Nov 30, 2021 • 39M

Initialized Capital's Alda Leu Dennis on building the proper culture for decision making, finding ways to win in today's market, and her concerns with the drop in diverse founder funding.

Episode 62

Samir Kaji
Open in playerListen on);
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 have Alda Leu Dennis, General Partner at Initialized Capital. Founded in 2011, the firm has been an early backer of companies such as Coinbase and Instacart and describes itself as the “Honey Badger” of venture capital. Founded in 2012 with a sub $10MM fund I, they currently ~$1B in AUM.

Prior to joining Initialized, Alda was a managing partner at 137 Ventures (a firm co-founded by past VU guest Justin Fishner-Wolfson). At 137, she led investments in Planet Labs, Wish, Coupang, CourseHero, and Work Market.  Alda also has held various operational roles including COO at Airtime, and General Counsel at Founders Fund, and at Clarium Capital. She did her undergrad at Stanford and received her Law Degree at UCLA.

A word from our sponsor:

Invest in innovation. Allocate allows investors to access top-tier private funds and co-investment opportunities within the technology sector.

Despite the enormous growth of the private markets and the rapid increase of retail demand for private alternatives, investing in the highest quality private assets within the innovation sector still remains limited to institutions and ultra-connected high net worth individuals.

With Allocate, wealth advisors, banks, family offices, and other qualified investors can have a streamlined way to responsibly invest with confidence.

Go to to find out more and please sign up to the waitlist to learn more and get early access to the platform.

In this episode we discuss:

01:35 Alda’s journey from being a lawyer into becoming a full-time investor

03:17 Why she decided that investing was a better fit for her

04:44 Why the Initialized ethos was so compelling to her

06:45 Winning today as a generalist early stage investor

09:00 How they have adjusted to the current market framework

13:13 Most common traits she sees of successful founders

14:58 How Initialized gets to ‘Yes’ on complicated and non-obvious companies

16:31 Portfolio construction and follow-on decision making

17:54 Why Initialized decided to move reduce portfolio size for their more recent funds

19:33 Despite the growth of dollars going into VC, the disturbing trend of decreasing funding of female-led companies in 2020

21:00 How Alda wants to increase investments companies lead by women and underrepresented founders

24:42 Navigating embedded biases in the investing community

27:43 How the diversity movement is specifically changing the investing community today

29:22 Alda’s experience of joining Intialized many years after it was founded and how other firms can learn from her experience of integrating new partners

31:29 How a deal meeting at Initialized typically works

34:09 The way Initialized promotes independent thought and decision making within the firm

34:53 The most counterintuitive things she’s learned as an investor

36:31 The most challenging thing about building a durable firm

37:23 The investor that has made the biggest impact on her

Mentioned in this episode:

Initialized Capital

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