Q&A With New Seed Stage VC Loup Ventures

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Loup Ventures is a new local seed stage technology investment fund led by longtime Apple analyst from Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster. Together with partners Andrew Murphy and Douglas Clinton, the trio has recently left the safety of their previous posts for the bold business of venture capital.

Despite not having a full $20m fund in hand, Loup has began to invest what money they do have, notably into Boston VR/BCI startup Neurable in late December. We connected to learn more about what’s in store:

How did you three meet?

Gene: We’ve all worked together…Andrew and I worked together for 5 years at Piper, and Doug joined 8 years ago. So we’ve been covering technology and the Internet more broadly. Andrew left Ecolab in September, then Doug and I left Piper in December.

When and how did the idea for Loup first begin?

Gene: I’ve been thinking about something like this for a few years now and it’s just grown over time to become our reality now. It’s core to who we are with our research analyst past yet I think we all bring something slightly different to the table.

We’re all giving up jobs that were relatively safe compared to the business of venture capital because this is a much bigger opportunity and we think the four areas of our focus will forever change humanity.

Andrew, what were you doing with Ecolab after Piper?

Andrew: I’ve been marketing in Ecolab’s healthcare division was excited to get back into tech when this opportunity came up.

What are the areas of interest and why?

Doug: We think about it 5-10 years out and then 10+ years. In that shorter term, AI and Robotics show the greatest likelyhood of growth.  AR/VR is somewhere in the middle to the long term, probably the biggest opportunity in the long run.

Look back to the 90’s at the Internet and the 2000’s in mobile. Both of those were stratospheric growth in 10 years. We think that VR/AR and some combination of AI will experience a similar trajectory over the next decare.

On the topic of money, the core of your business, what is the fund status?

Gene: we are raising a small fund of which Piper Jaffray is our lead strategic investor.

Loup Ventures has already invested in at least one company, very recently, are there more?

Andrew: We are looking closely at our second deal in AI space for retailers.

What was it about Neurable that you liked?

Doug: A good level of IP defensibility, the founder is an expert in his field, and from a technical standpoint they are solving a serious interface issue using BCI.

What is your take on leading, following, and general investment amounts?

Gene: Given that we are doing a small fund, most of the time we will syndicate and not lead, just by nature. In terms of check sizes, we’re looking at amounts in the few hundred thousands and targeting a portfolio of 35 companies.  Our focus is seed stage companies, likely either pre-revenue or with minimal revenues.

How about your geography, the fund is between Minneapolis and New York City, correct?

Doug:  Our investment focus is national. I’m in New York, Andrew and Gene will be headquartered in Minneapolis, and we’ll all be in San Francisco a lot.

What do your individual roles entail?

Gene: I am leading fundraising and contributing to research.

Andrew: I am leading the research and distribution.

Doug: I am leading the portfolio assembly and discovery.

How does resarch fit with your strategy differently from other VCs? 

Andrew: I think the research is what we do best, first and foremost.  It will also establish our thought leadership in these spaces.  It’s just how we work and think, it’s in our blood.

Gene: The types of research you’ll see from Loup will cover small and large companies.

How do you intend to interact with entrepreneurs?

Andrew: pitch@loupventures.com, we have a space in Uptown, and we’re traveling around all the time.

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