Interview With Susan Moring
Fund / GroupCortado Ventures
LocationOklahoma City, OK
Number of portfolio companies23
Focus AreasEnergy, Aerospace, Supply Chain/Logistics, Fintech, Healthcare
Stage(s)Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A
HOW AND WHY DID YOU GET STARTED IN PRIVATE INVESTING?
Before making the jump to venture investing, I had been working closely with startups in my region for years, teaching workshops on startup methodologies and human-centered design, doing deep-dive consulting projects helping companies with customer discovery, product roadmaps, fundraising strategies, and more. I also ran Oklahoma’s first coding bootcamp and was involved with national programs like 1 Million Cups and Techstars Startup Weekend. For me, it was all about seeing as many startups as possible to build a strong network and get experience evaluating companies and products. From there it was a pretty smooth transition into the world of venture. Oklahoma is a historically underserved region when it comes to venture capital funding, so when Cortado Ventures launched it felt like an exciting time to make the jump to venture.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU VALUE IN AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY?
A founder who I am excited to work with for the next decade and who I believe in. Specific founder signals for me are if they deeply understand their customers, are action-oriented almost to a fault, and have a demonstrated willingness and ability to pivot as needed.
WHAT ARE THE BEST INNOVATION THEMES THAT YOU SEE IN THE MARKET TODAY?
For our fund specifically, some of the most exciting companies we’re seeing are those bringing cutting edge tech to legacy industries like manufacturing, supply chain, transportation, aerospace, etc. Within these sectors there is significant opportunity to build something that’s a 10X improvement over the way they currently do things.
BEYOND ECONOMIC RETURN, WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE WITH YOUR PORTFOLIO?
Accelerating the startup and investment ecosystem for the mid-continent. Our region is behind in both startup activity and venture investment. For Oklahoma specifically, I see tech as a path to economic diversification and higher paying jobs/more opportunities for our citizens.
WHAT ARE THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES OR PAIN POINTS IN MANAGING YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PRIVATE INVESTMENT ACTIVITY?
Being a generalist investor, we rely heavily on external experts and KOLs (often from our LP base) to help us evaluate deals. I think this is a great strategy for a firm like ours but it’s also incredibly time-intensive and not the smoothest workflow. I’m constantly thinking about ways to structure and automate the way we do this to be able to get faster feedback from experts so we can get faster responses to entrepreneurs.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST INVESTMENT LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED AND/OR THE BIGGEST INVESTMENT MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE?
It is pretty early (fund <2 yrs old), but we have continuously learned things that led us to iterate on our thesis and investment process. I’m sure there are plenty of things we would go back and do differently if we could. One thing would be spending enough time with the target company to fully understand their team dynamics. You can get really excited about a great founder/product/market, but overlook the fact that the other team members don’t work well together, incentives are misaligned, or there is an existing exec or board member that’s holding a team back in some way.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE INDUSTRY INFORMATION SOURCES AND/OR SERVICES?
ConfluenceVC is a great network of folks across the country in venture-related roles who are willing to share resources and best practices. For news and industry trends, Twitter is my go to. We invest pretty early, so often the companies we’re looking at don’t have data on Pitchbook, Crunchbase, etc.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NON-BUSINESS INTEREST OR HOBBY?
I’ve always loved making physical things, and in the last 3 years or so I’ve gotten really into fiber arts. I dabble in weaving, macrame, locker hooking, and even set up a small Etsy operation a couple of years ago. Other hobbies include travel, gardening, and music – I’m a classically trained pianist and still try to play as much as I can.
PLEASE LEAVE US A BOOK RECOMMENDATION (BUSINESS OR OTHERWISE).
A professional recommendation - Barbara Minto’s The Pyramid Principle is a game changer for people in any field looking to better communicate complex ideas. A fun recommendation – Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary is probably my favorite fiction read of the last year.
WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THE PRIVATE MARKET OVERALL?
We are actively deploying capital from our first fund and raising capital for our second fund, so we are obviously pretty bullish. For investors who stick to their guns and didn’t fall victim to the inflated valuations of the last couple of years, I think there is a lot to be excited about. There’s significant opportunity in the mid-continent that is currently underserved and is reasonably priced. We’re excited to capture more of it!