The No Cap Newsletter (017)
A bi-weekly newsletter ran by the RippleX Fellowship, covering key program learnings, industry news, and fellow spotlights.
💍 Big Rings
How does that one song go? I got a really big team, they need some really big rings.
The RippleX fellowship brings in founders and aspiring VCs to develop their skills in building startups and understanding the foundation of Venture Capital. The outstanding students that join each cohort come with a goal in mind and it’s absolutely amazing to see so many students go above and beyond to achieve them. Whether it’s to break into VC or raise capital for their company, it’s the sheer determination that continues to amaze us.
We’re proud to have so many amazing fellows and continue to support so many more going forward. Here are a few superstars we wanted to highlight:
Kaito Cunningham - $23 Million Series A Raise w/Utopia Labs
Vaneezeh Siddiqui - Investor @ Thomson Reuters Ventures
Maria Smith - Analyst @ Yaletown Partners
Godwin Chan - Analyst @ VU Venture Partners
Alexa Grabelle - Investor @ Bessemer Venture Partners
Jasmeen Raghubans - Analyst @ Framework Venture Partners
Kriti Baweja - Analyst @ BDC Women in Technolgy Venture Fund
Please note that these are just a few of many students that we could highlight in this edition and we’re excited to continue sharing more stories!
🛠 Opportunities in Data Versioning
If you didn’t already know, Ripple Ventures is an early-stage venture fund focused on enterprise software, developer tools, and web3 infrastructure & tooling. Within each vertical focus, our team conducts in-depth research on areas of interest to find the best companies to partner with. We’ve started a new blog series to share our internal research on categories that we’re actively investing in. To kick it off, here is our overview of Data Versioning.
The data tooling ecosystem has been a large focus across every company building software in the past years. As companies grow, they run into challenges with maintaining and scaling their databases as their existing infrastructure isn’t supporting their increased volume.
We believe that successful tools in space will be targeted point solutions rather than generalized software for a variety of use cases that can scale with companies.
Why We’re Excited:
Data versioning will become an embedded component in data storage systems which will log details related to how data is being used and how it is being changed.
Applications begin to be written to scale around the data that they are built upon, rather than building applications and fitting data into the schema dictated for the application to work.
Where We’re Cautious:
Data versioning may simply become a commodity of other end-user applications. It may become a prerequisite, built-in step of many data systems with minimal value-added overall as a standalone offering.
Data versioning becomes unimportant as most ML-powered applications will be derived from a handful of large pre-trained generalized models that are applied to several different domains effectively.
Our Market Observations:
MLOps: This is the services-based approach to managing machine learning developer systems. This can (but does not have to) include data versioning as a step within this process but it does require integrations with the databases systems and the CI/CD systems in real production settings.
Databases: These are the core central data repositories and storage mechanisms for data used in ML applications as well as other end-use cases. They are the backbone where data largely lives separate from core application logic/code.
CI/CD: The continuous integration and delivery tooling, along with the core code base versioning, are the primary mechanism that organizations can create standardization and scale for their development efforts.
Interested to dive deeper into our thematic research covering the industry drivers, market dynamics and more? Keep reading:
🖼 Startup Evaluation Frameworks
When it comes to assessing startups at the early stage, there are specific metrics that should be looked at starting off with the market, product and team.
These three factors combine to be the trifecta of evaluation frameworks for gauging the key value of the startup. Each one plays a strong factor as it will be able to clearly showcase both sides of the story that help to understand the startup’s ability to shine in the future.
Here, we want to see strong market dynamics. People must feel the pain today, it must hurt really damn bad, and ideally, they’re looking for something to take away that pain. They also must be able to pay for the painkiller.
Having strong market dynamics plays into being successful no matter how large it is. We like to see either large fragmented markets or smaller markets that have the exponential growth potential to become large.
In our eyes, the product is very important. We want to know that the team is able to build a solution to a problem that people love to use. Here, we dive deep into understanding how much the product solves, what’s defensible and sticky about it, and how it can evolve over time to serve even a larger user base.
The trick here is to be user-obsessed, building products that users are obsessed with.
Founders must be the people who understand the problem the deepest in the industry, are passionate enough to want to solve them for the next decade and are open to doing whatever it takes for this to succeed.
We look for teams that can build great products, are obsessed with users, and come from a unique background relevant to the industry they’re working in.
Putting it all together...
When all three come together strong, it becomes a very compelling case to invest in. When there is an apparent gap in any of these three pillars, it becomes hard to swallow the inherent risks that exist within the company. We stick to our thesis on investing in the above.
The lesson doesn’t stop here, there’s much more to cover! Take a peek into our course accessible to anyone:
💡 Fellow Spotlight
Calix Huang - Head of Labs at Fiveable
Navigating high school, extracurriculars and your passions/interests can be difficult enough - but there are always a few that completely surprise us. Before entering college, imagine if had the opportunity to build a startup that gets acquired, let alone two. Or perhaps work on innovative projects across various industries & teams?
Well, let us introduce you to Calix Huang, Head of Labs at Fiveable from cohort #9.
With past experiences ranging from numerous startups (UiGrowth, Hack+, etc.) and accelerators/venture funds (On Deck, GenZScouts, Spero Ventures, etc.) - Calix has proven to be an asset to any team. His previous startup, Hours was created to empower students to be more productive with visual tooling and a strong community. This led to an acquisition by Fiveable where you’ll currently find him leading the development of new products for their platform.
The story of this 17-year-old is definitely one you should check out. You can learn more about Calix in this interview where he shares his journey and learnings over the years. As well as this Techcrunch article diving into Fiveable’s acquisition of Hours. We’re excited for his next milestone in his entrepreneurial journey and wish him the very best!
Sponsored by Jeeves.
Interested in being featured? Looking to share exciting news? Please reach out to Turja at email@example.com. Authored by Turja Chowdhury (Cohort #9).