Aug 10 • 48M

Mark Mullen of Bonfire Ventures on going from a solo capitalist to joining forces with Jim Andelman, the state of seed markets, and his view on what makes fund managers differentiated

Episode 89

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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.
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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.

This week brings us Mark Mullen, Co-Founding partner of LA-based seed firm Bonfire Ventures.

Bonfire is based in Santa Monica and manages three Venture Capital funds with over $400MM in AUM.

Mark spent 20 years as an I-banker before focusing on startup investing in 2012 with Double M capital. Mark has also been an active LP, investing in over 20 managers over the years. 

On the show, we talked about how he and Jim Andelman (formerly Rincon) decided to join forces to start Bonfire after each running their own VC firms. We also spoke about things like what he looks for in a great manager, his view on the seed market today, and what helped him gain so much early success as a fund manager when he was just getting started.


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About Mark Mullen
Mark is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bonfire Ventures. He is also the Founder of the early-stage firm Double M Partners.

Prior to his investing career, Mark spent the first 20 years of his career as a telco, cable, and tech M&A investment banker working for Bill Daniels, often referred to as the father of cable TV in the US. He also served as COO of the City of Los Angeles and Senior Advisor to then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

In this episode we discuss:

01:12 Mark’s journey to starting Bonfire Ventures and partnering with Jim
09:33 How Mark found early success getting into competitive deals
12:12 The power of effective scouts
17:28 His view on investing in emerging managers
23:01 Balancing the Firm’s brand and the individual brands when it comes to building a reputation
27:00 Why Mark and Jim decided to partner up and form Bonfire
31:30 Why mergers of VC firms are challenging and why raising Fund II will be a huge challenge for emerging managers
35:01 How were their conversations with LPs when raising Bonfire when he and Jim decided to join forces?
38:40 The health of the seed market in 2022
42:43 The lesson Mark has taken as his true north in investing

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