Periodically, we feature a member from our Team to provide a behind the scenes look at the people that make it all happen at the firm.
Featured This Month:
Max Chapman – Investor
What is your focus at Sierra Ventures?
As an Investor, my primary focus is to support and partner with ambitious founders tackling problems in massive markets. I work with entrepreneurs building companies within Health Tech, Enterprise Software, FinTech, and E-Commerce. However I don’t limit myself to these areas and always love exposure to emerging technologies.
How did you get into Venture Capital?
I’ve always been passionate about tech and investing. After working at a startup, I was offered a role at a Singaporean-based VC fund and eventually transitioned to their San Francisco office. Having grown up in Sydney, Australia, there was always an appeal to working in Silicon Valley. Three years later I’m still here and still loving the opportunity to work closely with brilliant founders and investors.
What 2-3 sectors or trends are you excited about right now?
- Healthcare. I’ve always been interested in all things Healthcare. A current Healthcare trend I find exciting is the shift of the clinic moving into the home with advances in telemedicine platforms, health tracking wearables and devices, and personal health testing kits. We’re seeing new healthcare delivery models emerge as consumers become more comfortable managing their own health and technology enabling more personalized and preventative Healthcare products.
- Supply Chain Tech & E-Commerce. We’ve seen compounding factors like covid, the rise of E-Commerce, labor shortages, and global trade tensions break what was already a very fragmented and antiquated global supply chain. Companies are now building new digital infrastructure for supply chain logistics which will open up a range of services and products within FinTech, E-Commerce, and IoT. These advancements will enable online retailers and SMBs to scale their business quicker and more cost effectively.
- The Globalization of Venture Capital. The access to, and proliferation of, VC funding has increased dramatically, turning venture capital into a truly global industry. This has allowed founders to build regional and cultural-specific products and tackle world-wide problems from wherever they are based. Investors are now looking for the best founders regardless of where they live. As an Aussie, it’s been awesome to see how the Australian tech ecosystem has grown and flourished over the past 5 years with the help of both local and international VCs, and Australia is just one of many tech ecosystems that is rapidly accelerating and competing on the global stage.
What are the top three things you think about when looking at a potential investment?
At the early stage, the majority of the bet is on the founders – their ability to attract and retain talent, gather investors and advisors around the table, their hustle, their humility, and their vision for the company.
Beyond that I look to understand:
- Market dynamics and what a big business looks like in their sector – i.e. the path to becoming a billion dollar company.
- The early indicators that validate a customer’s love for the product.
- Repeatability in being able to scale their business – asking how founders can achieve growth and scale in the most efficient and economical way possible.
What are three pieces of advice you have for entrepreneurs?
- Hire well early and surround yourself with good people. Hire people that believe in your vision and are smarter than you. Seek out advisors that can be your sounding board and who also have your best interests at heart.
- Push doors open and always come prepared.
- If you’re building a company, build something you really care about.
If you had to recommend one book to an entrepreneur what would it be?
One of the most formative books I’ve read is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. It has helped shape how I perceive and understand technology, its impact on culture and society, and society’s influence on new technologies that are adopted. We are at a point where tech is incredibly pervasive, so it’s important to understand how to direct it and foster the right type of innovation.
What is your best “life-hack”?
Ask questions and always arrive at least 5 minutes early!
Our Managing Directors and Partners have years of experience growing businesses of all sizes not just as investors, but as entrepreneurs and operational executives in charge of engineering, finance, marketing, and operations. The seasoned leaders on our Operating Team provide high touch support through business development, strategy, and partner relations and are always finding opportunities to help our portfolio companies grow and scale. Additionally, our broader network and members on our CXO Advisory Board act as an extension of our team, providing valuable guidance and insights into the Enterprise.