On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Untapped Capital, Alltruits and Kiva founder Jessica Jackley talks about her experience supporting entrepreneurs across the world, and offers advice to founders on what to do when encountering doubt -- from themselves or others.
"The pursuit of an opportunity, a vision, like an imaginary world that you want to make real. You're running after this thing, you're pursuing it without regard to what you have in front of you," she said. "So there's always going to be something wrong."
Jackley's journey as an entrepreneur started when she founded Kiva, a nonprofit that lends money to low-income entrepreneurs. She started the company and moved to East Africa where she heard stories of people starting businesses with just $100.
"I wasn't asked to swoop in and help or save. I was asked strategic questions about where they could access loan capital, where they could access business training," said Jackley. She added that the individuals she met through the service didn't want handouts.
Kiva offered $200, $300 loans at no interest. That model helped build successful small businesses. Every year, they saw a raise on how many loans they could offer. The company has so far facilitated $1.5 billion in loans since the business started in 2005.
More recently, Jackley founded Untapped Capital and Alltruits. Untapped gave her opportunities to invest in unexpected companies and watch them rise, much like Kiva. Alltruits was born out of the pandemic.
"I really wanted to figure out a way, especially as we were on lockdown, like how do we not just have our lives be waiting for the doorbell to ring and another package is dropped off and we just consume it, right? What, what would it look like to reach back out into the world in a way that is helpful," said Jackley.
She created a box subscription service that provides kids with activities that can benefit them and the world. The company's last box focused on making a pollinator hotel for bees.
From her ventures, Jackley recognized when pursuing your dreams, something will always go wrong.
"There's going to be days when you are told, or you're telling yourself, 'well, I'm not old enough', 'I'm too old'. 'I don't have enough experience'. 'I have the wrong experience', whatever," said Jackley. "Just take more steps anyway towards that thing. Cause that's what great entrepreneurs do."
Hear more of the episode, in which Jackley talks about her goal to disrupt the volunteer economy and more.
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On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, hear Matt McCall discuss his journey into entrepreneurship and wearing life like "a loose sweater."
McCall is well-known to the L.A. venture community as a partner at the Pritzker Group. The company came from a very large family office, which owned The Hyatt, Royal Caribbean and the Marmon group, among others.
McCall set up the group's venture investing office about a decade ago, focusing on seed- and Series A-stage companies.
"The way that we've approached the businesses, we have an active seed program where we'll do quite a few number of seed deals each year -- between $250K and $1 million. And the idea is for that to kind-of build out our farm system. Then probably half of our [later-stage] deals come out of our seed deals and then the other half come through traditional means," said McCall.
Pritzker has invested in consumer companies including Coinbase, Dollar Shave Club and Cameo, as well as enterprise companies such as Matchbox, Project 44 and SMS Assist.
McCall's deep experience has made him a kind-of coach for area entrepreneurs.
"I would argue that I think the biggest issue is when something happens to the company, you need to put the mask on yourself first. It's your own fear that needs to be managed as a VC," said McCall.
McCall also shares his insight on investing in consumer companies and vertically integrated brands, as well as his views on cryptocurrency. Click on the playhead above to hear more.
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On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, media tech expert Shane Kelly comes on to talk about the business of financing feature films and tech startups.
Kelly has financed over 20 feature films and invested in over 20 tech startups, many of them at the center of the tech and entertainment industries. Over the course of his career, Kelly has focused on investing in the future of the media industry with his primary investment fund MCT.
"MCT was formed, to not only be able to invest capital into the new pipelines for content that have emerged with streaming as well as traditional [viewing] -- but also now with the disruption that's happened from COVID," he said.
Kelly said he's seen media innovation evolve from smaller ventures and introduce different ways of thinking across the entertainment sphere. One of Kelly's investments is a pair of headphones that can detect brain signals to determine how focused the user is on a particular song. Kelly said the device can also allow users to skip songs or call someone with their mind.
Kelly also talked about his commitment to bringing more Black and Latinx people into the industry through his work with Pharrell Williams' Black Ambition Prize, which awards anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million to fund ideas and companies.
"Black Ambition Prize started out kind of as a competition, right? To bring together Black and Latinx founders and provide them support and provide awards for the folks that win." Now, he said, it handed out awards to 10 winners in 2021.
Kelly served as a lead mentor of the organization's mentorship program .
He said the work helped him see beyond his own biases and encouraged him to partner with local groups including the Annenberg Foundation and HBCU.vc to create more inclusive environments for young entrepreneurs of color.
"I went down this path, really trying to understand how the world works and how oppressive systems... impact people of different groups, people of different locations," said Kelly.
Listen to the full interview by clicking the playhead above and hear Kelly's thoughts on film, tech and the state of capitalism today.
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.