Venture Capital/Opinion/

Dispatches from a London VC: The secret source for deals… dating apps

Are dating apps the ultimate data-driven sourcing tool for VCs?

Rosie Wood

By Rosie Wood

Rosie Wood is a (fictional) associate at the VC firm Mild Conviction. It’s a generalist, multistage fund with offices in London, Paris and Verbier. They’re not like normal VCs — they don’t need to do a ton of due diligence to decide on an investment. Instead, they’re simply looking for companies and founders that are pretty good. Because pretty good is usually good enough. Catch up on her first and second dispatches here.

*** 

A bit of sad, personal news: my longtime boyfriend and I have broken up. He was still living in Plymouth and working at my previous company where he was employee number five (along with his dog Elon). Given how much I was working on weekends and at night, long-distance just wasn’t going to work between us. I hear that the company is going to SPAC soon so I really wish the best for him and Elon. 

Post-breakup, my London friends recommended I get on “the apps” immediately. So I turned to Mild Conviction’s data-driven sourcing platform, DealSensei, for some app download data to figure out which were the fastest growing. One, Jessica, had download growth of 100% week-on-week for the past three months. The slick website, featuring photos of beautiful women at Burning Man who all definitely could have been named Jessica, said it was a “members-only community for the curious wanderlusters, the career bungee jumpers, the shadow 30U30 and the dreamers changing tomorrow’s game today”.

I signed up immediately. 

The first guy I matched with took me to Gold in Notting Hill for drinks. I learned he is a foodie that went to Durham and loves the Arctic Monkeys — but most importantly that he’s building a subscription sparkling water company called FizzDrop. We didn’t have much romantic chemistry, but his company sounded interesting. I invited him to pitch to MC. 

After the pitch (which went really well), the partners asked where I had found the deal. I explained a bit sheepishly that I had met him on a dating app. 

“With his educational background, he would have never gotten on our radar,” said our partner Alex, who heads up our Oxbridge and MBA sourcing. “But he’s a pretty good founder. I feel like there’s an opportunity here for Rosie to do some innovative sourcing.” 

That’s how I became in charge of “apps” sourcing. While more VCs are using data to find companies, I’m pretty sure no one is looking at this dataset. 

It seems like every guy between 27 and 35 in London is looking for love and also VC funding. They’re all on the apps, and they all might be a perfect match for MC. 

There was Chad T, who was building Smoogle, an odourtech company specialising in human identification and cybersecurity. There was Chad M, who was building a blockchain-based tracking device for factory workers. And there was Matt, using AI and intelligent algorithms to digitally replicate the spontaneous watercooler chat experience for remote teams. In total, I brought in 25 founders to pitch. 

I was hard at work on driverless tour bus research one night when our associate Fred pinged me on Slack with a note and a link to a tweet by our managing partner/CEO, Rupert, a prolific tweeter. 

The man himself is talking about us! I’m ‘98 btw, what are you? 🤩

Rupert’s tweet read: Gen Z is going to completely change the game for VC sourcing whether we like it or not. They’ve got an eye for networks like no one else and that’s why I’m hiring them #secretsauce 

It seemed pretty clear that Rupert was talking about me and not Fred, who only talks to his dad’s friends who are angel investors and spends too much time on his Peloton. But I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I sent back: 🙏💪🚀

The Rupert tweet made me so proud. I was actually providing value to the team. I was actually meeting some fairly exciting founders. 

That is, until I logged on to one of the “apps” and matched with the associate from our rival fund, Rocket Thrust…

Anyone with any advice for how to deal with the competition impeding on your turf and your love life, please reach out at [email protected] or on Twitter @MildConviction. 

And as always, let me know how I can be helpful, 

Rosie

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