Interview With Enrique Zambrano
NameEnrique Marceo Zambrano
Fund / GroupProeza Ventures
LocationHouston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico
Number of portfolio companies15
Focus AreasInvest across the whole value chain of mobility: Industrial Technologies, Smart Components, New Vehicles, MaaS, and Digital Data Services
Focus GeographiesNorth America, Latam, Europe and Israel
Stage(s)Late Seed and Series A
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET STARTED IN PRIVATE INVESTING?
I started private investing as an angel investor in 2012, just after finishing my MBA. I was seeing my fellow classmates start exciting companies and decided that I wanted to support and participate in their journeys. Plus, I saw a lot of potential in mobile, cloud, and other trends taking off during that time.
On a full-time basis, I joined Proeza Ventures in mid-2019.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU VALUE IN AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY?
TEAM. When investing in a company as a VC and angel investor, especially when considering a more active role in the company, you have to understand that you are partnering with the team and will be working closely together for at least a few years. So, the first thing that comes to my mind, is whether I want to work with this team and whether I feel I can have a good working relationship with them. Then, I ask myself the following questions on the quality of the team:
- Do they have a strong vision, and can they communicate it clearly?
- How authentic to them is the problem they are solving?
- Have they been able to recruit top talent?
- Can they execute on their vision?
WHAT ARE THE BEST INNOVATION THEMES THAT YOU SEE IN THE MARKET TODAY?
Inside mobility, we are paying special attention to three particular spaces:
- New ownership models for vehicles, especially in Latam
- Both HW and SW powering the charging infrastructure for vehicles
- Warehouse tech & new fulfillment models.
BEYOND ECONOMIC RETURN, WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE WITH YOUR PORTFOLIO?
Our main focus is on truly transforming mobility. We want our companies to have a lasting legacy in creating a safer, more efficient, more sustainable and environmentally friendly world.
WHAT ARE THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES OR PAIN POINTS IN MANAGING YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PRIVATE INVESTMENT ACTIVITY?
Definitely, time management. Managing the amount of deal flow, number of meetings with startups, and involvement in boards can be a challenge.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST INVESTMENT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AND/OR THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE?
My biggest mistake was making an emotional investment decision rather than a purely rational one. In this particular case, I felt a current investor, which was leading a new round, was using the fact that the company had very little runway to secure a sweet deal for himself, by providing a low valuation for the company, and in the process diluting the rest of the investor base aggressively. In this case, I decided to invest over my pro-rata, ignoring the fact that there was a new management team in place and still a few things to figure out.
Lately, I have learned the discipline in having an important ownership stake (in relation to the size of the fund) in VC investing. Since the most likely scenario is that as a fund, you will have 2-3 successful investments, you want to make sure that each one of these investments will return at least your fund, and this will only be possible if you have a sufficient ownership stake in the company.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE INDUSTRY INFORMATION SOURCES AND/OR SERVICES?
There are a multitude of subject matter specific newsletters around mobility. One I like is The Micromobility Newsletter. It is a weekly newsletter that provides a comprehensive picture of the latest events on Micromobility (scooter, bikes, e-bikes and motorbikes), in an easy to read format
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NON-BUSINESS INTEREST OR HOBBY?
Playing sports; in particular, tennis and soccer. Although I don’t play as often as I would like.
PLEASE LEAVE US A BOOK RECOMMENDATION (BUSINESS OR OTHERWISE).
Last year I read a book called Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. This book basically helps the reader to make better decisions by considering probabilities for each given scenario and to stop thinking in a binary way. A key thing is separating outcomes from decisions. Sometimes good decisions lead to bad outcomes.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE PRIVATE MARKET OVERALL?
I believe in private markets in the long term, however, the market is currently crowded and valuations are high.