Venture Unlocked
Venture Unlocked: The playbook for venture capital managers
What's happening at the seed stage? Featuring Jenny Fielding, Kirby Winfield, and Nate Williams

What's happening at the seed stage? Featuring Jenny Fielding, Kirby Winfield, and Nate Williams

Episode 133

Follow me @samirkaji for my thoughts on the venture market, with a focus on the continued evolution of the VC landscape.

This week we're doing another special roundtable discussion with a focus on the seed stage market. Joining us are Jenny Fielding of Everywhere Ventures, Kirby Winfield of Ascend, and Nate Williams of UNION Labs.

This whole conversation was focused on seed stage investing. We spent most of our time discussing how the market reset affects seed-stage decision-making, fund sizing, and reserve strategies. We also touched on what they are seeing and hearing from LPs that invest in seed funds.

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About Jenny Fielding:
Jenny Fielding is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Everywhere Ventures. She is one of the most active global pre-seed investors, having invested in 300+ companies as the first money in. Jenny has built a thriving community of 500+ founders and operators who help source, diligence, and invest in the next generation of startups across 3 core verticals: money, health, and work.

Prior to Everywhere, Jenny spent 7.5 years as the Managing Director of Techstars where she invested in a portfolio of companies with a current market cap over $10B. Jenny is a 2x founder, a lawyer by training, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Cornell Tech.

About Kirby Winfield:
Kirby Winfield is the Founding General Partner at, the most prolific pre-seed stage venture fund in the Pacific Northwest.

Kirby has been operating and investing in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning since the 1990s. His first startup pioneered the use of semantic AI for web search. He advised the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence on the launch and growth of its highly regarded Ai2 Incubator program, and has backed 30+ AI startups as a VC.

Early in his career, Kirby was a founding team member and operating executive at back-to-back tech IPOs, with Go2Net and Marchex. He is also a two-time venture capital-backed CEO, with AdXpose (DFJ, Ignition) acquired by comScore, and Dwellable (Maveron, VersionOne) acquired by HomeAway.

About Nate Williams:
Nate Williams is the co-Founder and Managing Partner of DeepTech seed fund UNION Labs Ventures and formerly an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) at Kleiner Perkins focused on opportunities in Climate, PropTech, and Mobility. Nate's track record includes senior leadership experiences executing through startup, growth and turnaround stage culminating in successful exits for 4Home (to Motorola '10), Motorola Mobility (to Google '12), Motorola Home (to ARRIS '13) and August Home (to Assa Abloy '17).

Prior to Kleiner Perkins, Nate was CRO & Head of Platform PM at August Home, Inc. a leader in Smart Home Access where he secured August commercial growth with market leaders and integration partners including Airbnb, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Honeywell, Comcast, and Google/Nest. Nate was also Senior Director of Marketing & Business Development at Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility (following their acquisition of 4Home where he was CMO & Head of Business). Earlier in his career, he was an Analyst in the Digital Home Group of Intel Corp.

Nate earned an MBA from The UCLA-Anderson School of Management and a Bachelors in Communication Science from The University of Connecticut. He is named in several Communications Infrastructure patents, entrepreneurial, and comfortable building cross-functional teams introducing products under significant market uncertainty.

In this episode, we discuss:

(03:09): The challenges first-time founders face, especially in fundraising and navigating the current economic climate

(04:17): Trends in pre-seed and seed round sizes including the reasons behind increases and their impact on startups

(06:52): The importance of a founder's ability to fundraise in the current economic environment is stressed as critical for startup success

(08:21): Venture Capitalists' adjusted expectations for startups progressing from seed to Series A

(11:59): The need for founders to adapt their strategies in response to market changes, moving towards building sustainable businesses

(16:21): The effects of significant valuation step-ups during seed rounds on the investment ecosystem

(20:39): Current trends in seed valuations and round sizes and implications for the startup and investment community

(25:52): How seed investors are adapting their reserve strategies to better support startups through to Series A rounds and beyond

(27:09): The impact of the funding environment on LPs investment decisions and strategies

(34:43): The challenges GPs face in fundraising efforts are explored, including navigating expectations and market conditions

I’d love to know what you took away from this conversation with Jenny, Kirby, and Nate. 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
Venture Unlocked
Venture Unlocked: The playbook for venture capital managers
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.