RAISE Global is proud to partner with National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and Venture Forward to empower emerging managers, diversify the venture community, and catalyze the next generation of great companies. The RAISE Editorial team recently interviewed Bobby Franklin, President & CEO of NVCA, and Maryam Haque, Executive Director of Venture Forward, to learn more about their respective initiatives.
RAISE: What is NVCA, and what role does it play in the startup ecosystem?
Bobby: The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) has played a pivotal role in the venture ecosystem since it was founded nearly 50 years ago in the early days of modern VC. Since then, NVCA has served as the voice of the U.S. venture capital and startup community, advocating for public policy that supports the U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem. In recent years, our industry has become more front and center among policymakers in Washington. We focus on key policy issues to strengthen the startup ecosystem: taxes, immigration, capital markets and regulation, and foreign investment. We are a membership-driven nonprofit organization supported by a diverse range of VC firms across investment stages, fund sizes, industry sectors, and geographies. The VC industry has had a big impact on our economy and innovation over the past 50 years. Our mission is to empower the next generation of American companies that will fuel the economy of tomorrow.
RAISE: Why did NVCA launch Venture Forward last year, and what does Venture Forward focus on?
Bobby: The industry’s public policy needs have grown and gotten more complex in recent years. At the same time, NVCA was increasingly being asked to address a host of needs beyond policy that have emerged as the venture industry has matured and evolved. These needs include addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion and removing barriers to accessing VC education, resources, and networks. Having a complementary but separate organization with the mission, leadership, and resources to focus solely on investing in the health of the industry ensures a long-term, sustainable approach to addressing these critical areas. NVCA publicly launched Venture Forward as its 501(c)(3) supporting nonprofit in June 2020 to drive the human capital, culture, values, and narrative of venture capital to promote a strong and inclusive community that will fuel the economy of tomorrow.
Maryam: Venture Forward is focused on shaping the future of venture capital by providing programming, education, data and research, and resources that empower the ecosystem’s ability to thrive. Our work revolves around four key areas:
RAISE: How do NVCA and Venture Forward work together to support the VC industry?
Bobby: Operating as one team supporting two organizations, NVCA and Venture Forward collaborate to address a wide range of important industry issues and provide programming, all under the mandate to nurture a thriving, inclusive venture capital industry in the U.S., now and in the future. Having two organizations allows us to expand the capacity of each to focus on its specific missions. Venture Forward focuses its full attention on the efforts Maryam outlined above that support the internal wellbeing of the VC community, while NVCA continues to focus its full attention on shaping public policy that is critical to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. By structurally separating the advocacy and industry advancement efforts, NVCA and Venture Forward are both better equipped to meet the needs of the venture community.
RAISE: Why and how are NVCA and Venture Forward supporting the RAISE community?
Maryam: Emerging managers are incredibly important to the venture industry. It is through these new entrants that the industry grows and evolves. Emerging managers bring new diversity, not only in terms of those from underrepresented backgrounds but also in terms of geography, professional experience, investment thesis, etc., and fund a new set of pioneering companies, often at the earliest stages. Supporting emerging managers all the way from when they’re considering raising a fund to when they’re raising fund 1-2 and then hopefully going on to raise fund 3+ are central to Venture Forward’s mission, since emerging managers are fundamental to the future of our industry. Some examples of Venture Forward programming targeted to emerging managers:
We also just released our first Impact Report highlighting additional programs, as well as the VC Human Capital Survey we conduct every two years to track and measure the VC industry’s progress on DEI.
Bobby: Emerging managers are also core to NVCA’s advocacy efforts since policymakers and regulators can overlook the unintended consequences policy can have on this segment of the VC market, where the impact may be worse/different compared with larger and more established firms. For example, changes to how carried interest capital gains are taxed will likely have a much bigger impact on a smaller, emerging manager than a firm with $1B+ AUM investing out of fund 10. But all of the public policy issues NVCA’s advocates for (e.g., tax, immigration, basic research/tech transfer, etc.) impact emerging managers, not just the larger and most established firms.
RAISE: What are some of the issues emerging managers (and LPs?) are facing?
Maryam: Raising capital, LP relationships, deploying capital, and managing a portfolio are always top of mind for emerging managers, but important aspects to fund management (e.g., back office, operations, finance, etc.) are also areas where we’re seeing more interest in education and resources. The pandemic has shed light on new issues and exacerbated challenges emerging managers have always faced. For example, building a network and establishing new relationships, whether with LPs, other investors, or companies, has been tough in a virtual world.
Similarly, most LPs gravitate toward known relationships and established funds when making commitment decisions. In addition, the bull market in the VC industry has continued and even accelerated through the pandemic, making deals even more competitive. For newer managers looking to develop their track record, this can prove challenging. And lastly, emerging managers from underrepresented backgrounds often feel the challenges around access to capital and building LP relationships more acutely, making programs and opportunities like RAISE or LP Office Hours even more beneficial to serving the emerging manager ecosystem.
RAISE: What are a few significant public policy issues that should be top of mind for emerging managers?
RAISE: How can the RAISE community get involved with NVCA and Venture Forward?
Bobby: All emerging managers are encouraged to become NVCA members to support our public policy work advocating for VCs and entrepreneurs. NVCA members also benefit from access to differentiated, career catalyzing education and advancement programs, unparalleled community and networking opportunities, and exclusive, industry-leading research and analysis. Learn more about what it means to be an NVCA member here.
Maryam: All emerging managers are also invited to participate in Venture Forward’s programs and initiatives to further their professional development; build relationships with LPs, peers, and industry leaders; and access resources that will be useful in building a successful career in VC. Get involved with Venture Forward’s programs and initiatives by signing up for communications or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Tipping Point Series (“Tipping Point”) is a collection of interviews with fund managers who (a) have previously raised a venture capital fund and (b) are providing advice and insights into the formation and management of venture capital funds (the “Presentations”). Tipping Point is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security issued by any venture capital fund, including without limitation, any venture capital fund managed by Tipping Point’s speakers, presenters, or producers.
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Tipping Point is produced by Raise Conferences, LLC (“Raise”). Raise is a private invite-only venture capital conference, which provides a forum for venture capital funds to network with and present to potential venture capital investors. Although Raise produces Tipping Point, the Presentations are independent of Raise’s conference and do not provide any forum for the Tipping Point speakers, presenters, or producers to solicit the sale of any securities.