On this episode of LA Venture, Chirag Chotalia talks about his journey from Pritzker Group to DFJ to Threshold Ventures.
Chotalia made a name for himself in L.A.'s tech community while working at Pritzker, where he led investments and worked with a number of successful startups, including Dollar Shave Club and The Honest Company. He joined enterprise and consumer-focused venture firm DFJ in 2018 and is now a partner at Threshold Ventures, which evolved out of DFJ.
The transition gives him and his colleagues a chance to reimagine a venture firm, with the benefit of a 30-year history of hindsight.
"Think of it as sort of a rebrand and refresh of the core of DFJ," he said.
Chotalia and his partners at Threshold feel that funds need to focus in order to stand out in today's venture world.
"In a highly competitive market where there's a bunch of new entrants, there's a need to define yourself and a need to stick to your knitting. Focus is greater today than it ever has been in venture," said Chotalia.
For his part, Chotalia is focused on the intersection of consumer and healthcare. His experience at three high-profile VC funds, he said, have honed his ability to assess which investments are worthwhile.
"The role of a board member [is] going to board meetings and really listening and figuring out what are the two or three things that are the most important — and focusing all of your discussion and commentary on those two or three," said Chotalia.
Click the playhead above to hear the full episode, in which Chotalia talks about the maturity of the venture industry and Threshold's team-oriented approach to investing.
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Logan Hollowell talks about her fascination with gemstones and crystals and how that took her to creating her own jewelry company.
Raised in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Hollowell grew up used to hurricanes and the destruction they brought. She said she saw her neighborhood rebuilt about every three years. Watching things wiped out and then rebuilt helped forge Hollowell's worldview.
"Just knowing that everything can be rebuilt, and everything starts over and there's always this rebirth process. It kind of encouraged me to from a young age to recognize that it's okay [to] take risks, and things will always work themselves out," said Hollowell.
She took that risk and moved to California at the age of 17. Hollowell went to Santa Monica College, living paycheck to paycheck as she picked up jobs working as a waitress and bartending. She couldn't rely on her family to help her financially, she said, and that helped her become independent at an early age.
Hollowell repeated affirmations to herself in the mirror to build her self-confidence. She also kept track of the little things that she wanted.
"I made a vision board and I would put a place I wanted to go, I really wanted to do a luxury Napa experience. And I wanted like a bomber jacket. Just some little things," said Hollowell, adding that she found visualizing her dreams was crucial to putting herself in a goal-oriented mindset. She went on to design and create her own jewelry and her own company.
In the rest of the episode, Hollowell talks about the jeweler that changed her life and the challenges she faced as an entrepreneur.
On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Jenna Lyons talks about struggling to find her passion to becoming a fashion icon and co-founder of the beauty brand, LoveSeen.
Lyons started her career as intern at Donna Karan then went on to join the design team at J.Crew. After nearly 30 years, she decided to build her own empire. The idea of being in the fashion industry was something that came to her when she learned how to sew.
"Everybody knew, you know, 'I'm going to be a nurse, I'm going to be a teacher, I'm gonna be a doctor.' And I didn't know and I was so grateful to find this passion for making clothes," said Lyons.
As a young teen, Lyons had a genetic disorder that made her teeth yellow and created bald spots on her head and scars all over her body. She was already about six feet tall and was teased by bullies. She said nothing fit her right as she tried on all kinds of sizes. It wasn't until she took a sewing class and made her own clothes that she noticed a difference.
"I was really shocked when I started to make clothes. The whole conversation around my image or what I was wearing, or how I looked, shifted dramatically. And the power of something like that is so overwhelming. It was the first time I had positive feedback on something that I had not only worn, but I actually made it myself," said Lyons.
The passion to make clothes changed Lyons life as she went off to Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York. However, the school's expensive tuition became too much and Lyon returned home for the summer to be a waitress. Just before she did, however, she found a job posting for J.Crew as an assistant designer in men's knits.
She put her her resume out there and got an interview with the head of human resources. She finally heard back at the end of the summer with a job offer. Lyons took the job without even asking the salary. Twenty-seven years later, Lyons moved from her role as president of J Crew to begin her own company focused on reinventing fake lashes. She was inspired by the very condition that she had that impacted her lash growth. Lyons even got her own HBO Max series.
"I never in a million years, never in a million years, would have thought that I would have gotten to a place in my career where people actually want to take a picture of me or my outfit," said Lyons.
In the rest of the episode, Lyons gets in-depth with her childhood, why she left J.Crew. and how she reinvented herself.
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