Last week we gathered as a team in Venice Beach California. We do this at least twice a year — fly to a city, clear our calendars, and spend time together. No phones, no meetings, no rules. It’s an opportunity to go a level deeper with the people who are working on this project, better known as Collab Fund.
It was one of my favorite gatherings since starting the firm 12 years ago. Maybe the pandemic has left me craving more meaningful interactions or the fresh, ocean air – I am not sure. But it was highly productive.
We discussed all the usual things you might expect. How are we evolving as a firm? Is our thesis fresh/current? How can we better support portfolio companies? What do we want to be when we grow up?
If forced to summarize one key take-away from these discussions, it would be to continue to chart our own path. Study and learn from other great investors and firms, but do things our way.
Some of the highlights:
A wonderful session with Mark Suster. Mark is someone I’ve looked up to for a long time. A principled, hard-working, generous person. He leads by example and lets his performance speak for itself. His willingness to open up and speak candidly with our entire team about a wide range of topics was such a gift. He’s got an absolute treasure chest of knowledge.
Next up was a donut break! We couldn’t help but meet up with the Holey Grail Donuts team and sample the product. With due respect to Mark, the team was divided on what they enjoyed more 😂.
For those not familiar, Holey Grail makes donuts using Hawaii-grown superfood taro. Every donut is made-to-order and served in 100% compostable packaging. Next time you are in LA, give it a try, you’ll thank me! (We are investors in the company, but I’d recommend them even if we weren’t )
Finally, we wrapped things up with a pilgrimage to the Venice Art Walls. With over 10 million visitors annually, this is Southern California’s second most visited destination behind Disneyland. It is a place where artists can paint old concrete walls and express their creativity — legally — in any way shape or form! I’ve painted there dozens of times over the years and was so happy to share this experience with the rest of the crew.
Despite some initial reluctance, we all chipped in and painted a mural together. It was a blast, and something I won’t forget.
With our batteries recharged, our bellies full, and further clarity around our purpose, I am excited for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Postscript: In addition to Holey Grail, we enjoyed local treats from Gjusta and Bay Cities Deli. Both were A+. Special shout-out to Olivia for helping organize the whole sha-bang.