Aug 24, 2021 • 47M

From Norwest to starting Roble Ventures, Sergio Monsalve on equity and diversity in tech, adapting from large VC to a small, solo-GP, and investing in heated markets.

Episode 049

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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.

Today’s episode is with Sergio Monsalve, founding partner of Roble Ventures, a seed firm based in Silicon Valley that invests in solutions that help human progress. Their portfolio includes Kahoot, Mosaic, and Dragonboat, among others. 

Prior to Roble, Sergio spent 14 years at one of the longest standing VC firms in the world, Norwest Venture Partners, where he led investments in companies such as Udemy and Adaptive Insights. Before he started his investing career, he held various roles in high-growth technology companies like eBay and Portal Software. He currently teaches at his alma mater, Stanford, on education and entrepreneurship. 

We chatted with Sergio about equity and diversity in the VC world, adapting to a smaller GP model after so much time at a large partnership, and how he thinks about investing in human enablement technologies.

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In this episode we discuss:

02:19 Why Sergio decided to get into venture and the unique challenges he faced

04:47 Sergio’s departure from a large shop in Norwest to starting Roble

07:45 Transitioning from a partnership-driven ethos to being a single operator

10:23 The meaning of ‘human-enablement’ investing

13:27 Post-pandemic predictions

16:46 Why you must bring diversity on a team

20:31 Diversifying the decision making process and identifying implicit bias

24:44 Investing in highly competitive markets with discipline

28:19 Sergio’s parameters for investing

32:01 Capitalizing founders in the appropriate way in today’s market

36:19 What did Roble Ventures look to accomplish in the early days

39:58 The most counterintuitive thing Sergio ever learnt

41:27 Dominant trends coming up in venture

43:22 Investors he is inspired by

Mentioned in this episode

Roble Ventures

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