Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund - Venture Unlocked 026

Working with special interest strategic LP's, building companies that face regulatory hurdles, and LPAC's.


On this week’s show, we’re lucky to have on Clara Brenner, co-founder of the Urban Innovation Fund which provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs shaping the future of our cities.

Along with her co-founder Julie Lein, their story is very compelling, from how they raised their first fund (from primarily strategic investors and special interest investors) to how they help founders unlock large businesses by helping them navigate regulatory hurdles.

Prior to starting Urban Innovation Fund, Clara was the co-founder and CEO of TUMML, an accelerator and startup hub focused on urban technology which invested in Chariot which was acquired by Ford and Hitch, which was acquired by Lyft.  In 2014, Forbes listed Clara as one of its “30 Under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship and her urban entrepreneurship work has been featured on MSNBC and TechCrunch. She serves on the Board of Tumml, as well as the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Bay Area Local Advisory Committee. Clara earned her MBA from MIT Sloan and BA from NYU.

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In this episode we discuss the following topics:

01:53    Clara’s journey into venture

05:15    On their thesis, and thoughts on impact funds

07:01    Why their first fundraise was so different than most first time managers

09:15    Finding “impact curious” aligned LPs who typically don’t target first funds

10:00    Building a great institutional foundation early

12:11    Ways to stay in front of LPs between raises.

14:22    The value they drive in helping founders navigate regulatory hurdles

18:17    Staying close and adding value, regardless of investment size.

20:20    Why keeping things simple on portfolio construction and terms are the right way to go.

22:17    LPACs and best practices

24:24     How the Urban Outcomes report has helped them evangelize their story

25:01    Providing peer networking opportunities for their LPs via their LPAC

27:26    How Julie and Clara’s unique talents complement each other 

30:19    Best career advice she’s received

32:10    Biggest pre-seed deal they missed and later invested in after a lot of work

34:08    The investor that has inspired her the most

Mentioned In This Episode:

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Clara. 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