connected with the Products That Count community.

[00:28:54] And we can help them with the growth phase, and that has just a whole different series of things that we can do for them. So anyway, so this is a whole list of things that we can do to help.

[00:29:05] If they’re actually selling through product management, which often our portfolio companies are, now we can help them with visibility. We can help them when it’s time for exit. We, we can make that connection with the right potential acquiring companies, and we have done that on several occasions. So it’s both.

[00:29:25] Iris Chan: Jeff, I just want to add one more point. Many entrepreneurs seek us out because of our affiliation with Products That Count because they know how valuable that is. So you’re talking about access to product expertise. You also talk about, how this is a very important question because today, top talent is few and far in between.

[00:29:51] That is really hard to find. So accessing Products That Count will also help them to recruit talents. Right. And then also use it as a sounding board to really bounce off how the reaction, either from the market or from the user, what the product that they put together is all about. And then of course the rest was just like Renee said that, right?

[00:30:22] That is the second phase of all that they can really leverage off of and help them to get to hopefully the exit stage.

[00:30:32] Jeff Williams: Yeah. So many thoughts. This is a very cool strategy. I think about going back to my early days at Greenspring, and there, our strategy was to co-invest in late-stage growth rounds alongside the GPs that we committed to.

[00:30:50] And we had our own strategy to try to identify those within the portfolio. But for the most part, it wasn’t necessarily a series A-type or even a seed-type transaction. We’re talking a couple of rounds later. And so there was already traction. Ao our diligence, we leveraged a lot of what our trusted GPs had already done to co-invest with them.

[00:31:14] But for the most part, it was the product management that made sense to me because in many ways that was a lot of the exercises we were going through at the stages. How big is this market? How does the company serve it? Where are there opportunities? In terms of pure scale, maybe there are opportunities to buy, build, partner.

[00:31:34] However you want to go about that. Doing some channel checks and things like that, it’s a fascinating strategy because it sets up in my opinion, very well with investment due diligence. So to have all of these product-minded folks, actually doing that diligence with the experience that you do, the combination compounds a little bit in terms of identifying the targets.

[00:32:01] And to the point we’ve been talking about continuing to add value, leveraging the network that continues to bring that expertise. So what a fascinating concept. I love it. Now here’s what I’m curious about.

[00:32:13] Having been an LP and doing diligence, for the most part in a simple way, the goal of LPs in my experience is to figure out, okay, the track record is good. Let’s really figure out how you’re generating the value. Is it one person? Is it the team? Is it a certain type of company?

[00:32:34] What have you… And then double-click on those things. Then the next step for us is, okay, well now we want to validate that there’s more of that, and we can continue to do that. This is that type of story I happen to love because there’s a lot there to go through.

[00:32:52] So ultimately the question that I have is, the website content here makes a ton of sense. How is it that LPs get into that? Do you guys keep different metrics, maybe that the other GPs don’t? It could be how many Products That Counts companies or even the professional help you bring into the company.

[00:33:18] What is it? Do you have this data set that you provide to LPs that you’re like, here’s the fire, right? Here’s the data that shows this story. It must be really fascinating to dig through that. And I’m not asking you to dig through that for the listeners here, but it must be the story that you can clearly tell with some data to validate and back it up.

[00:33:41] Talk a little bit about that. What was it like for an LP to come through and do diligence on you? What do you return them with, in terms of showing them how you’ve done it for your portfolio?

[00:33:53] Iris Chan: Well, I guess you’re talking about the track record of Mighty Capital, right? So right now we only have four years of history, but then I think one of the track records that we’re very proud of is we, I think for the last couple of years we have one IPO per quarter. That’s actually very impressive, right? You look at one IPO per quarter for a Mighty Capital size of capital.

[00:34:29] That’s not too shabby. On the other hand, because we have only been operating for about four years and then the first year, really more in the fine-tuning, the business model and our investment thesis. So you’re really talking about the last two years of our track record because by the time we hit the third year, we are sort of on the maturing stage.

[00:34:55] We’re far from being mature. We have many, many more funds to come. So I think if you calculate the return, depending upon what methodology that you want to use, coupled with the fact that what is remaining in the portfolio. That’s still a very impressive number on the top of my head I don’t have that percentage for you.

[00:35:22] But I know that we produce one IPO per quarter, and that is a record by itself. And today I’m very confident to say that we already exited a fund one. This only started about four years ago and finished raising in 90 days and fund one is done. And now we’re in fund two.

[00:35:51] And we’re getting ready to do fund three. And our fundraising record is also the following fund is always double the size of the previous fund. So we’re intended to double the size of fund two as well for the next round. And we are actually in the preparation of doing that.

[00:36:16] I don’t want to speak for SC, but I’m just saying that these are the numbers that we can lean on.

[00:36:26] Jeff Williams: Yeah, for sure. And I noticed just in looking at the website too, it’s with amplitude 29% shorter sales cycle, I mean that’s good product mindset, good product leadership, good product experience, all those things.

[00:36:41] Iris Chan: That actually sources from Products That Count. Because the entrepreneur belongs to Products That Count. We also invested in Airbnb, so.

[00:36:51] Jeff Williams: Yeah. Saw that. So the network must be interesting.

[00:36:57] To your point, Iris, it’s still early days for the firm, but certainly, I talk about this occasionally, but all of the exhaust that’s being created in data. It’s sort of like, well we connected from the Products That Count network, and we put some people in here.

[00:37:19] That stuff is just exhaust perhaps at this point, right? But at some point and probably already, but must be fascinating to start to look at what some of the data tells you.

[00:37:31] Iris Chan: But one thing I also want to mention is that all the investment we have made so far, the entrepreneur and together with their leadership team, are immediately wanting access to Products That Count.

[00:37:48] Where did they come up with a strategy, and ask Products That Count to validate or help to get their input or look at the product specifications. We are very systematically helping them and connecting them with the product managers at Products That Count. Keep in mind that the people belong to Products That Count.

[00:38:15] They all are experienced product managers. So they see much more beyond just what the entrepreneur, seeing their products plays in the marketplace. So that feedback is invaluable to them because like I said, technology is always a work in process. What do they need to pivot? What did it need to modify?

[00:38:41] They rebuild a business model. It is very important.

[00:38:46] Jeff Williams: Yeah. So raising your third fund. Congratulations. Are you able to give us a sense of how big you’re targeting?

[00:38:55] Iris Chan: You know, all I can say is we’re doubling the size of the second fund.

[00:39:01] And the second fund was oversubscribed. The first fund was oversubscribed, and then the second fund was oversubscribed. And then to SC’s credibility, for the first fund, as you know, it was her first fund, and lots of times you do have some skepticism and she was able to raise that in less than 90 days and oversubscribed.

[00:39:28] And the attributes to her, is if you look at I helped interview her when she became the managing director of the Angel Forum. And she gave me this book, Products That Count, it is a very easy book for person a non-product person like myself. I totally understand.

[00:39:51] So to her attribute, that was very impressive. And so what I’m saying is her credibility proceeded herself, and how she focuses on why the best product wins, that investment thesis formulates a foundation, how we continue to build Mighty Capital.

[00:40:15] I won’t say that five years from now, we won’t pivot to another dynamic strategy, given what is going on in the tech world. So all I’m saying is the credibility of her and her leadership together with the partners, attributes really are very important. Those are intangible values that we should incorporate here.

[00:40:43] And you look at Renee, she was the first Chief Product Officer of a major company. She was the first.

[00:40:55] Renée Niemi: There is no proof that I was the first. 

[00:41:00] Jeff Williams: You’re an outstanding product leader and everybody knows it. And well, I happen to share this belief, and it’s been fun to talk through the belief that this is so important that you can find the best companies this way.

[00:41:21] That last point, Iris, is interesting. The world is dynamic, right? Products are dynamic, the companies and the markets they operate in, even just this mindset of product-minded folks and product strategies and things like that. Are in my experience, some of the folks that are the quickest to you embrace that, acknowledge it, and do something about it, and know what to do as the result of it and go out and find a new problem to solve, or what have you. So the whole integrity of the model and the ethos is a fascinating one to invest against. And it sounds like you guys are doing well at it.

[00:42:04] So congratulations, it’s really cool to see. Well, closing thought. What’s going on in the world? What are you most excited about? Pretty loose, but give us a parting thought. This is an amazing story, and I’m glad that we get to hear about it, but tell us something in parting that is on your mind now.

[00:42:26] Renée Niemi: Well, I’ll kick it off for you, how’s that? Being a product person as we’ve well established, I’m going to start with what I’m seeing that’s exciting, and then potentially a little bump in the road that I see that we’re going to have to navigate. What I’m seeing is, and this is not surprising, but the pandemic has really accelerated digital transformation, which was well on its way.

[00:42:55] But what is really exciting is you know, even though big data, AI, those are all really big buzzwords, but the actual practical application to accelerate business growth is starting to happen. And, you know, the one that I’m personally the most excited about, and that we’re starting to see a lot of deal flow come through, is in the area of improving cybersecurity.

[00:43:22] We’re seeing a lot in the area of categorizing it as next-generation healthcare. Where we’re able to use this whole digital future, married with analytics to have a much more effective healthcare system with much better outcomes in the future. And these are all happy side effects, frankly of acceleration as a result of the pandemic. 

[00:43:42] We hope we don’t have another pandemic anytime soon. So I’m not suggesting this as any kind of permanent fuel for acceleration, but let’s take advantage of the good aspects. I think the unintended consequences are the soft side.

[00:44:03] We’re calling it, instead of the great recession or the great depression, we’re seeing the great resignation. And this is happening across the board. I think we’re all probably feeling it in our day-to-day lives with just you know, service levels that some of the places that we are used to getting high service levels whether it be your favorite restaurant. But this is different.

[00:44:27] The great resignation is really all around very seasoned executives who are rethinking their world either because the pandemic, gave them time to think, or because the pandemic gave them separation from the day-to-day hassle of commuting and running from meeting to meeting, and realizing they kind of like that quality of life.

[00:44:54] And so they are rethinking it. I had breakfast today, ironically, with a former executive at Google. Who honestly, I thought was going to retire from Google. He’s still quite early in his career as Googlers are, but has resigned from Google because he says, you know what? This just made me realize that I have a limited amount of time on this earth.

[00:45:21] So I think this massive shift in mindset can either really be a challenge for startups or could be an opportunity. It’s a bit of a question mark, but I think it’s just definitely something we should keep our eye out and track.

[00:45:38] Jeff Williams: Yeah, that’s a good point. And typically there’s opportunity in anything, even as challenging as a totally different question that presents challenges for some companies. I think that’s a great point. Thanks for pointing that out. How about you Iris?

[00:45:53] Iris Chan: Well, let me add a more positive spend.

[00:45:56] I’ve been dealing in the technology world for over 30 years, right? The banking and the capital market side. And from the days that people resisted even doing a little banking online, we have to bribe people to do that, asking for allocation of why I want to invest in technology on behalf of the banks, to today, the digital acceleration. And I myself actually sit on various investment committees and oversee how the investment dynamics trend. One thing I will say is that from people looking at venture capital, investing in a startup as a sideline to today, mainstream, investing in technology and venture capital and startup funds, right?

[00:46:46] There are various forms. So why is this becoming mainstream? Just last week, we were trying to calculate a desire you returned, and where are you getting the overall yield to complement the more established investment, it is from the riskier space, such as VC, PE, so on and so forth.

[00:47:14] So I can be very proud of saying, after all these years, I finally see that this is a main state in the investment thesis, and no money manager can manage the yield that they look at better perform than others without investing in riskier asset classes, such as the venture capital class.

[00:47:45] So I wanted to close out by saying that because this is a very important asset class for all the investors to consider. If they really want to get to the yield that they desire.

[00:48:00] Jeff Williams: Yeah. It is interesting to watch that transformation and my goodness, the opportunity that comes from riskier funds.

[00:48:08] Iris Chan: You got to take risks. Without risk, no risk, no gain.

[00:48:13] Jeff Williams: Yep. Well, listen, fascinating conversation. Thank you so much. I love what you all are doing and I wish you the best of luck. Which it sounds like you don’t really need it, but hope you take it anyway. And thank you so much for joining us.

[00:48:26] Iris Chan: Thank you, Jeff. This was a very good conversation.

[00:48:30] Renée Niemi: Thank you so much for having us. We really appreciate it.

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