We view ourselves as service providers to entrepreneurs. We endeavor to support and challenge the amazing entrepreneurs we back but do so in a respectful manner. We take a long-term view and are aggressive, but patient. We are there for you. It’s what we call unwavering partnership. And we take it very seriously.
At Shasta Ventures, we deliberately work with a small number of companies to maintain our ability to support our portfolio. We make about ten investments per year across the entire firm so that each partner is only working with a small number of companies. This allows each one of us to give the entrepreneur the attention he or she needs and deserves. It’s all about more focus.
We invest in early-stage (Series A and Series B) companies in the Consumer, Enterprise and Emerging Platforms sectors and have the privilege of supporting passionate founders and teams who are building world-changing products and services and creating category-defining businesses.
We back brilliant, driven, relentless entrepreneurs. We seek entrepreneurs with strong track records of iteration who are going after massive markets. We find this iterative characteristic to be more important than prior successes or failures. In fact, we have seen again and again that the creative, driven entrepreneur who iterates and is pragmatic rather than dogmatic is best able to navigate the deep ambiguity of starting something from nothing and ultimately finding a product that truly solves a customer’s need.
Our primary objective is to support these entrepreneurs with unwavering partnership.
We realize many venture capitalists sound alike speaking about being entrepreneur or founder friendly. But many just pay lip service to the idea. At Shasta, we take this partnership commitment very seriously and endeavor to always be the best partners possible. The relationship between a founder and their investor runs deep - it’s a long-term partnership which can last ten years or more. Basically, it’s a marriage.
It involves spending an enormous amount of time together in ongoing discussions, calls and meetings, hashing through what’s working, what’s not, what decisions need to be made and when and what are the ramifications of ongoing market, competitive and customer dynamics. It involves making decisions about when to fundraise, when to sell (or not), who to hire, who to fire, when to up-level roles, and how to think about competitive dynamics, developing balanced long-term compensation programs and much, much more. It involves the good, the bad, the ugly.
At Shasta, we think of ourselves as service providers to the entrepreneur – we’re the people in their corner supporting the entrepreneurs with all aspects of building their businesses. Oftentimes, we are the lead thought partner for our portfolio companies, providing key guidance to CEOs and setting a framework for how to think about important decisions. For example, are we selling into small, medium or large businesses? Depending on the answer, it will affect the product organization and development, how it’s priced and marketed and ultimately how it’s sold and maintained.
We want entrepreneurs to succeed, and are available to answer any of their questions at any time. They get all our empathy, enthusiasm and support. It doesn’t mean that we won’t push hard or ask challenging questions – it’s about the way we do it. We recognize that you run your company and we are there to push and challenge you. But we are not overly prescriptive. And we are not jerks. We treat entrepreneurs and founders with respect, even when the topic is challenging.
It’s what we call Unwavering Partnership.
To better understand what this means to us, below are the core values that are at the center of our partnership philosophy. We realize that it’s easy to say these things but we think the true proof comes from hearing from the entrepreneurs that we support. To give you a sense of how we work, we’ve incorporated some of their quotes.
We’re in it for the long haul
Shasta has great partners with deep experience who are very loyal to their companies and CEOs. Unlike a lot of other firms, Shasta is in it for the long haul – they support their companies when they get into trouble. They consider themselves service providers to entrepreneurs – it’s an unusual, refreshing and invaluable perspective.
- Jim Barnett, CEO of Glint
It’s hunky-dory when everything's going well, and all the growth is up and to the right. Even a monkey could be a board member under those circumstances.
It’s when things are difficult – when you have to recruit new buyers or terminate different leaders or change business models. All the things that happen in the real world, that’s when you find out what the investors are really made of. Shasta really does back the entrepreneurs through the highs and lows and through the thick and thin.
- Richard Yanowitch, Chairman & CEO at Brandcast.
We are steadfast
Success rarely follows a straight trajectory and having a partner there every step of the way gave us the support to build the brand and company we are today.
Jason has been on the board of two of my companies. I’ve seen him in good times and bad and can unequivocally say he is one of the few that give venture capitalists a good name. He is unwavering in his conviction, extremely data-driven, and maintains a level-head at all times.
- Randy Nicolau, CEO, co-Founder of Poppin
We get products
Ravi Mohan brings all his experiences to bear when you’re making decisions on designing a product. You can see it in the way he asks penetrating questions. Because he has spent time drilling down on specific processes, operations and product capabilities, he truly understands every aspect of a company’s business, the customer pain points that you’re trying to solve on a large scale and how to help your company get there.
- Evan Liang, CEO at LeanData
We show up
At Nest, the other venture capitalists would send their admins over to get thermostats or smoke detectors. Rob would pick them up himself and return them personally and give all his feedback one-on-one. Rob was the guy who would be there during the real launch – when you’re in the control room, counting down, unlocking the website, unlocking social media, watching the embargo unwind. At our first 4 a.m. launch, Rob showed up with bottles of champagne. For thermostat 2.0, Rob came to the launch at 1 a.m.
- Erik Charlton, CEO at Noon Home, former head of Business for Nest Labs
We tell the truth without being a#@!s about it
If you’re doing a bad job, they will call you on it. But they will only invest in you if they believe in you, and once they invest, they are your partners.
- Moti Rafalin, CEO and founder at vFunction