The seed from which Mucker grew came forth from the ripples of the Great Recession
As the rest of the tech world flooded toward Silicon Valley in search of
millions billions, we left the figurative birthplace of our professional careers in search of affirmation outside the Valley. Affirmation that what we learned, how we cut our teeth, and the ethos we espouse are universal truths unencumbered by location; that without the support systems and the rising tide of the Valley, we can still build great products, win customers, and launch incredible companies. The questions we asked ourselves were: Are we good enough? Can we prove the naysayers wrong? Can we beat the system?
Delusional or otherwise, we believed that we were and that we could. And ultimately, we did.
As much as we like to think we are special, our experiences outside the Valley helped us internalize the notion that it’s only a matter of time before the Valley’s original stranglehold on “entrepreneurship” will end. Chaos, entropy, free flow of knowledge, and humankind’s indomitable will to succeed will eventually level the playing field or create a whole new ballgame. We started Mucker in 2011 with unbridled optimism and a firm belief that THIS future was certain.
Los Angeles was our initial test bed. We took everything we learned in the preceding decades spent inside and outside the Valley and applied it to venture in L.A. in terms of how we invested in and worked with portfolio companies. We quickly realized that while the Valley had seemingly perfected a working model that’s extremely efficient for savvy members of its unique ecosystem, we needed to rethink our approach in order to succeed.
The Bay Area is a bubble
A bubble of cookie-cutter MBAs from the best schools. A bubble full of engineers trained at some of the most well-known internet companies. A world where even developers can spout mindless business-speak like a McKinsey and Co. consultant. Seemingly everyone in the Bay Area has a college roommate or cousin whose kid goes to the same preschool with Marc Andreessen’s daughter.
If venture capital is only about finding brands and checking boxes, Silicon Valley has to be the easiest place in the world to be a VC. For better or worse, everyone has multiple logos that they use to attract attention from eager VCs. Looking for a Stanford alum who has worked as a Facebook GPM, been on the Forbes "15 under 15”, and babysat for Steve Jobs? A simple LinkedIn search will turn up more than 100 people.
We believe entrepreneurship should not be an exclusive profession reserved for the elites
Where you live, where you went to school, and who your friends are should have zero impact on whether you deserve to be a founder. Are you humble? Do you work hard? Are you persistent? Do you have a unique insight that drives your vision? Can you execute with speed and precision? Are you smart? Those are the underlying qualities of a great entrepreneur.
While you DO need to be special to be a successful entrepreneur, you DON'T have to have a degree from Stanford or Harvard, you don’t have to go to swanky networking parties, you don’t have to speak the same as everyone else, and most importantly, you don’t have to look — or even think — like us. The logos? That’s just for lazy VCs who can't see past their own biases.
Blue Collar VC
Eight years and 4 funds later, we have found what works for us and for our entrepreneurs. Over the last two years, we naturally started investing more and more outside of California. Perhaps we know what to look for in entrepreneurs outside the Valley and understand how to relate to them better. And perhaps those entrepreneurs found that we understand the journey outside the Valley is wholly different — sometimes harder, oftentimes contrarian, always more rewarding and authentic.
Looking back, it is clear to us that our founders don’t fit the typical Bay Area founder profile, because they aren’t. Our founders hail from across the U.S. and from all corners of the globe. They have graduated from schools you’ve heard of, and others that have never been touched by a single ivy leaf. They are not bound together by alma mater or social class, but instead by a mutual respect for the grit that delivered them to where they are today.
In the world of seed capital, the entrepreneur and their working relationship with VCs is everything. We know there are great entrepreneurs out there, and going forward, we’re going to look even harder to find them in unconventional places. We are casting our net farther from our home shore in L.A. than we’ve ever done before in a quest to find the next great group of ideas and founders. We know we invest differently than our friends up north.
We believe our approach is better suited for entrepreneurs who come from outside the Silicon Valley bubble, and we’re going to prove that Mucker is venture capital for the rest of us.
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P.S. If you are interested in the evolution of Mucker, here are some posts from our past as we grew and raised a new fund.
2016: Blue Collar VC