Sit Down With Venture Capital Rising Star Jenny Friedman
Analyzing a startup can be the hardest thing in the world to do. Estimating a future potential value on an idea can seem beyond daunting and close to impossible. To bat 1 for 10 in Silicon Valley will make you a legend, Jenny Friedman has already had a number of hits at an early age.
Jenny is a lifelong New Yorker, having gone to the prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx's tony Riverdale section. The same town where Archie comics are based. After attending the University of Pennsylvania, Jenny worked in the investment management division at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman Sachs, Jenny managed portfolios across all asset classes, but felt a calling from within to make portfolios of early stage tech companies. Jenny realized that she wanted to work on companies she was passionate about and do work that she could completely wrap her head around.
Upon leaving Goldman, Jenny decided to get an MBA from Columbia and it was there Jenny started realizing the power of her network in New York.
But, it was a fateful night a few years back, when Jenny decided to attend a UJA function that would change her life. The UJA, or United Jewish Appeal, is one of the largest Jewish charities in the world and has an especially strong presence in New York. It was there Jenny met her future partner and founder of Supernode, Laurel Touby.
Laurel is a brilliant mind who brought the world mediabistro.com, one of my personal favorite sites! In fact, after completing her sale, Laurel started investing in startups left and right and became a force in the industry. Respected for kindness as well as a sharp and keen mind, Laurel hosted “Secrets of Successful Startups“ on CBS Interactive.
We asked Jenny what excites her in the marketplace today and we received a lot of great feedback.
Automation & RPA are the two areas Jenny feels are the the most poised for growth and continued capital deployment form the VC world. Those are the areas most VC shops are trying to get money to work in. Expanding on that Jenny is very excited about data-driven and synthetic biology companies that will be able to create alternative foods at a much healthier level while allowing consumers to avoid meat.
The growth of Deep Fake technology troubles Jenny, she feels however that the positive for VC investors is the potential marketplace for investing in firms combating the Deep Fake technology.
Expanding on that, disinformation detection and mitigation will also be a field that sees a lot of attention and capital. Governments especially are keen to invest in this technology and are looking for answers from the private marketplace today.
Jenny's personal passion of the moment is LATAM. Jenny tells us "LATAM is projected to be the fastest-growing region in the world for the second year in a row; we believe there are massive investable tech opportunities and are very bullish on the region. I am super excited that our portfolio now has two investments in LATAM, both of which are real-estate and fintech related: Credijusto in Mexico and Habi in Bogota."
Jenny & her mother
We conclude our chat by asking what is the most challenging part of Jenny's job in VC? Jenny responds with:
"Starting a first fund is no different from starting an operating company in terms of the time commitment and dedication required. It always feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day and your to-do list never stops growing… Between my partner and me, we handle everything from always having our ears to the ground and meeting with/diligencing/investing in companies, to fundraising, hiring, helping our portfolio companies in any way we can, creating awareness for our fund and brand building by throwing events, writing thought pieces and content, participating in speaking engagements, and constantly networking, managing admin and correspondence with our investors, the list goes on… There’s always so much to do and you feel as though there’s always more to be done, so I’d say finding a balance that works for you as an investor is always somewhat of a challenge."