- Storm Ventures | Early-stage enterprise SaaS, cloud, infrastructure
- Twitter – @ryanfloyd | 1500 followers
- Enterprising | Personal Blog
- Ask a VC | Youtube Channel
- Loves being out in the ocean surfing the green barrel.
It was my great pleasure to have Ryan Floyd on the VC Hunting show. It was immediately apparent that we shared many similarities, mostly because he comes from a sales/marketing background! I love the thrill of the hunt, the thrill of selling and communicating what I know to those around me. It’s clear that Ryan is a master at that as well.
With this context in place, it can be readily assumed that Ryan got into the venture game through his sales experience, and with some strokes of luck, he was not only a sales person, but he was in a company that went public back in the late 90s and sold in the early 2000s. Giving him the experience he needed, he saw a real distinct opportunity to help early stage startups and jumped right in!
Storm Ventures emerged in 2000 as a response to the call to help other founders create great businesses and as he said, he couldn’t have been luckier. We all remember the dot-com crash and the internet-bubble. One could wonder, was early 2000 the best time to raise capital? Did anyone actually have any money left? Luckily for Ryan, people did, and he put it to use wisely:
“When we raised the fund in early 2000, we raised it when people were still flush with cash and by March 2001 it was all over, and then 9/11 happened… if we had raised 2 years earlier, we would have invested in a lot of terrible companies, and would have lost a lot of money. The timing really is quite remarkable.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
I, for one, completely understand this. When it comes to startups, so much is about the timing, things you cannot completely control. There is some magic in that, not that it takes away from any of the value of one’s accomplishments, but it allows one to stay humble and know that (many) different variables all had to converge at exactly the right time for success to even have a chance. I was refreshed by Ryan’s candor about the timing and the luck.
Pivoting our conversation a bit, I asked him how venture capital has changed in the last 20 years. What Ryan appreciates now is that there are so many more ideas and opportunities to invest. New markets, new segments, an in pretty much any industry one can think of! He also appreciates that venture capital is more widely available beyond just the good-old-boy clubs that venture used-to-be… however one could make a pretty solid argument that not too much has changed in this regard, there are simply just more VCs out there now that make the investment-clubs less saturated.
“It used to be a very small group of people who used to club-up these deals. The ability for entrepreneurs to get in front of more venture firms has really changed. Entrepreneurs also understand venture better. It’s not some mysterious thing, and there is a lot of content out there, like VC Hunting, that have helped them get access to funds.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
So how does Storm Ventures do things differently today? – While not ridiculously unique, they have chosen a thesis in the early-stage B2B enterprise SaaS, cloud, and infrastructure world. This isn’t irregular as there needs to be segmentation of types of companies that venture capitalists are willing to invest in, based on their experience and expertise.
What does make Ryan and Storm Ventures different is their assertiveness to not just invest in network-of-network:
“In a network where you’re only funding entrepreneurs or friends of friends, that can lead to a very insular funding strategy and not a broad portfolio. We are much more open to looking at new entrepreneurs who come into our sector and focus area.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
Being a prolific writer and (new Youtuber), I very much appreciated looking through some of Ryan’s video work and medium articles. I wanted to dig into his recent article on funding more women and diversity and I love that he’s spending time critically thinking about how to improve his portfolio by being intentional around seeking out investments that challenge him!
“I scream this from the rooftops. If you don’t back entrepreneurs who are thinking about diversity early on you are locking yourself into a limited pool of people you can hire… It’s not just about embracing diversity. It’s about building the best team for success.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
I’m glad I asked more questions about why diversity matters to Ryan, and I was super pumped that he was willing to share 2 reasons: personal and professional.
Being part of a multi-racial family has allowed Ryan to produce 3 wonderful teenagers (God help him) and he wonders what the world will be like for them as they grow up. Clearly considering his own legacy and how he can impact his children and the future they will inherit, diversity and opportunities start at home. I’m super encouraged that Ryan was willing to share this personal part of his journey as a venture capitalist. I always like to say that business change starts at home. Cleary, Ryan is doing great work at home and he has been able to bring that over to Storm Ventures as a real differentiator for them!
If you want to apply to Storm Ventures, you have to be in the B2B SaaS world. They just don’t do consumer apps. What I found fascinating was that Ryan holds an opinion that when it comes to B2B SaaS applications, VCs just aren’t as helpful in the early-pre-seed stage formation to find the elusive product market fit. Where Storm really shines is when there is some traction. Show them you have some traction, then you’ll be cooking with fire.
While the above may seem self-constraining. I do not. It’s important that venture capitalists thesis are tight, and that they stick to it. You don’t want your investors to be un-focused. Just as you as a founder cannot be un-focused. Focus is one of the many secrets to success!
“Product is an area that anyone can have an opinion about. It doesn’t mean that it’s an educated or informed opinion. That’s where I struggle with early companies because I’m not out there having conversations with their customers, and sometimes the founders will hear feedback that doesn’t make sense by people who don’t necessarily know it better than them.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
I like the conviction that Ryan has after nearly 20 years in the business. He knows what he’s great at and hones that craft!
“We at Storm Ventures have a thesis, we have a strategy to generate returns. In fact, we have even more conviction today than we did 10 years ago because we know it delivers returns. We’re just trying to make that even better as we move forward. It’s a mindset that we have and we’re much more focused and specialized today.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
Finally, I’m so happy that Ryan is stretching his legs and moving into the video space, a place I’m very much at home at. I love his desire to keep learning, to keep growing and to keep pushing himself in many new ways. I absolutely know that he’ll learn a ton through the Youtube-hard-knocks world that it can be. Even if most of the feedback he’s getting is from his kids who think he’s cringe! 🙂
Some great words from Ryan if any of you out there are looking to be a venture investor and content creator around investing:
“To me a venture investor, beyond being optimistic and having business discipline, you really have to be into learning. If you’re not, it’s just not a fun job. I’m constantly being put in positions where I’m not the expert and generating content and helping others through my content keeps me going.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
Finally I had to drop a bomb on Ryan, and he took it well. I had forgotten that it was in response to another person, but I wanted to see how Ryan would respond!
“Too often in society we take wealthy people’s opinions and we believe that they are smarter than everyone else. It’s really not a measure of a person. It has to be values, integrity, and the actions that a person takes in life.”Ryan Floyd – VC Hunting S1E8
Well said Ryan. Well said.
It was awesome speaking with Ryan on his experiences. I promise I’ll do a better job with the lighting next time! Enjoy my retrospective here:
All the best,
RYAN FLOYD SOCIAL MEDIA KIT!
Ya did a fine job takin’ down that bird. Maybe I was wrong about you hunters up in that lodge. Clearly ya know what you’re doin’. I’d be happy to hunt by your side again, as long as you’re huntin’ big game!