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.
- LA Venture: Investor Josh Jones on Bitcoin, Investing and the Future ... ›
- LA Venture: How M13's Anna Barber Puts Local Startups First ›
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.
- Digitalis Ventures' Drew Taylor on Investing in Pet Health - dot.LA ›
- LA Venture: How M13's Anna Barber Puts Local Startups First ›
- LA Venture: Chirag Chotalia on Threshold Ventures - dot.LA ›
Josh Jones is one of the managing partners of The Fund LA, but he's been part of so much more.
He was a co-founder of DreamHost, a bitcoin pioneer and, most recently, the owner of an airline that plans to launch in the spring. On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, he talks about lessons learned along the way, and some of his future plans.
Jones stumbled into DreamHost while at Claremont's Harvey Mudd College. Some classmates had just started the company and asked if he'd be interested in joining on.
"I said, 'I hate those logos. And I hate the name of the company, but I'm in,'" said Jones.
They bought a server and then tried running an ad network, then an ecommerce service and even a delivery service. But the only thing that customers seemed to be interested in was paying to host their sites on DreamHost's servers.
Seventeen years later, DreamHost is still around. Jones stepped away from the company in 2013 after selling all his shares in order to pursue a new venture: Bitcoin.
Jones was introduced to cryptocurrency through an article and decided to buy in after doing some research to determine whether it was legitimate.
In 2010 he became one of the very early Bitcoin miners: "You couldn't get any unless you downloaded the software. And then it just ran on my little $300 media PC for a few months. And then I checked one day, and I was like, 'I have 50 Bitcoin.' I was like, 'Cool, it's worth $3', or something, at the time," said Jones.
Jones found his way back to Harvey Mudd in 2017, where he created an accelerator program. That's where he came across a startup called Float that was interested in creating a low-cost commuter airline to take passengers a short distance -- for instance, from Santa Monica to Pomona or Van Nuys to Santa Ana.
"They launched, I think it was March 7th, 2020. And they had a great week. And then COVID shut everything down," said Jones.
The Float team and Jones then bid on an airline that went bankrupt during the pandemic. "And now we run this regional airline in Alaska called Ravn." But Jones describes his much bigger vision for growing from Ravn to Northern Pacific, an airline that will fly from the US to Asia via a layover in Anchorage.
The company is now working on creating a loyalty program that uses crypto.
Press the playhead above to hear Jones talk in depth about his background and experience with bitcoin -- and what he sees for its future.Engagement reporter Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
- The Fund Launches a Venture Capital Firm in Los Angeles - dot.LA ›
- Jessica Jackley on LA Venture - dot.LA ›