Brian Linthicum, Director of Business Development at Gyft, gets Mark Suster, Partner, Upfront Venture, talking about the ins and outs of being a VC. Mark is interestingly frank about the nuances of being a VC.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Diversity is Important:
    Entrepreneurs tend to hire people who are similar to them; having someone on board with a different mindset than yours helps bring diversity and a different perspective to the table. Startups need to maintain the right balance of the tech talent and a business development team to ensure that the business is a success.
  2. MBA vs. Learning on the Job:
    According to Mark, an MBA is not a prerequisite for becoming a successful entrepreneur; what the curriculum has to offer can be learned on the job. The greatest benefit of doing MBA from top-tier management schools is the certificate and the peers who would later be influential individuals. Mark also said that networking in MBA is more important than attending classes!
  3. Doubt is Never Out:
    Insecurities and self-doubt are a part of running your own business. Entrepreneurs should learn to separate their anxieties and project confidence in themselves and their endeavor and get things done.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:47 – Mark established his company is 1999 and described, in brief, the startup scene back then. He also told the audience of the mistakes he made back then
  • 7:04 – An entrepreneur experiences extreme highs, almost euphoria, and undergoes severe mental, physical, and emotional stress, while for a VC, highs and lows of the profession are comparatively more muted
  • 10:37 – Mark believes in entrepreneurs who are continually maniacal, driven, competitive, and persistent
  • 15:07 – Mark described himself as a VC who is actively involved in all of its portfolio company. He focuses on online videos as well as software and service in cloud, and also spoke about the team at Upfront Venture
  • 26:06 – Being a VC and a blogger has attracted a lot of negative sentiments for Mark; he also suggested that Secret app should have a system of authority ranking for individuals who post on the platform
  • 31:48 – Mark wouldn’t mind backing an athlete-owned company, as athletes have key qualities like discipline, passion, and focus that are essential for any successful entrepreneur
  • 35:02 – Q&A: What do you think about Uber’s excessively aggressive business strategy?
  • 37:12 – LA Startups are better at monetization and understanding the need of their customers than many San Francisco startups; scalability, however, is the biggest shortcoming of most LA startups.
  • 39:05 – Q&A: What makes a startup ready for a VC?
  • 42:20 – Q&A: How are corporate VCs changing the landscape for lead VCs and entrepreneurs?


Mark Suster (1)
Partner, Upfront Venture