Aug 17, 2021 • 51M

Haystack's Semil Shah on building the firm from the ground up, portfolio models, and the state of VC today

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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.

Today’s episode is with Semil Shah, founder and general partner at Haystack, a pre-seed and seed-stage supporting outlier founders. Haystack’s portfolio includes DoorDash, Instacart, HashiCorp, Figma, Applied Intuition and many more.

Semil is also Venture Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, and in 2017, was selected to the Midas Brink List.  He previously was a venture partner at both GGV Capital and Bullpen Capital.

We covered topics like the challenges Semil faced when trying to get into VC, how he’s evolved his approach over the years and his current and future view of the industry. 

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In this episode we discuss:

02:26 Semil’s path into VC and some of the challenges

06:00 Initiating relationships with LPs

12:54 Scaling as a venture firm

16:15 Semil’s portfolio construction methodology

20:30 Were there any transferable elements from LSVP and GGV to running a seed fund?

23:21 Semil’s take on differentiation

31:06 Do LPs push venture firms to be too big?

33:25 Redefining venture scale outcomes

40:08 What it means to be disciplined

41:15 Semil’s view of the venture landscape today

43:50 The most counterintuitive lesson he’s learned being a VC

46:07 Underrated characteristics of successful VCs

Mentioned in this episode

Haystack Ventures

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