Ann Lai, General Partner at Bullpen Capital, discusses her approach to venture capital and her commitment to investing in underrepresented founders and businesses. Here are some key points from the podcast:
Investing in Overlooked Categories: Bullpen Capital focuses on investing in categories and founders that are often overlooked. They seek out businesses that may be misunderstood but have strong performance metrics.
Supporting Underrepresented Founders: Lai is passionate about supporting underrepresented founders, including women in tech and diverse groups. She believes in diversifying the tech industry beyond the traditional white male representation.
Data-Driven Approach: With a background in data science and a PhD from Harvard, Lai emphasizes the importance of digging into the metrics of the companies they invest in. They focus on finding the right metrics and re-segmenting data to understand a company’s performance.
Pre-Consensus Companies: Lai coined the term “pre-consensus” for the type of companies Bullpen seeks. These are businesses that have the potential to succeed but are currently overlooked by the market.
CRM Approach: Bullpen’s approach to customer relationship management (CRM) is thorough. They cater their interactions with founders based on stage preference, category, past deals, and more.
Challenges in the Industry: Lai faced challenges and sexism while working at a previous firm. She resigned from Binary Capital due to the sexist treatment she witnessed and experienced. She emphasizes the importance of women VCs supporting each other in the industry.
Investing in Edgier Startups: Bullpen invests in startups in unconventional or “weird” industries, such as gambling and cannabis. Lai personally finds interest in hard-to-digitize sectors like SMBs, including lawn care, roofing, and interior design.