Lightspeed Partner Faraz Fatemi on the Future of Consumer and Community-Focused Startups

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.
Lightspeed Partner Faraz Fatemi

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Lightspeed Partner Faraz Fatemi discusses a trend toward vertical-specific, authentic social platforms, as well as the shifting ecommerce and influencer economy.

As Lightspeed’s first L.A.-based partner, Fatemi focuses on four general areas of investment: consumer social, the creator economy, community-based commerce and interactive media.




Lightspeed invests from seed to pre-IPO, but Fatemi’s early-stage consumer team focuses on seed through Series B. Fatemi said he looks at what differentiates companies from their potential competitors when assessing investments.

In terms of consumer social, he sees several trends developing simultaneously, from livestream shopping to influencer commerce, peer-to-peer marketplaces and group buying, where consumers organize to reach the best deal on a product.

Fatemi said he’s particularly interested in social networks’ ability to cultivate a passionate community and a sense of authenticity for their users.

“I truly believe that the next generation of social platforms will have some elements of community ownership that reward things like engagement and development and contribution, frankly, to the platform,” he said. “So platforms will likely serve as a centralized store of content, and it'll start to build up social currency [and] credibility with an emphasis on digital identity as you're contributing to this community.”

Fatemi’s experience working at Clubhouse, a social app focused on audio, gave him insight into the importance of building a community and how to evaluate success. Viral momentum has its benefits, he said, but understanding what drives engagement can help social platforms find long-term success. Similarly, his time overseeing corporate development at Wave.tv taught him to focus on the psychology of the young users they were trying to serve. That led his team to pivot to creating sports highlights rather than longer-form content.

Fatemi credits his large Iranian family and—in particular—his mother, a psychologist, for influencing his approach to social media companies. Understanding what people do and why they do it, he said, can help platforms build audiences.

“What are folks looking to get out of it from a psychological perspective?” he asked. “If you can nail that psychological piece, I think that's what's going to allow you to build a really sticky community.”

Fatemi sees a parallel between his parents encouraging him to follow his own path and how he works with his portfolio companies. While founders focus on crafting their startup’s direction, he said a good partner or board member encourages their vision without being overly authoritative.

“At the end of the day, it is a founder’s business, right? [It] is their baby,” he said. “They should be the ones that are determining the direction the business is going in.”

dot.LA editorial intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.

Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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What Tesla's Trucking Feat Means for Natural Gas Vehicles in California

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

What Tesla's Trucking Feat Means for Natural Gas Vehicles in California
Image from Tesla

Last month, when dot.LA toured the Hexagon Purus facility in Ontario, California, multiple employees bemoaned the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) ruling on renewable natural gas (RNG) as a hindrance to decarbonizing trucking-haul trucking. They argued that keeping RNG classified as a “near-zero emission” fuel prevented companies using financial incentives like the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, which, as the name suggests, is only available to true zero-emission trucks. The effect, they said, was that the agency was missing an opportunity to accelerate the state’s transition away from diesel.

But over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce that the EV company’s battery powered class 8 semi-truck had completed a 500-mile trip fully loaded (to the tune of 81,000 lbs). It now appears CARB’s refusal to classify renewable natural gas (RNG) as a zero-emission fuel source was ultimately the right decision.

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Hoopla’s Deron Quon on Keeping Perspective as a Founder

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.
Hoopla’s Deron Quon
Image courtesy of Deron Quon.

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, serial founder and angel investor Deron Quon discusses the human side of entrepreneurship and how a founder’s ethos can impact company culture.

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