LA Venture: Joanne Wilson on How to Tell Good VCs From Bad

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
Joanne Wilson, Gotham Gal Ventures
Image courtesy of Gotham Gal

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, angel investor Joanne Wilson discusses the death of the department stores and her journey from department store management into cannabis investing.

Wilson, who runs Gotham Gal Ventures and a blog of the same name, is among one of New York’s best-known angel investors. Wilson built her career at Macy’s when department stores dominated retail, but she’s since turned her sights to angel investing and investing in female founders in particular.


Wilson’s angel career is mostly based in New York, but she spends her winters in L.A., where she’s made some deals as an angel investor, and said she's still figuring out her style.

"I think every city is different. In terms of the tech venture, I've found the L.A. community to be extremely embracive and thoughtful, and helpful and actually much more intimate," she said.

Wilson got her start in retail at 15 years old and over the years she watched as big players like Macy's went from having their pick of the “best and brightest” minds of their era to losing out to the web and the ecommerce experience.

She made her first angel investment in 2007 and after over 130 angel investments, she eventually turned to the cannabis industry.

"Six to seven years ago, I really wanted to start investing in [cannabis],” said Wilson. “And I found most of the people that were behind it were such cowboys, you know, they saw an opportunity, but they really didn't know how to run a business."

Her aim now, she said, is to transform the cannabis shopping experience from having customers wait in line “like they're standing outside waiting for their social security checks” to a more community-minded concept, akin to walking into a wine store.

As for staff, Wilson said she's committed to hiring people out of New York's public housing and providing jobs to formerly incarcerated New Yorkers.

Wilson said her time as an investor has helped her see both the good and the bad sides of venture capital. Not all successful investors are actually good at it, she added.

"The good VCs if you open up their doors and really peel back the onion, you will see that they didn't make money on one company. They made money on 80% of their companies. And the ones that fail, they figured out a way to merge them into another company or get everyone to get a job. They really care about all of them. Whereas the bad VC, that might own 10% of the company, doesn't do s—."

dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

Hear the full episode by clicking on the playhead above, and listen to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Plus Capital Partner Amanda Groves on Celebrity Equity Investments

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
PLUS Capital​’s Amanda Groves.
Courtesy of Amanda Groves.

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.

As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.

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David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

Rivian Stock Roller Coaster Continues as Amazon Van Delivery Faces Delays
Courtesy of Rivian.

Rivian’s stock lost 7% yesterday on the back of news that the company could face delays in fulfilling Amazon’s order for a fleet of electric delivery vans due to legal issues with a supplier. The electric vehicle maker is suing Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) over a pricing dispute related to the seats that the supplier promised, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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