Responding to a popular request, we are now sharing transcripts of our investor podcast interviews in this new series. The following interview with Fika Ventures was recorded in December 2017. Eva Ho, General Partner at Fika Ventures, discusses their investment thesis.
Sramana Mitra: Tell us about the focus of the fund. How big is it? What are you focusing on? What size investments are you making?
Eva Ho: We launched Fika Ventures in February 2017. I came from another fund that I co-founded. This is my second fund. It’s a $40 million fund. It’s based in Los Angeles. We make investments in California and also other markets like New York, Boston, and other places where we find interesting founders. We work mostly in enterprise software with B2B companies with a very heavy lens on data-oriented companies.
Sramana Mitra: What size investments do you like to make?
Eva Ho: We’re a pure seed investor. Right now, seed can be broken down to pre-seed, seed, and post-seed. Majority of our investments are in seed. We’ve done a couple of pre-seeds with repeat founders. Our check sizes range from $500,000 to $1 million. We lead most of our investments, but we also enjoy having other people around the table who can add value. We can often like to co-lead as well as to be part of a syndicate.
Sramana Mitra: Talk to us about your current portfolio just to give us a feel for what kind of companies you have invested in. How did you decide to invest in these companies? Take us a bit through the process of how you’ve thought about the investment that you’ve made so far.
Eva Ho: Maybe I’ll take one step back and talk about what we learned this year. We’ve looked at over 1,500 investments. Our team is a team of four. We ended up making investments in less than 1% of the companies. We’ve made about a dozen investments. Not all of them are on our website. If you look at the individual investment, you’ll notice that there’s a bit of a trend.
We like to focus on companies and founders that are trying to solve problems in helping antiquated industries become digital. We are looking at platform companies in applying machine learning as well as data to solve some of these issues. Some of the funds today are definitely pitched with ML and data angles. We might all sound a bit similar but I have a long history in data.
I co-founded a company called Factual where we’re building AWS with data as well as one of the early employees at Applied Semantics, which is the company behind Accent. We sold that to Google in 2003. I was with Google for several years. We’ve always had a strong thesis that some combination of the ability to store, use, and process more data combined with more sophisticated algorithms will be able to solve and automate a lot of interesting industries. We’ve made bets on some of the industries and have shied away from some others.
We really like legal tech. We made two investments in legal tech – SimpleLegal and CaseTax. We continue to do that through Fika. We invested in FairClaims which is an online arbitration legal disputes platform. They help third-party marketplaces resolve consumer disputes, which is really interesting. We made another investment in a company called LeeCare which is around day care which is solving the imbalance of supply of available early childhood education with the needs of parents and children. That’s a very interesting investment.
We’ve made an investment in a company called PullRequest in Austin that focuses on code review as a service. We co-invested with Gradient from Google. It’s a lot of these un-sexy industries.
Sramana Mitra: I like that a lot.
Eva Ho: It’s a little bit unique.