Interview With Paul Nolde
Fund / GroupRiverflow Growth Fund
Number of portfolio companies1
Focus AreasHealth and Wellness
Focus GeographiesVirginia, broader Mid-Atlantic
Stage(s)Early to Late Seed
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET STARTED IN PRIVATE INVESTING?
As a former retail and small business banker, and later wealth manager, I developed an admiration for, and curiosity in, founders scaling and exiting high growth companies. Why do they do it? How do they build a culture? When I left banking and ran a small family office making angel and seed stage investments, my interest extended into the dynamic between founders and funders. I enjoyed the non-linear approach of early stage, private equity investing vs. the more rigid, institutionalized practice of lending. At the end of the day, however, my good fortune to be doing what I do can be attributed to being at the right place, at the right time, knowing the right people.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU VALUE IN AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY?
Does the product or service (and associated industry / market) truly interest me? Obviously “team” and “size of market” are practically two of the most important criteria atthe seed stage, but I have to have a sincere interest in what I’m spending my time and money on...it has to “get me up in the morning” and instill a sense of sustained curiosity and excitement of what’s to come.
WHAT ARE THE BEST INNOVATION THEMES THAT YOU SEE IN THE MARKET TODAY?
Telehealth, reimagining the workplace, supply chain management, edtech, pharmatech
BEYOND ECONOMIC RETURN, WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE WITH YOUR PORTFOLIO?
Bring greater awareness to the burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystems across Virginia, and catalyze more early stage investing in this region.
WHAT ARE THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES OR PAIN POINTS IN MANAGING YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PRIVATE INVESTMENT ACTIVITY?
Balancing the priorities of fundraising for the fund and maintaining a robust diligence cadence to uncover those “1 out of 100” investable opportunities.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST INVESTMENT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AND/OR THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE?
Replacing a founding CEO at a later stage (typically Series A or later) for perfectly reasonable and company-first reasons is especially difficult when you’ve “been in the trenches” with that person for years, and have a mutual respect for each other.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE INDUSTRY INFORMATION SOURCES AND/OR SERVICES?
Google (!), MedCity News (health), AVC (Fred Wilson’s blog), StrictlyVC, Venture Pulse
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NON-BUSINESS INTEREST OR HOBBY?
PLEASE LEAVE US A BOOK RECOMMENDATION (BUSINESS OR OTHERWISE).
The Shadow in the Wind
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE PRIVATE MARKET OVERALL?