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.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Diankha Linear on How Community Is Revolutionizing Text Marketing

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

​Diankha Linear
Diankha Linear

On this episode of Office Hours, Community CEO Diankha Linear joins host Spencer Rascoff to discuss her foray into the startup world and the strategic approaching to scaling up.

Read moreShow less
https://twitter.com/spencerrascoff
https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencerrascoff/
admin@dot.la

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

***

Read moreShow less

This Week in ‘Raises’: ADARx Pharmaceuticals Lands $46M, PLAI Labs Scores $32M

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

This Week in ‘Raises’: ADARx Pharmaceuticals Lands $46M, PLAI Labs Scores $32M
This Week in ‘Raises’: ContractSafe Inks $27.5M, Deal Box Collects $125M

A local RNA base-editing platform raised fresh funding to advance its drug development pipeline, while a local Web3 company founded by former MySpace and Jam City founders Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb scored funding to build out an artificial intelligence backed by generative AI that allows users to create and upload their own digital assets to the game.

***

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending