Oct 5 • 55M

Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures on angel to 9 time Midas list investor, inception to scale at Felicis, and winning in today's crowded market

Episode 94

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Samir Kaji
Venture Unlocked is the playbook for starting, operating, & scaling a successful venture capital firm. Samir Kaji, Host of Venture Unlocked has +20-years of experience assisting & advising startups and venture firms. Listen for VC fund guidance.
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Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

This week we are excited to have Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, which since its founding in 2005 has become of the most successful early-stage funds in the world, having invested in companies such as Shopify, Canva, Opendoor, Guild, Flexport, Notion, and Plaid,  The Felicis portfolio has 45 Unicorns since it started in 2006 and Aydin is a 9-time Forbes Midas list investor. 

Outside of the outstanding track record, Aydin brings such an interesting point of view on venture investing. We went deep on the history of Felicis, his investment philosophy, and his overall perspectives on running a venture firm


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About Aydin Senkut:
Aydin Senkut is the Founder and Managing Partner of Felicis. An original super angel turned multi-stage investor, he has been named on the Forbes Midas List for the past nine years (2014-2022) as well as the New York Times Top 20 Venture Capitalists list for four consecutive years (2016-2019). His recent focus areas include infrastructure, security, and future of health.

He is well-known as an early backer of a number of iconic companies including Adyen, Credit Karma (Acquired by Intuit), Fitbit, Guardant Health, Guideline, Notion, Opendoor, Pluralsight, Rovio, Shopify, and Soundhound.

Prior to starting Felicis, Aydin joined Google in 1999 as its first Product Manager to launch Google’s first 10 international sites, its first online search licensing products, and its first Safe Search. He then became the first International Sales Manager at Google, responsible for worldwide licensing deals. Before joining Google, Aydin was the Product Manager for Data Visualization and Data Mining software MineSet at SGI.

He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with Honors from Boston University. He also earned an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School and a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

In this episode we discuss:

02:12 What led to starting Felicis
05:52 Why he decided to start something new instead of staying with Google
08:40 Moving from angel to “super angel”
12:19 The first fund raise
16:10 Takeaways from early rejections and how he kept refining his pitch
20:09 What was Aydin’s initial vision and how it has evolved over the years
24:59 Teambuilding and early hires at Felicis
29:02 How Felicis wins competitive deals through strategy
35:11 When to bend a rule when it comes to unorthodox investments
39:13 Commonalities of founders who create outlier opportunities
42:24 How to be anti-fragile as an investor
46:40 Trends in today’s market that gets Aydin excited
50:16 The advice he would have given himself in 2005

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Aydin. Follow me @SamirKaji and give me your insights and questions with the hashtag #ventureunlocked. If you’d like to be considered as a guest or have someone you’d like to hear from (GP or LP), drop me a direct message on Twitter.

Podcast Production support provided by Agent Bee Agency