Sep 21 • 42M

Discovering talent before it's obvious, the challenges of raising a fund I without a traditional pedigree, and startup fund culture with Eric Tarczynski of Contrary

Episode 91

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Appears in this episode

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.
Episode details

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 joined by Eric Tarczynski, Founder and Managing Partner of Contrary, a firm backed by founders of Tesla, Reddit, Facebook, Airbnb, and many more iconic companies. The firm acts as a full stack platform to identify and support entrepreneurs often before they are starting a company. Contrary has raised nearly $100MM across funds.

In our discussion Eric and I covered their thesis on talent, how he was able to raise a first fund without the normal background LPs often look for, and how they use culture to attract top talent. 

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About Eric Tarczynski:
Eric Tarcynski is the Founder and Managing Partner of Contrary, a venture fund that identifies and invests in the world’s top talent. He took on $50,000 in debt to get Contrary off the ground, sleeping in the back seat of a rental car or on friends' couches. Prior to Contrary, Eric was a co-founder and operator at numerous startups. He got his undergrad degree at Northeastern.

In this episode we discuss:

01:11 Eric’s journey to tech and startups
04:42 How Eric’s non-traditional background affected his first fundraise
08:27 What happened in the two years between Fund I and Fund II that got his from a sub-$10MM fund to a $75MM fund
11:09 Concrete factors that LPs weighed when investing in Contrary
14:01 Why Contrary avoided “logo hunting”
16:11 Contrary’s unique thesis and why their model is the endgame for going earlier in the investing process
19:00 Why Contrary has such a high NPS
21:09 How Contrary invests in individuals “pre-company”
24:10 The software platform that Contrary is building to help identify founders
26:44 Building a platform without a lot of carry
28:46 What Eric’s schedule looks like as an emerging manager
30:57 Aspects of VC that Eric underestimated
34:04 The advice he would give himself five years ago
35:36 Would he have done anything differently?
36:36 Why you do need some name brand consensus investments
37:35 The best advice he gives to emerging managers
39:48 The importance of persistence as a competitive advantage

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