The Startup Playbook

Connecting you to the best entrepreneurs, investors and resources from around the world

Ep156 – Matt Browne (Co-founder & Managing Partner – Black Nova VC) on the rise of Founder VCs

My guest for Ep156 of The Startup Playbook Podcast was Matt Browne, the Co-founder & Managing Partner of Black Nova Ventures.

Prior to becoming a VC, Matt was the Co-founder and CEO of DoneSafe, a cloud based safety platform that grew to over 1.5M paying users before being acquired by HSI in 2020.

He also Co-founded Whispli, a Y-Combinator alumni SaaS startup that provides a whistleblowing platform for clients such as Qantas, Westpac and Oxfam.

Now, alongside being one of the founding members of Upflowy, Matt is also the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Black Nova Ventures. A $20M early-stage VC fund built for B2B technology startups.

Despite only recently announcing the launch their fund, they have already made 23 investments to date.

In this interview we discussed a range of topics including:

  • Matt’s journey in launching, scaling and eventually exiting DoneSafe
  • Dealing with co-founder breakups
  • How to build investor conviction for pre-revenue or pre-product startups
  • The rise of the Founder VCs 
  • & much more!


  • 2.24 – Matts career journey from starting a business as a teenager to starting Black Nova Ventures 
  • 5.22 – Matt’s early interest in business and how side hustles can fuel a future passion for startups 
  • 7.59 – The decision to go full time at Donesafe 
  • 10.27 – Matt’s Financial advice for businesses and the way raising has changed since he first started 
  • 12.55 – What Black Nova looks for in founding teams and how they support founders to be more secure financially
  • 14.58 – Finding the right co-founder and managing when a co-founder leaves the business
  • 20.02 – Managing the process when a partner leaves and the importance of having empathy in the situation
  • 22.42 – The process of getting acquired and how the first acquisition of Donesafe fell through in the final hour 
  • 27.22 – How a company changes post-acquisition and how to decide whether you will stay or leave 
  • 28.51 – Working with good people and Matt’s decision to work with his co-founder Darcy
  • 32.05 – Black Nova’s structure and how they manage their funds
  • 34.23 – Why Black Nova focuses on supporting founders and businesses they invest in rather than just funding them
  • 36.57 – Why Matt likes to be hands-on when supporting the businesses they have invested in
  • 39.20 – What Black Nova looks to invest in and why they like to be very early investors
  • 40.57 – What Matt looks for in founders when making investment decisions
  • 42.55 – The importance of focusing on what you’re good at and trusting others with what they’re good at 
  • 45.38 – How starting your first business can be very humbling 
  • 48.05 – Thriving in the US and global market compared to Australia 
  • 50.01 – How to get in contact with Matt 

Links Mentioned 

Matt’s Links 

Companies Mentioned 

People Mentioned 

Past Episodes Mentioned 

Special Thanks:

Special thanks to Darcy Naunton and Matt Allen for their help with research for this interview! ?

Feedback/connect/say hello:
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/rohbhargava (LinkedIn)
@rohit_bhargava (Instagram)
My Youtube Channel


Music: Joakim Karud – Dreams

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