Building Startup ecosystems, the solo GP life, and lessons from the dotcom bubble with Kirby Winfield of Ascend.Vc
The road of a solo GP is full of highs and lows, and today’s guest Kirby Winfield has been through all of it. After working in the 90s tech and startup scene in Seattle, Kirby went on to found Ascend VC as a solo GP. We talk about his biggest lessons, the best advice he’s gotten, and dig into some of the stories from the trenches as an emerging manager.
About Kirby Winfield:
Kirby Winfield is currently the Founding General Partner at Ascend.vc, a pre-seed stage venture fund investing in marketplace, e-commerce/DTC, and B2B software startups in the Pacific Northwest.
Early in his career, Kirby was a founding team member and operating executive at back-to-back tech IPOs, with Go2Net (GNET) and Marchex (MCHX). He is also a two-time venture capital-backed CEO, with AdXpose (DFJ, Ignition) acquired by comScore (SCOR), and Dwellable (Maveron, VersionOne) acquired by HomeAway (AWAY).
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In this episode we discuss:
02:45 Kirby’s journey into tech
06:08 Lessons from the Dot Com bust
12:21 Why founders should get to know public market analysts
13:45 Kirby’s early experience as an Angel Investor
16:07 Early exits as an investor
18:11 Finding his first LPs as an emerging manager
21:36 Why he viewed his age as a first time manager as an advantage
26:37 Building a better startup ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest
31:37 Kirby’s original investment thesis and how is has evolved
38:19 Managing as a solo GP
45:03 Things to avoid that may be red flags to LPs
49:10 Navigating the seed and early stage markets in 2022
52:50 The best career advice he’s gotten as a GP
📰 - Favorite Newsletter/Blog: Chad Sanderson substack - Data Products
📲 - Favorite Tech Gadget: Garmin
📈 - Favorite New Trend: Lower valuation caps
📚 - Favorite Book: Led Zepplin, The Beatles
🤔 - Favorite Life Lesson: Running Everyday Solves Problems