Featured on Dec 07, 2011
"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. - Haruki Murakami"
Venture investor at Raptor Ventures. Formerly: product (management, design/UX, analytics) at Hot Potato and drop.io; RRE Ventures; Princeton. Ice cream maker.
- Title: VC at Raptor Ventures
- Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
- Contact: @wpeng
Back in 2009 you worked in VC at RRE Ventures and then worked on the product side at Hot Potato, Drop.io, and K2 Media before jumping back into VC at Raptor Ventures. Any particular reason that you decided to get back into VC this year? Do you ever miss working on product?
I do miss working on product. There is something intangible and wonderful about making something that people love. You can touch so many people through something you've created, and it's an amazing feeling knowing that they are sharing in your experiences and stories.
Looking forward, I think there is an opportunity to solve big problems in areas outside of the tech world as a silo. The consumerization of the internet and democratization of attention have shifted the focus back to what the consumer wants, and this is fundamentally changing the way that consumers interact with brands, celebrities, corporations, etc.
I think there is too much of an "us vs. them" mentality, and that people should work together in mutually beneficial ways to achieve their goals. This is why I decided to get back into venture capital. I think if I can help bring together people with mutual interests, great things can happen.
I also think that there is an opportunity to help startups grow in a different way. While it is true that it is cheaper and faster to iterate and get to product market fit, it is still difficult and expensive to find that business model market fit. Many times, entrepreneurs will just brute force the process, but this is expensive and time-consuming.
If we can help entrepreneurs get to both a product-market fit as well as a business model fit faster, that is the holy grail. The key qualifier is that entrepreneurs shouldn't try to monetize from day 1 if it doesn't fit with their execution strategy; rather, I believe that the best execution strategy is one where the product development cycles educate the business model development cycles, and vice versa.
Building a great product should always come first; the business model shouldn't feel disingenuous and take away from the experience of the product.
How did you get into ice cream making? What’s your favorite combination of flavors to put together?
I've always been a bit obsessed with ice cream. So when I found out about the Ice Cream Club on Kickstarter, I knew I had found my people. The club motivated me to buy my own ice cream machine off Amazon, and the rest is history.
My favorite is also probably the simplest to make. I like to make chai ice cream. You just steep the chai in the heavy cream. This works for any type of tea, or anything that has a flavor, for that matter. I've had a pork bun flavored ice cream before. It tasted exactly like a pork bun.
But let's just say there are some flavors better left out of ice cream.
Any predictions for 2012 in regards to the New York startup community?
A compression of startups across the "barbell" from seed to Series A financing. The top breakout startups will always get funded, but for the startups that have not made much progress or the startups that have made some progress but set future expectations so high in their seed round, they will have a tough time getting interest from true Series A investors.
And to balance out the doom and gloom, I truly believe that the most exciting days are ahead of us. In 2012, we will see something crazy that none of us expect. I believe that the technology and the means are out there, and that we are limited only by our own imaginations. There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, so let your imagination run free.
I think everyone should be able to do what they love, and that's what I like most about being an entrepreneur. Anything is possible.