Why’s It Called Vol. 1 Ventures?
When I talk about Vol. 1 Ventures with folks one question I get a lot is how we came up with the name. It’s a fun story that I wanted to share with you all (if you’re interested in learning more about being an LP, feel free to email me at [email protected].)
When I decided to sell Fintech Today to Workweek, Stevie took me to Malibu for a week to destress. We were pretty far along with a hypothetical FTT Ventures idea but for some reason I didn’t feel like I was setting myself up for success there. Building a media company is hard, building a venture capital fund is also hard. They’re also very disparate and unique skill sets that don’t have that much overlap. I felt that my attention would always be pulled back to the media side of Fintech Today, and my focus would never be 100% on doing a VC fund, which is actually what I wanted to do anyway.
So, after I sold FTT, I thought about getting a fund off the ground. I pretty much had to start from scratch, so about 6 months of nonstop work went down the drain. I was pretty disappointed about that but was determined to power through. A week in Malibu would help me reset a bit.
I started scoping out an early stage fintech and crypto fund called Kar Ventures. I was pretty hyped about the name at the time.
In Malibu, there’s an Aviator Nation right off the PCH with a massive bar and lounge area for people to do work at. So Stevie & I spent a full day there hanging out and thinking about my next step. I was telling her all about Kar Ventures and what I wanted to do with it and she stops me suddenly, saying that she thinks I needed a new name—it was just another way for me to feed my ego. I also got a text from her brother, which if I recall correctly said, “Bro…you can’t call your fund Kar Ventures…”
After thinking about it I realized they were really right. Just because other funds are named after the GP’s didn’t mean that I needed to do the same. It’s a bit corny and lame in hindsight.
Now I had to start from even further back—you can start a company without a name but its hard to start a fund, which is so dependent on branding and marketing, without a clear brand that fits the fund thesis and the story.
At the Aviator Nation, there’s a stage and a wall of vinyl records of all sorts of music. It was Stevie who suggested “why don’t you do something music related?” Not a ton of people know this but I have a somewhat academic background in music in addition to my love of it—I had a music scholarship in college for singing, and played piano for 10 years.
Stevie asked me how I started getting into rap and I was telling her about how Jay-Z was the first rapper I started listening to, and how “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” was the first song I memorized. When I was younger I didn’t know a lot about music, and my parents hated rap, so I learned about the biographies of all these rappers from Wikipedia. Reasonable Doubt was Jay-Z’s first album, which is one of the top rap albums of all time, and he followed it up by In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.
I can’t remember who thought of it first but we both almost simultaneously realized that Vol. 1 would be a fire name for a VC fund. I’ve always been attracted to the early stage side of things, and being close to the company creation process. Vol. 1 Ventures is a symbol of that—the first steps in a founder’s journey, the first steps in turning an idea into a real company, and hopefully, the first of many funds.
Also Jay-Z’s rise is inspirational to me, and to other founders as well. Its hard for it not to be—he started selling CD’s in the back of his car, and started his own record label because of it. Now he’s one of the biggest artists in the world and has catapulted so many other artists to superstardom too.
Helping founders get started has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my professional career, and something I feel like we’re only just scratching the surface with. Starting a company is hard and there are a ton of pain points that founders go through. Stevie and I think that with our experiences and unique skillsets, we can offset a lot of those issues and help companies from Day 0.