hackNY’s Summer Series launched Wednesday June 1 with Ann Miura-Ko, co-founding partner of Floodgate Ventures. She discussed her life, unique career path, and how venture capital fits into tech startups. Ann led the fellows through her career, beginning with her time as an electrical engineering undergraduate at Yale. Fortuitously offered the opportunity to shadow Lew Platt, CEO of Hewlett-Packard at the time, she developed a taste for business and switched gears to jobs outside of engineering.
Ann spent a summer as an intern at Goldman Sachs, then several years as a management consultant at McKinsey. After McKinsey, she moved on to work in venture capital at Charles River Ventures. Investing in the economy-low of 2001-2003 proved slow, however, and after two years, Ann felt it was time to return to school for her PhD at Stanford. She returned to venture capital in 2008, co-founding a new fund named Floodgate Ventures.
Ann explained VC funds, including where they receive funding, how they function, and what part they play in the growth of a startup. Having taught numerous classes on startups and business model generation at Stanford, Ann deftly explained startup economics. The lecture became more of a dialogue, as the fellows had some great questions about VC funds, investing, and startups in general. For many, this was a first exposure to the intricacies of startup finance and funding.
Ann was sure to indicate the obligations that came with bringing an investor on board, and that obtaining investors is not necessarily the best choice for every startup. “If you’d sell your company now if you could,” she pointed out, “don’t raise money.” Venture capitalists expect growth and a significant return on their investment to support their obligations to their own investors. It was apparent in the fellows’ questions, however, that Ann helped demystify how startups interact with investors and achieve subsequent growth.