Based in London and NYC, TVC is a transformational, early-stage venture firm backed by world class entrepreneurs and business leaders, investing capital, time, and network into fast-growing companies with global potential for huge, positive impact.
Partner Interview with Cat Hernandez:
What career decisions have most greatly contributed to your success to-date?
By way of background, I spent the better part of a decade operating in Seed to Series B environments before moving into venture, somewhat accidentally, nearly six years ago. That experience, above all else, has shaped how I show up as an early stage investor to the founders I am fortunate enough to back at The Venture Collective (TVC). It pushes me to operate from a place of deep respect and empathy for the founder journey; and I believe that will contribute greatly to the success of TVC long-term.
TVC is working to improve the “Valley of Death” by providing capital and resources to underrepresented founders at the earliest stages of company building; why do you believe in this approach and how will you measure success?
Founders now, more than ever, recognize that creating exponential value in a short period of time cannot be done alone. 2020 has pushed us towards democratizing access to capital and networks and, while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I think those macro shifts are here to stay.
At TVC, we are committed to being part of the solution by investing in founders of all kinds and delivering the right type of value-add to people who want to change the world. Portfolio impact is not about checking boxes. It’s about aligning our pre-investment and post-investment strategy to help more companies succeed, increase the number of shots on goal, and ultimately achieve better financial returns. If you do it thoughtfully, being hands-on is all about creating points of leverage for the founder and for yourself as an investor.
What is it about The Venture Collective’s mission and vision that gets you out of bed in the morning as a partner and founding team member? Have your personal career goals changed since founding TVC?
It’s easy to be passionate about finding ways to leave a positive legacy. Day in and day out, I feel fortunate to work with an exceptional team that is focused on backing the next generation of founders who will, in fact, change the world for the better. We are committed to building one of the most diverse portfolios in the market because it’s not only necessary for societal advancement, but plain, old great for business.
On a personal level, I have always been focused on helping people thrive personally and professionally despite my official job title. That has not changed. As a funder, I endeavor to be a high-conviction partner that will help some of the best diverse founders in the world build companies that leave a positive mark on the world. That certainly doesn’t mean we will always agree on the path forward, but it does mean choosing a partner who will play the role of confidant, challenger, or advisor depending on what’s best for the company
TVC has made many successful investments in various startups ranging from a neuroanalytics company that measures emotion and attention to optimize advertising and entertainment to a company using tissue engineering to produce slaughter-free, real luxury leather. What are the typical areas of focus when making investment decisions?
We get super excited about founders who are passionate about caring for the planet, improving quality of life, empowering the individual, and extending access for all, but especially the underserved. As a Pre-Seed and Seed-focused firm, it all comes down to people. In practice that means getting to know founders deeply while also digging into market size, founder/market fit, product, and early go-to market strategies. At TVC, we have carefully designed a diligence process that balances the need for thoroughness while keeping the founder experience top of mind at all times.
How has the current pandemic positively or negatively affected your business? Have any unexpected challenges or adjustments been presented? Have you learned any lessons through these experiences?
While incredibly challenging in many respects, 2020 was net-positive for TVC. We hired our core team of 7, built a powerful, curated community of 100 members and counting called “The Collective”, and invested in 14 companies across the US and Europe. We feel fortunate to be in a position to double down on these early moves because we’re seeing a lot of opportunity to invest in companies building in the three thematic areas we care about – world preservation, human empowerment, and life improvement. Last year demonstrated the varying layers of palpable inequity in today’s society and we want to be part of fixing that.
Cat is a people first investor, former operator, and accidental work therapist.
Cat spent a decade operating in early stage startups before joining the Primary Ventures partnership where she played a critical role in shaping the firm’s post-investment approach for the better part of five years. Today, she is an investment partner and founding team member at The Venture Collective (TVC), a transformational, early stage venture business that is on a mission to bridge the funding gap for underrepresented founders. In her spare time, Cat also works closely with PeopleTech Partners, NYC BLEND, and the 1k Project. If you’d like to get in touch, she is @catmhernandez on all the social networks.