My guest for Ep150 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was the Co-founder & Partner at Blackbird Ventures, Rick Baker.
Blackbird is one of, if not the leading Venture Capital Fund in Australia.
Since launching in 2012, Blackbird has raised 4 funds for a combined committed capital of $1.24B with an astonishing net internal rate of return of 46.7% for every dollar invested as of June 30, 2020.
Their portfolio includes some of Australia’s most iconic companies such as Culture Amp, Safety Culture and Canva where they own 14% ownership stake, which is by far the largest of any external investor.
The overall success of their first fund led them to selling 40% of their fund 1 for $100M, providing a 3x return to all of their LPs.
In this interview we discussed:
The story behind Blackbird’s first fund
Why Blackbird has a unique rule in backing in only backing founders who are not looking for exits
How Blackbird’s internal culture and curiosity led to investments in the future of food, space and autonomous vehicles
The thinking behind Blackbird’s decision to sell 40% of their first fund for $100M
When and how to reach out to Blackbird for investment
& much more!
3.03 – Intro to Rick Baker and his background
6.07 – How Rick got connected to his co-founder Niki and they started Blackbird
8.16 – Starting Blackbird during a time when VC was dying in Australia
11.10 – Early days of Blackbird and not paying themselves for the first 18 months
11.53 – What Blackbird looks for in founders and experience working with Baraja
16.00 – Blackbirds goal to be more than just a financial fund by offering connections and other support
17.58 – Blackbirds no exits rule and why they have it
21.53 – Shift in founders ambition in Australia since the growth of the startup industry
23.12 – Why Blackbird is selling off part of their Fund 1
26.53 – How Blackbird helps founders to stay motivated, engaged and involved in the business
29.27 – Supporting founders through difficult times
32.50 – The importance of giving constructive feedback
35.14 – Building the Blackbird team and the importance of having a solid team for the growth and success of the company
39.24 – Choosing what to invest in and how those decisions have changed from the beginning of Blackbird
41.30 – Maintaining company culture as a team grows
43.50 – Defining the culture at Blackbird
45.23 – Looking for opportunities and Blackbirds’ choice to invest in new industries and technologies
49.12 – When is the right time to pitch Blackbird and why it’s never too early
51.53 – The importance of social proof and the ability to bring people on your journey as a founder
53.49 – Getting investment from Blackbird or joining the Startmate Accelerator
56.22 – What Blackbird are looking for in new and future investments
59.45 – Where Blackbird is going next
1.02.04 – How to get in contact with Rick and Blackbird