Paul Martino from Bullpen Capital on being an early pioneer in post-seed, conviction to back non-consensus startups + another way to think about the SPAC movement
Contrarian based investing requires extreme conviction, and the ability to consistently invest in founders and businesses that don’t always have mainstream acceptance. Bullpen Capital has long been known as a firm that will not shy away from the overlooked companies, but instead seeks out the undiscovered gems to drive alpha for their investors and founders.
Bullpen was founded in 2010 with Duncan Davidson and Richard Melmon, and was a pioneer in post-seed round funding—the gap between seed and A round. The fund has $383 AUM and invested in several success stories including Life360, FanDuel, and Ipsy, among many others.
Prior to Bullpen, Paul was an operator that founded eight companies and he holds over a dozen patents. He was an angel investor in companies like Zynga, TubeMogul, and uDemy. Paul is also a recognized expert on sports betting and gaming, appearing on CNBC and Fox Business regularly.
In this episode we discuss the following topics:
01:09 Paul’s journey from the operators side to venture
03:11 Seeing the post-seed gap in the market
05:06 Why fundraising for fund 3 was so tough
08:00 Being the only firm “dumb enough” to pursue post-seed
09:48 Looking for unloved and undiscovered companies
12:52 Getting LPs comfortable with their investing thesis
13:24 Why he loves backing underdog founders and why it’s been a successful strategy
14:25 How strong conviction gets deals done at Bullpen
16:33 Bullpen’s team approach in servicing companies
18:24 Keep a culture of contrarianism
20:21 The gap between boutique and larger funds
21:55 How Bullpen’s reserve model has evolved over time
23:42 SPACs have a certain parallel
27:29 Thoughts on emerging managers that will become institutional
29:57 The best advice he’s gotten as a VC
30:55 Paul’s anti portfolio
32:43 The investor he admires the most
Mentioned In This Episode:
We’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Paul! Follow @SamirKaji and give your insight and questions using 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 a direct message on Twitter.