UP00J: getting into venture and startup ecosystems // a coffee chat with Monique Villa (ModernCapital)

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Monique Villa: 00:00:00

It’s sort of like novelists, whenever you read a book, you’re getting the benefit of someone’s life’s work that they’ve put into book form and I really think of founders that way, you know. Anytime I meet a founder, I’m absorbing the something that they’ve been working on for years or sometimes decades, sometimes longer than I’ve been alive and I just love diving into something and learning about a new industry and learning about a new way that this industry is being looked at by people who have been frankly, oftentimes can find by by the sort of traditional industry and see this opportunity of sort of what the world could become.

Jay Clouse: 00:00:42

Startup investment landscape is changing and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them. Welcome to upside. Hello. Hello. Hello and welcome to the upside podcast, the first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse and I’m accompanied by my co-host, Mr. Tasty Spreadsheets himself, Eric Hornung.

Eric Hornung: 00:01:22

Wooh! Tasty spreadsheets. I love a good tasty spreadsheet Jay. You know, I love to play in spreadsheets and general, but whenever I see a spreadsheet that you put together, I can’t help but go and just format it like crazy.

Jay Clouse: 00:01:37

I can’t help but make it much, much better. Yeah last night I was in our production spreadsheet checking out one of the tabs as I had an idea that was going to put in for a future editorial and I saw that you had completely reformatted that page and I thought, oh, what a guy.

Eric Hornung: 00:01:55

Well I just thought that rather than have a list, I thought it was better as a storyboard and the concept of storyboarding in excel looked pretty nice and so I just kind of laid it out there and now we got a little status dropdown. One of the biggest things in Excel that you can do just to like up your user-ability game, usability, user-ability I think usability.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:15

Usability.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:16

I think user-ability. So I want the users to be able to do something. So I’m. I’m changing the word a little bit is data validation, which is those dropdown lists game changing.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:27

You’ve taught me those. I know how to do those now.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:29

Really? I did teach you. Good for me. Look at that.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:31

Yeah. No, I learned from you and it’s useful. It’s useful in our. We now have a google alert set up for portfolio companies, so when they get into the news, we track that article and I used the data validation column so I can mark which company it is related to and then we can sort by the company’s

Eric Hornung: 00:02:49

Fantastic. So I love spreadsheets because you can lay out things very well. There’s a new software that I really want to learn that haven’t had the chance yet, but I’m hoping 2019 to make it a goal to learn air table 2019 is the year of the air table. 2019 is the year of the air table. I’ve heard nothing but great things and I think that it will be very beneficial for us and I really think that it’s one of those things that in venture capital you have to have some solid technical skills in excel and Powerpoint and word being able to write, read, speak, explain the numbers, saying dance, pretend oh, triple threat. Like our friend Rachel.

Jay Clouse: 00:03:26

Like our friend Rachel.

Eric Hornung: 00:03:27

There you go, and I think air table let you do those a lot more seamlessly than excel. So I’m always trying to build up the skill set that great venture capitalists have.

Jay Clouse: 00:03:39

That’s right. And speaking of venture capital, our guest today is Monique Vila. Monique is the founder of ModernCapital in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s also on the investment team for Mucker Capital, which is based in LA. Monique is living in Nashville and today she’s going to be speaking to us about her path getting into Venture Capital, beginning with working at a startup company, why venture capital is a space that she’s been interested in and continued working in and now what her role looks like as she’s sort of the southeast ambassador of mucker capital, looking for companies in the southeast which will define the boundaries of that to invest in aligning with our thesis of being outside of Silicon Valley. So I’m excited about this conversation with Monique.

Eric Hornung: 00:04:25

Tons of overlap here between us and Monique. I think I’m expecting, but I’m just really excited to hear kind of her path and now what she’s doing in the Southeast.

Jay Clouse: 00:04:37

That’s right. ModernCapital is a collective of creative thinkers from the private public and civic sectors shaping the modern economy is from their website. So excited to hear from Monique about ModernCapital, about her work at mucker about her path and getting up to Mucker. Eric .

Eric Hornung: 00:04:53

Let’s do it.

Jay Clouse: 00:04:58

Monique. Welcome to the show.

Monique Villa: 00:05:00

Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Eric Hornung: 00:05:01

That’s great. Having you here, Monique, we like to start with a question about the guest and your history. So can you tell us about the
history of Monique?

Monique Villa: 00:05:12

Well, start from the very beginning. No, I’m just kidding. So I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I moved here a year ago from la where I was an LA native, Long Beach, California to be exact and there were five of us natives running around La and then I left. So I kind of was one less person who’s who’s still there, but I, I visit frequently, but I’m really enjoying being a Nashvillian now, which is a way cooler title.

Jay Clouse: 00:05:41

Are you saying that there are only five born and raised in LA Long Beach and that it’s mostly tourists or what were you saying with that?

Monique Villa: 00:05:50

Not just long beach. All of LA LA natives. We would get really excited when bump into one another every every year. Say Oh really? You’re from here too and everyone is confused by you too. That’s great. Nice to meet you. See, I think I counted about five.

Jay Clouse: 00:06:08

Interesting. Okay. So what spurred the move to Nashville?

Monique Villa: 00:06:13

I love this question because when I moved here a year ago, that was what I was answering about 10 times a day. People would say, so what? Why are you here? What’s what’s going on and what, what inspired the move? So my husband’s a songwriter and I did a check in with him one day in LA and said, hey, how’s, how’s LA going? And he’s like, great, I’d love to check out Nashville one day. He really wanted to make sure that I loved it before we committed to moving across the country. And so I came for the first time in May of 2017 and it really was love at first sight. I fell in love with it. I was so excited to be here. It felt right to be here. And so we ended up progressing really quickly and bought a home and picked up and moved.

Eric Hornung: 00:06:58

What about it felt so right?

Monique Villa: 00:07:00

Yeah. So I think there’s some similarities being from LA in looking at Nashville. So Nashville has quite a few pockets and neighborhoods and it’s decentralized in that way. It’s not oriented around a single town square. And because of that you get lots of variety so you could, you could almost choke that there’s a neighborhood for every stage of your life if you wanted to move around. And because of that, I just always thought that there is something fun to do is it was relaxing, you know, I’m a sucker for really good coffee and food and yeah, it just all of the things. And so I saw that right away and people were so incredibly nice. People like you’ll hear that from anyone from Nashville who’s, who’s spent time in Nashville, they’ll say that everyone’s nice and they’re not looking for something from you other than just to be a nice person. So I think that’s something that is really unique.

Eric Hornung: 00:07:59

How’s that last part compared to LA?

Monique Villa: 00:08:01

So Nashville is decentralized in that there’s many neighborhoods across the city and each neighborhood has its own flavor and its own variety of things to do and people to talk to and it. It’s just one of those things where you can’t possibly get forward. It’s a big city and there’s something opening every single day it seems. I’m really just enjoying getting to know each and every corner of Nashville. It’s, it’s, it’s a great place to be.

Jay Clouse: 00:08:31

So right now you are the founder of ModernCapital and on the investment team for Mucker, which is based in La. I can’t imagine you started in VC. You had to get there somehow. So how did you find your way towards Venture Capital and investing?

Monique Villa: 00:08:47

Yeah, so I. It really started with an internship and in college I interned for Tom Shoes and took a quarter off of school and my parents thought I was absolutely out of my mind because they had never heard of the shoe company. It was 2008 and he said, why are you dropping out of college to work for a shoe company? And it’s like they’re so cool and they put shoes on kids’ feet and the mission just really landed with me. And so through that internship I ended up diving head first into operating within a startup and never once was asked to get coffee. It was just, hey, we’re going to launch this pop up store. We need an accounting and inventory system, or hey, we’re going to send five teams across the country to sell shoes. Let’s figure out how to run that. And from that I just really was bit by the startup bug for lack of a cooler way to describe that. And so after college I took a job at a digital entertainment startup consultancy and worked on BD and strategic partnerships for our clients. Very early stage companies, but most of the time they would come in pitch. We would say, no, that’s probably not going to be your business model and we’d help them find that product market fit. And from there I actually met my would be boss at an event in La and they were starting a first time fund and recruiting and they were looking for someone to build out investor relations but also to build out the firm. And so most people don’t realize that a VC is effectively a startup when it launches. And so I joined in month five and I brought with me these experiences, you know, in the weeds, working with startup that was scaling quickly and also helping to consult and advise early stage startups in a really fraught industry of entertainment. And when I got into Venture I didn’t really understand fully how affirm worked, but it was learning on the job as the best jobs are. And so I ended up doing everything from fundraising. So working closely with LP’s from all around the world, evolve sizes and and backgrounds and you know, onboarded those LP’s and then did everything from wiring money to companies to making sure that our company filed our taxes and our audit and, and everything else. So I was really in the weeds with the operations of the firm but also the flow of capital from LP to start up.

Jay Clouse: 00:11:24

So when you were with Toms in 2008, how big was that team? How big was the company?

Monique Villa: 00:11:29

When I joined they adjust, reached 40 full time in house and there were 13 I believe, of us interns that actually worked full time for the winter. So we were there Monday through Friday. We were living in a house together. We would carpool together, we would figure out creative, very affordable lunches together. It was a really special time and I mean to give you some context, at that point in time there was no real budget for any sort of advertising or marketing. And so what we had were these sort of postcard size pieces of collateral that we would walk around and hand them out to people when we were at events and so forth. But aside from that, it was really, really, you know, on paper it was small. But I’d say that the weight that was being pulled was really, really significant. You know, we were on stage at, you know, the United Nations and the Clinton global initiative and we’re working to bring shoes to Haiti and had been selling in whole foods and urban outfitters and had some really significant distribution at that point in time. But it really came together in January after my internship, when Blake, the CEO is on an AT&T commercial walking around saying that he uses at and t phone to put shoes on kids’ feet. And then all of a sudden I didn’t have to explain to everybody that we weren’t the toothpaste company because every, every time I said Toms and they’d say, oh, like the toothpaste. It’s like, no, we’re a shoe company. And uh, and, and so I’m grateful to AT&T for helping, helping connect the dots.

Jay Clouse: 00:13:10

That’s really funny. I have thought that before too, when I saw the toothpaste, actually I was aware of the shoes before the toothpaste and Tom’s was founded in 2006. So you were there pretty early on. It sounds like both by the size of the team you mentioned and the year

Monique Villa: 00:13:21

It was a really fun time and I was only 19 years old. I was the youngest, I was the second to youngest person in our warehouse that was just a sea of desks and boxes. And, but what was really powerful about that, and I think it’s important for people who are looking for internships or first roles in startups is being able to see the lay of the land. Um, so I could actually visualize all the different departments and how they were working together because we were in one big space. People talk about open concept. This was a warehouse, like we didn’t have any walls and I think that was really what set off the rest of my, you know, continuing proceeds to my career.

Eric Hornung: 00:14:02

So creative, affordable lunches. That’s an interesting thing to bring up. When you’re talking about your experience, what was a creative affordable lunch

Monique Villa: 00:14:12

So anything that you could make from the trader Joe’s frozen aisle and reheat. It was always a good thing. Rice, like lots of rice based dishes because you could buy a big bag of rice. Yeah. Any sort of pack that would make one meal into three was, was pretty much the name of the game because you know, when you’re entertaining and you’re excited about what you’re doing, you’re not necessarily flush in lunch money.

Eric Hornung: 00:14:42

So I’m sorry, I think you’ve said this, I missed it. You moved on from Tom’s to the early stages at a venture firm.

Monique Villa: 00:14:49

Yeah. So after I went and worked for a digital entertainment consulting firm focused on BD and strategic partnerships and you know, the entertainment industry at that time was going through a lot. It was sort of post streaming, you know, post brick and mortar shops starting to close and trying to figure out a way to monetize the entertainment industry and across this applies to film and TV as well. Incredibly difficult. And so the startups we were working with, we would help them really closely on their business models and figure out who they should be talking to and when and you know, how they could actually create this product market fit for them. So after that I ended up meeting my would be boss at an event in La and he was starting a first time fund. He’d moved out from Boston. He had been at Bain capital for a number of years and he’s like, hey, we’re starting this new fund here in LA in Singapore. Uh, we’re recruiting. And he was really just building a team like this definition of a startup is if you are building something, and they were in month five when I joined, but every single person you meet practically on the street, you’re, you’re pretty much figuring out if they’ll be your next hire. Like you’re just on the, on the prowl for talent and so yeah, so I ended up accepting a role there in investor relations and you know, did everything from that month five point from fundraising to onboarding our LP’s to wiring money to companies to also making sure that our company was, was a company, so I, you know, telling the city of LA that we were indeed a company and that, you know, we filed our taxes and we performed our first audit and you know, we really started sketching out what was this, you know, overall operation going to mean for our, our founders and also for our investors.

Eric Hornung: 00:16:38

When you say between LA and Singapore, can you elaborate a little bit on that and what was it like working internationally?

Monique Villa: 00:16:46

Yeah, so we had our headquarters in La. We were in Westwood near UCLA and in Singapore we had our chairman and a number of LP’s and so we spent some time there but really our thesis was all around, you know, tech enabled consumer products and emerging markets. So we weren’t looking for San Francisco based companies. We were sort of looking outside of San Francisco, but also in Southeast Asia where we saw a big opportunity. It was a in terms of how it was like. It was fascinating. I love Southeast Asia, you know, I went to Singapore and I went to Jakarta and got to know companies out there and investors and found a really phenomenal and close knit community that was also still getting to know one another and also just a really brutal time zone difference because if you’re leaving the office at 6:30 PM in LA, it’s 9:30 AM most of the year in Singapore and so your inbox starts to fill up again. But yeah, I just, I really fell in love with that part of the world and I look forward to going back.

Jay Clouse: 00:17:53

You’re drawing some parallels in my mind to a former guests that we had that you may have crossed paths with their Peter Brock. Did you. Did you work with Peter at all?

Monique Villa: 00:18:01

So I didn’t know Peter at that point in time, but he’s actually an advisor with Mucker, so now I’ve gotten to know him with my new in my new capacity,

Jay Clouse: 00:18:11

Yeah, it’s interesting. He’s. He’s talked about when he moved to La and started working with mucker and started identifying that as an emerging ecosystem and of course he spent some time in Singapore as well. Star, fun small world moment.

Monique Villa: 00:18:24

It really is.

Eric Hornung: 00:18:26

Can you give us some of the, some examples of the kinds of companies you were looking at in Southeast Asia specifically in the tech enabled consumer space?

Monique Villa: 00:18:35

Yeah, so actually one of the ones that we were considering during one of my trips out there, we ended up investing in. They were doing essentially an ecommerce delivery for baby products and there was this sort of larger thesis around, you know, the quote unquote middle class in the world defined by having discretionary income is, is how we were thinking about. It was growing in line with population growth but also through efficiencies and new sort of tools that people had in their pockets on the mobile side. And so what we saw in Indonesia, which is where this company was based, they’re based in Jakarta. They realized that these parents could not buy what they needed for their babies or for their toddlers in any simple way. There wasn’t any home delivery at that point for those types of products, so they actually had these warehouses filled with products like baby wipes and snacks and you know all the little things and you could order it online and it would show up to your door and it was delivered by essentially a delivery person on the back of the motorcycle or like a motorized, any like you name it. They would stack up 10 large boxes, cover it in plastic and it would show up to your door. The thing that was really, you know, beyond that being a novel service, I would say the part that it really exposed was how difficult it was to pay for something on an ecommerce platform. At least in that point in time. I know that there’s been some progress that’s been made, but if you bought something, you would essentially have to buy it online, go down to your bank and initiate the equivalent of a of a wire. And then on the backside of that, the company would have to manually match the order they received with essentially the line in their ledger of their banking account that they had received the money and so there were these pieces that I’d say were overlooked by investors that might’ve been doing ecommerce players and in other parts of the world, but what Indonesia was contending with is something that many countries do. And so we developed some really strong conviction around the team and, and that company ended up doing really well.

Eric Hornung: 00:20:56

So I want to clarify where we’re at on the timeline. This is fund. Yeah. This is core innovation capital, right?

Monique Villa: 00:21:05

That’s Vilo’s partners. Yeah sorry. No, because you asked me about how I got into VC, so I went down the rabbit hole of, jobs prior to VC and then when I jumped into.

Eric Hornung: 00:21:15

Awesome. I just wanna make sure. Jay so if you want to take it from there and knowing what we know now about that. Okay. So what year about was this that you were at and this is Vilo’s partners.

Monique Villa: 00:22:02

Vilo’s partners. Yeah. I was at Vilo’s through, I guess it was 2013, 2014, and so we actually fully fundraise that that fund in deployed it and it was just a phenomenal learning experience. We had such an incredible network of investors and founders and that’s really when I decided that I wanted to pursue venture for the long haul and it was because you have this benefit of seeing hundreds and hundreds of companies and figuring out frameworks that you can actually share back with founders to say, all right, you’re at this point in your, in your growth. Here’s, here’s a couple things to consider. Here’s some things to be aware of so that you’re not hopefully not misstepping as much as you might without that sort of visibility.

Jay Clouse: 00:22:17

And what was it about having those frameworks and working with multiple founders that you liked more than say jumping into another early stage startup yourself or starting as early stage startup yourself?

Monique Villa: 00:22:30

So I’d say you’re definitely learning at a pace that even though you’re learning, obviously have rapidly and spending your entire life working and operating within a startup, but I really loved is it’s sort of like novelists, whenever you read a book, you’re getting the benefit of someone’s life’s work that they’ve put into book form. And I really think of founders that way. You know, anytime I meet a founder, I’m absorbing the something that they’ve been working on for years or sometimes decades, sometimes longer than I’ve been alive and I just love diving into something and learning about a new industry and learning about a new way that this industry is being looked at by people who have been, frankly, often times can find by, by the sort of traditional industry and, and see this opportunity of sort of what the world could become. So I really loved that aspect of it. And then I love the challenge of, all right, so you want to do this thing, this impossible, seemingly irrational thing to build a business from scratch. Let me figure out a way to help you. And so I really love that service capacity for, you know, for venture.

Eric Hornung: 00:23:41

That is my favorite way I’ve ever heard like why venture describe to me. And I think it also fits extremely well with why I personally am doing this podcast. I love that metaphor as founders and guests as books and being able to learn so much from them. That is, that was an incredible answer.

Monique Villa: 00:24:04

Oh, thank you know I, I really believe it. It’s obviously been a learning curve and every, at every turn there’s a surprise but, but that’s sort of what I signed up for.

Eric Hornung: 00:24:13

I’m going to steal that by the way.

Monique Villa: 00:24:15

Please do it. It’s yours

Jay Clouse: 00:24:21

From Vilo’s. It looks like you moved onto something called network for teaching entrepreneurship. Can you talk about that?

Monique Villa: 00:24:29

Yes. So that was a total surprise as everything is. And so I ended up meeting the board chair of this organization on a startup crawl in Santa Monica of all things. So imagine walking down the street between startup offices and I think we both were talking to someone else and had some form of, you know, combination of keywords that triggered the other person and it was around youth entrepreneurship and so, you know, I sort of helped out around Caine’s arcade and my friends and really talented filmmaker who who put that out and I, I helped out around the edges and became really passionate about creativity for kids. And so yeah, he was, he was also talking about something similar and I ended up discovering this organization. It’s been around at that point for 27 years and was all around in class curriculum to teach people essentially students middle school and high school about entrepreneurship and then going all the way through the business plan competition but specifically focused on low income communities. At that point in time, you know, Vilo’s had already deployed the fund. I was frankly completely exhausted by the time difference and also trying really hard to get married. I was engaged for almost a year at that point and couldn’t even think about actually planning a wedding or being in a wedding and I thought, oh, maybe I’ll work for a nonprofit that’s doing really great work and I’ll be able to at least fix my time zone issue. And I did and I ended up loving it. I, I ran an accelerator program that we worked really closely with city and then also in the in class program we worked closely with eye and Mastercard, so you know, partially focused on our corporate partnerships but also our in class programming, supporting teachers. We launched 13 businesses during the summer with the accelerator program called startup summer. I just really enjoyed the entire process, but I think more than anything else, I had been in a position before where I was working with LP’s that were high net worth individuals with very substantial significant net worth to their name. And I then went and worked with low income middle and high school students and I was able to draw quite a few parallels between, between those seemingly disparate populations. And it really came down to talent, talent, and motivation, like someone has some level of talent and how are they motivated to do something with that talent. And I, and I was, I was just really fascinated by the juxtaposition, the fact that I went from an investor relations role to working in the nonprofit capacity.

Jay Clouse: 00:27:14

And this is after you realized that venture was where you want it to be?

Monique Villa: 00:27:17

Oh yeah. And I, that’s just it. Like I didn’t see them frankly, is different. Like I was definitely at a different part of the, of the food chain. Like you know like, oh you’re working for a nonprofit. And it’s very different from oh you work for a venture firm. And it’s like, what? I’m the same person and I’m still building companies and no, but I, I really thought that it would be sort of a course correction because when you’re working and building something from scratch and in any startup or you know, first time fund will tell you this, like, your health suffers you, you’re not sleeping. Like it’s just a brutal trajectory. And I thought I’d correct that, but then we ended up working incredibly hard and I don’t know that I actually like because I wasn’t having the, the predictable nine to five or nine to six, you know, situation that I thought I might, but I absolutely loved every second of it.

Jay Clouse: 00:28:13

Did you pull off a wedding in that time?

Monique Villa: 00:28:15

I did. I got married and I kept my husband who actually saw me like I was around. It was great. I’m so glad that it worked out. I think it was, it was definitely the right call, you know, certain life events you can’t skip over.

Jay Clouse: 00:28:31

And I’m sure there’s a lot that we can unpack from that experience with the non-profit. But I want to kind of keep moving forward in. You then moved onto another venture firm.

Monique Villa: 00:28:42

Yeah. So I joined Core Innovation capital, you know, I had known the firm for several years because they were friends with our team at Vilo’s partners. And so that’s actually where the job came from day. One of my friends who was on the investment team, they’re reached out because they were looking to bring someone on and so my role was really focused on scaling our firm’s operations because we had two funds at that point in time in your five and so your five looks significantly different from month five of affirm and given my background with investor relations and I mean I was even like our unofficial CFO at at Vilo’s was, but you know, I showing up at core had some of those pieces that I could pull in and figure out how to work best with our LP’s in our broader network. So we were Fintech focus fund specifically looking for double bottom line consumer value plays and our entire network was concentrated in services. So we had, you know, over 7,000 contacts in financial services and figuring out how we could best leverage our resources to support our portfolio. I think that’s something that’s really important for sector focused funds.

Jay Clouse: 00:29:55

What is a double bottom line consumer
value product?

Monique Villa: 00:30:00

Yeah. So there’s quite a few that we found and actually we believe that this space is continuing to grow, so looking at something like opportune, they’re based out of redwood city, they have actually built an entire operation around brick and mortar locations targeting the Hispanic community doing small dollar personal loans and their average loan size at least a couple years ago was $750, but they were able to leverage technology to improve their underwriting process and then focus their operations all around helping the consumer pay back that loan by by really getting them across the finish line of pain that making that first payment. And then once you make that first payment, then then you have a much higher, you know, ability to, to actually get it paid back. What is the actual phrase? Double bottom line. Yeah. So double bottom line is really around if you have a company that’s doing well and doing good at the same time is how he described it. So doing well financially. So we have an absolute mandate to return money to our investors. So we’re looking for very commercially minded enterprises that are going to scale quickly and make you know, a great return, but also on the other side, we believe that producing a some element of consumer value of product that’s going to actually be a good product or service for the end user and the consumer. But we believe that that actually gets the scalability because people become incredibly loyal if you’re, if you’re providing them with a great service. So in Fintech, making sure that these are financial products that aren’t going to, you know, burn and pillage but actually help people in their financial lives.

Eric Hornung: 00:31:50

So you’ve gone through early stage VC and sorry, not early stage as an early stage investor, but five month old VC accelerator slash nonprofit five-year-old VC and you understand that going and starting your own thing is not a 9 to 6 job. So you moved to Nashville and start your own thing. Can you, can you tell us about how those experiences kind of culminated in starting ModernCapital?

Monique Villa: 00:32:20

Yeah, so I’d say that everything besides the fact that, you know, I’ve been working with startups throughout, I think it really helped me identify needs in the market because of seeing it from slightly different vantage points. And so when I came to Nashville I, I said, you know what? I don’t know if single about this part of the country, I need to learn about it. So I hopped in the car and I started meeting people who were founders and investors and ecosystem builders and I visited Birmingham and Huntsville and Memphis and Louisville and Chattanooga and Knoxville and the triangle in Atlanta and like, you name it. And so I was just learning. I needed to figure out what is it that I could contribute to this community long term now that I’m going to be here for a long time. And people were incredibly welcoming, but I was also really impressed with the level of sort of context that they were happy to share. You know, they would say, Hey, like I’ve been building this company for two years, here’s what I’ve been facing. Here’s what I’d really love. Here’s what I think the city would really benefit from, and so it all directed me into this direction that there was this, you know, large discrepancy in communication between this part of the country and the rest of the country and that really surprised me and also it, it surprised me that even within the region there was relatively little connectivity, so I would go visit, you know, one city that was maybe a couple hours away from another city and somehow be the person introducing people to one another who had been there for decades and I was here in my own month five. Right. It’s like how, how could this be possible? How do you not know each other? And so it was a total phenomenon to me and so I knew that I needed to create something new that would help facilitate that community.

Jay Clouse: 00:34:09

When, when you made that move you, you’re still with Mucker right now and that’s based in LA. You’re living in Nashville. Are you helping Mucker to find companies in. I know, I know your thing is built in the Southeast. In the Southeast.

Monique Villa: 00:34:27

Yeah. So the story there is one of the partners Will at Mucker has been a mentor of mine for a number of years. We actually met when I was at Nifty working for the nonprofit and you know, I really admired him and thought thought that he had a very unique view of the world and so when I was starting to build ModernCapital here in Nashville, I had gone back to La to visit and I was reaching out to some people for advice and so I took them out to lunch and told him what I was doing and I really did it so he could poke holes in my, in my logic and thought process because I knew there would be many. And a month later he offered me a role. And so ModernCapital actually in building that community led to Mucker where Mucker didn’t have any operations here previously. Being headquartered in LA for the past seven years. And so, you know, I joined Mucker’s team in July of 2018 and I am looking at companies that are in not just the Southeast but sort of this radius around Nashville because Nashville has, you know, over half of the US population within a 650 mile radius. So it’s a pretty compelling advantage to be here and to be investing.

Eric Hornung: 00:35:39

I’m trying to think about how your brain works from this perspective where it’s I go, I see a company, am I Mucker or am I Modern?

Monique Villa: 00:35:48

It works really well. So Mucker is my, I’m in a full time capacity on the investment team and Mucker invest preceded and seed predominantly seed. But we also invest proceed with a, what we call Mucker lab, which is a sort of annual cohort model for an accelerator program. And that’s first and foremost, you know, I think the, the immediate conversation that I have with founders, because founders here fundraising are gearing up to fundraise. That’s definitely cashflow is real, right? So that’s usually like the beginning of our conversation. And then on the ModernCapital side, our mission is really to build community in the southeast and so we’re doing that through research, publishing content as we gather those findings and then we’re starting to host events. But with that, it’s supported by a network that’s growing of venture fellows and these are people who are either in college, college graduates, MBA students, maybe working for a startup locally, but really wanting to understand a little bit more about the venture capital industry as a whole. And so we’re helping to sort of fill in those gaps and provide context through the research and through the content we’re creating in the networks that we’re creating, but also figuring out how we can help those founders and connecting them with people around the country. So it’s, um, that’s definitely much more a direct community building mechanism. And it’s something that even when I’m talking to founders that might not be a good fit for Mucker, they’re genuinely excited that there’s this ethos around community building and collaboration. And so then we ended up having an excuse to stay in touch much longer than, than if it was like a, Oh sorry, we, you know, we’re not going to work together in this other capacity.

Jay Clouse: 00:37:37

Has ModernCapital raised defined or have you deployed any investments?

Monique Villa: 00:37:41

So we actually are backed by Launch Tennessee. They provided us with grant funding that pays for the venture fellows program and also our operational expenses. So I’m not financially part of that. I just really wanted to build this and I believe that ModernCapital will will go on. I’d love to become a b Corp honestly and, and really scaled the team and, and you know, make it a true se effort that many, many hubs participate in.

Eric Hornung: 00:38:13

So I read your post on, I think it was your post on medium about the launch of ModernCapital. And one of the points that was reiterated a couple times was this idea of connecting Nashville to specifically la, but also just the general Silicon Valley Coastal Capital. I was wondering if you talk a little bit more in addition to the community building, you mentioned the connection facilitation.

Monique Villa: 00:38:40

Yeah. So I’d say it’s even more broad
than than la or silicon valley. I think collectively the team has a network that spans the country and in all parts of the country. And so the idea is that if we meet a founder and we get to know the founder and the founder says, Hey, I’m at this point in my, in my lifespan, right? Like I’m just starting out, I’m looking for advisors. I don’t have a single dollar in revenue all the way to. I have a company that’s doing $25 million in ARR and we’re looking for our next growth round. I think that because we are really just looking to get to know them, we can go back to our community and say hey, who would be a couple of people that we could introduce them to? That would be really helpful. And so it’s really informal in that capacity and it’s pretty casual and we don’t, we don’t have any interest in becoming the consultant for the fundraise either. We just wanted to sort of do the service of, of saying can we help you do this a little more efficiently? Because otherwise founders as you know, are sort of left to scouring the Internet and trying to extract somehow all of these insights from very vague websites and that’s, that’s something I experienced when I was working on the consulting side because company would say, hey, should we talk to this VC firm? And I had no clue what, you know, fill in the blank. VC’s website was supposed to tell me about their strategy. It was, it’s very hit or miss. And so we just, we just want to be supportive in that capacity.

Jay Clouse: 00:40:14

So Monique I imagine at some point, probably even early on when you’re with TOM’s, you looked around and realized that this whole industry is male dominated and that’s a trend that you’ve been bucking your entire career right? So can you talk about what that’s been like and why you think you’ve had such a sort of seamless transition into the venture world?

Monique Villa: 00:40:35

Yeah, so I’d say it has been fascinating to see what has happened within the venture capital community in the past year alone. So it’s something that I never. It never occurred to me that it would even happen or that it would be a topic, you know, I think it was just so much more of a reality that you. You sort of just work within it and that’s about it and so more recently what we saw was that venture firms specifically can disappear overnight because of their agreements in the way that the agreements are structured with their investors, their LP’s, and so I think that created an incentive unlike any other industry to sort of course correct and make sure that there was representation around the table, that there are women and other underrepresented communities at the table that are making these decisions and directing billions and billions of dollars into companies that are going to shape the future. Also, beyond that, I’m, my background is my dad’s Mexican and so I’m half Mexican and there’s actually only 29 Latino VC’s in the country. There’s a list that one of my friends, Maria from Unshackled put together with a couple of other investors, but I’d say that my path has been anything but seamless. It’s been absolutely just tons and tons and tons of work pounding the pavement, meeting people, figuring out how everyone works together. You know, I didn’t come from a traditional background. I didn’t. I chose not to get an MBA. I didn’t study finance in Undergrad and so everything that I’ve done has had to be entirely different in order to get to this point in time and I think because of that it’s back in line with your question around what’s going on in and what is it like to be, you know, a woman or an underrepresented entity in this industry. I’d say that it’s only benefiting me because I’m interacting and helping and supporting companies in a totally different way than arguably someone else who doesn’t have my same background or my same vantage point.

Eric Hornung: 00:42:43

What’s the future of the Southeast venture ecosystem?

Monique Villa: 00:42:47

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they talk about different parts of the country or between the coasts or you know, even people use these terms around tier two, tier three cities. I think that’s entirely false. And in the southeast, there’s an incredibly strong foundation and industries and deep domain expertise that serving founders incredibly well and then as people are moving into the area, because we are seeing this distribution of people unlike ever before across the country, when they come to those areas, they get the benefit of that deep domain expertise and they also are bringing in new ideas for those. And so on the capital side, I think the biggest shift we’re seeing is that instead of people, capital is no longer the magnet. People aren’t following capital, quote unquote in the same way that you know, we did at the advent of Wall Street for example, right? Like put on your suit, you go down to Wall Street. Wall Street’s actually moving and that’s happening across the country. And so capital is also now realizing that talent is the strongest magnet. And so capital’s following the talent, and I’m seeing this here even in my one year being here in that people are increasingly willing to get on planes showing up to conferences. They get here. They started home shopping because they realize that it’s an incredible place to be. And I think in the next five years, but honestly the next two years we’re gonna see some really significant changes in, in the types of investors that decided to show up.

Eric Hornung: 00:44:21

And how do you define the Southeast?

Monique Villa: 00:44:24

Yeah. So this is a really fun question because I researched it extensively and everyone has a different. And I mean everyone, I define it as 10 states because I figured. And this is also a whole disputable thing around what is the Midwest, right? Like where’s the Midwest? There’s so many. And then it’s Texas, it’s own thing. I think so. Um, so I figured we have 50 states. We’re in the bottom right corner, let’s pick 10. So that was sort of reasoning there. So we start with, you know, Tennessee down to Mississippi up through Kentucky and then over up into West Virginia and Virginia and then everything south of that.

Jay Clouse: 00:45:05

You mentioned the money following talent and coming that way. Can you talk to me about the talent ecosystem that you’re seeing in Nashville or in the Southeast in how that’s going? Because talent is something that I see frequently in many of the communities that we talked to as a limiting factor.

Monique Villa: 00:45:21

Yeah, so I think it’s incredibly strong. I think that like any place, honestly, there’s always certain roles that are hard to fill, so you’ll hear people say, Hey, I wish that there was a really great pool of CTO’s running around. Well guess what? That’s kind of the case in every city in every city that you go to. It’s finding certain positions are tough and so I think that overall operating talent is incredibly strong, so knowing how to build a team, have a team be well cared for, how to actually make sure that you don’t take a nosedive because you neglected everything on the operational and financial front, and then also at the same time figuring out a way to generate revenue. I think that’s a real big advantage that this region has, is that there’s this understanding of how to get someone to pay you. I always call it a dollar, like if you can get someone to give you a dollar, you’re you’re on the right track.

Eric Hornung: 00:46:21

Along the lines of talent, I guess I have a question about, and you’ve talked to a lot of people in the region, so I’m just curious on your insight. I have a stigma and I think a certain amount of people have a stigma about the south and the southeast being areas of poverty and limited educational opportunities. And if you look at, like a Gini Coefficient by state, I think the 10 states that you mentioned all fall in like the bottom, probably 20. So I’m curious systemically how ModernCapital and how initiatives like ModernCapital, are they important in pushing these ecosystems forward and developing organic talent or does it have to all come in externally?

Monique Villa: 00:47:10

Oh yeah. No, not at all. I would say it’s both. It’s, it’s local talent plus new talent that’s showing up and having a way in which those different sort of pockets of, of the community can actually connect in a meaningful way. And so, you know, I think working in La on the nonprofit side and you were talking about, you know, poverty and, and, you know, real discrepancies in the socioeconomic continuum, you know, I think here it might be a little more visible because people are passing one another and in the same locale and an la. I thought it was really unfortunate that freeways really took everyone over different parts of the city and those are the parts of the city I spent the most time in. And it was just bizarre to me how little people understood about what was going on from down just down the street. So my wish for the Southeast is that we don’t become a big network of freeways because that would be the real direction where it would go wrong. I think in, in the meantime and in a non freeway sort of orientation, uh, the region at large really needs to think seriously about the local community and make sure that everything we’re doing is involving that local community. And that’s something that I think places like Memphis doing extremely well, they, they actually have this connectivity with what is the DNA of the city, but as the city look like, what is this city to have as its history and then how can we support these founders and building these companies and it’s no mistake like Memphis has a very, very high percentage of founders from diverse backgrounds that are starting businesses and it’s because that’s entirely intentional. So I’d love to see that across the entire region.

Jay Clouse: 00:49:00

A lot of our conversation here has been around your journey getting into, into venture, which you’ve said was, was not seamless the way I kind of alluded to it, but something that you had to work really hard at. What advice would you give to our listeners if they were interested in pursuing a similar path and getting into the venture side?

Monique Villa: 00:49:19

Yeah, so this is exactly how the venture fellows program came about, is that I was meeting people who are saying, hey, how can I get into venture? How can I learn about this? And what I thought was really unfortunate was that their experience was that they had reached out to VC’s and different firms to figure out how they could get in the door and they were essentially told to not waste their time because it was a really competitive industry and there would be, you know, they may as well just stick with what they were doing. And so I don’t accept that at all. I think that for someone who wants to get into venture, I think the number one question to answer is why. Like what is it that, that you want from, from venture, just because I think one misstep that I see quite a bit and this applies to people who’ve been in venture and then decided to leave, is that there’s this false celebrity. There’s this notion that there’s this power dynamic and you’re sitting back and writing checks all day. And instead, I mean I was up until 2:45 last night working on a Saturday. Like that’s kind of what happens. And so I always ask why and then depending on what questions they might have following that, you know, I think a great way to do it is to just learn everything possible. So it’s the same argument you’d make for people who are saying, well, how do I get a mentor and how can I be valuable to that mentor? It’s like, well, you’re going to be valuable in many, many ways because you can provide them with information that they otherwise don’t have or maybe don’t have time to, to generate. And so I’ve seen people be really creative, far more creative than myself in getting to venture by doing things like attending every last pitch competition and collecting every deck in sending every deck to every VC and guessing their emails and just putting themselves out there and saying, hey, I’m hustling. I’m working so hard. I’ve learned everything. I’m never going to ask you to define a term that doesn’t make sense to me because I’ve already googled it and I already have read up on it. And all the blogs, like there’s, there’s never been more content out there on venture. And so I’d say really studied it. I mean, Arlen from backstage talks about this in the many years that she spent just researching and figuring out that she just had to learn everything she could in order to play in the industry and so I think that’d be my number one recommendation and then separately build your network. Like the power of relationships in this industry is, is real, and so if you could go and build a totally unique network and then bring that back to affirm and have a have an opinion on where the world’s headed, then you’re already more than halfway to having a career in this industry.

Jay Clouse: 00:52:05

What do you think venture needs more of what type of perspective?

Monique Villa: 00:52:09

I think venture needs to step away from the exclusivity and in a lot of the veil that’s been up for for a number of years. I think sort of a return to values would be really great. Like when people talking about Silicon Valley and in several decades ago, it was a totally different place where it was way more collaborative. You know, people tell stories about their competitor sending them tech talent for the day because something crashed and they needed the extra set of hands and I think venture needs more of that moving forward. Um, and that’s going to take the form of people who have truly unique insights, like that’s all I look for when I’m talking to a founder is what is their unique insight, what makes them uniquely exceptional that you can’t just get off of a piece of paper and how is that going to help their business win and be successful and not fold next month. And so I think it’s the same exact thing. We need more people who have unique insights that can come in and shared their view of the world and have a different perspective.

Eric Hornung: 00:53:16

Monique, it has been awesome having you on hearing about the mission of modern hearing about your story. I think the mission of ModernCapital resonates a lot with what we’re doing here at upside and connecting people and connecting players in the ecosystem outside of Silicon Valley. If people want to learn more about you, where can they find out about you?

Monique Villa: 00:53:38

Yeah, I’d say email me, we have an email. Think on the website it’s hello@moderncapital.co. Please send us a note. We were actually starting to host a monthly get together. That’s sort of a place for founders to find one another and it’s super casual format, so we’d love to invite you to an event. We’d love to meet you if you’re in a different city or visiting for the first time, we’d love to send you to some of our friends in some other cities that have office space you can borrow for a few days. We want to be a resource to you.

Jay Clouse: 00:54:12

Great. Thank you so much. Monique.

Eric Hornung: 00:54:17

So Jay, we just spoke with Monique. Curious what are your takeaways from her story?

Jay Clouse: 00:54:24

I think it’s always fascinating to hear how people get into venture because it’s not an easy path to get into, nor is it really a straightforward path. And so I really liked hearing about her background working at toms shoes, which I can only imagine. It was an awesome experience at that time and Tom’s history because they were such a such a great story in one of the pioneers of social enterprise, really at least how as we know it today and then for her to move into the venture space and then find such a home there that she really enjoyed. I think something you’re probably gonna talk about is her, her talk about founders being books. That definitely stuck out to me. I know that she said it wasn’t seamless, but it did seem like she’s gotten through it pretty easily and it’s come pretty natural to her and I think that’s awesome and I hope other people have similar success. What’s that got to you?

Eric Hornung: 00:55:16

I think it’s crazy that she was so young when she started in venture capital. It’s there’s fellowships out there and their scout programs and sure some people get in as associates, but the venture community for how much it’s talked about and how often it’s on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I don’t think Wall Street more than a couple tens of thousands of people in the United States who work in it. It’s a very small, tight knit community, so to break in you have to either have started a great company and work your way in. You have to have gone to one of the top schools and been like one of the top students who also happened to have an interest in entrepreneurship on the side. You have to start your own thing. There is, it’s very hard to break into venture capital. So I think it’s very unique that she got in early and I liked that she had this experience with like international venture capital. I like that everything she did in VC was different too.

Jay Clouse: 00:56:16

The really surprising part to me, or at least the most different part was this period of time that she was working for the network for teaching entrepreneurship in the middle of that, which she said, you know, it wasn’t functionally a whole lot different than venture, but it did seem like a very different opportunity. Granted that also gave her some space to, to uh, get married. And she and her husband moved to Nashville. He’s a songwriter, which I think is a fun, a fun story. Being a native Los Angeles and then moving to the Midwest here I think is a testament to the Midwest. I hope it’s a testament to the Midwest and not just sort of Nashville being a place for songwriters. I’m sure it’s both, but like you said, I think it is aligned pretty well with what we’re doing here at upside and trying to connect communities here in the Midwest outside of Silicon Valley. It seems like she’s gotten a similar bug and an interest.

Eric Hornung: 00:57:10

Do you. I’m curious, do you consider Nashville the Midwest?

Jay Clouse: 00:57:14

I do. Should I not?

Eric Hornung: 00:57:16

I don’t. I, I think that’s interesting. I mean
there’s really no defined line, but the Midwest to me cuts off at Cincinnati. So when you’re in Kentucky or in the southeast

Jay Clouse: 00:57:25

That’s fair. She calls it the se. Let me see. What’s that? What’s that horrible thumbnail that techcrunch keeps using on their articles that defines the Midwest? Let’s see, real quick, I can find it.

Eric Hornung: 00:57:35

We should always use techcrunch thumbnails to define geographic, uh, categories of the United States. This techcrunch, horrible thumbnail. No, it does not. It does not rank Tennessee as part of the Midwest.

Jay Clouse: 00:57:49

Right, and that’s one of the things that upside is, we’re not limited to the Midwest. We’re going anywhere outside of Silicon Valley. We stayed in the United States and well I guess North America to date and we have a focus around the Midwest, but we’ve done Nashville, we’ve done Birmingham, we are doing Atlanta, we’ve done Florida. We have some pretty unique things and overlap with Monique for sure. Jumping back into Monique and her story, I think the one we mentioned the difference of Nifty, I think that her venture capital experiences were very different too and that to me was kind of like her earlier years in venture capital. We’re almost like a training program for where she is now in that the first one was or she had super early stage with the accelerator. She had specific with a Fintech and she had that international experience, so it’s just like a lot of different facets of venture capital that she can take pieces of as she moves into this new role with Mucker and her new advocacy role with ModernCapital in Nashville.

Eric Hornung: 00:58:56

Can you imagine, can you, can you extrapolate what we’ve done in the last six months on the podcasts and the number of founders we’ve talked to in the last six months to what somebody with Monique’s background or anybody in venture, their background, the number of founders they talked to you and the things they understand and the similarities they draw, the connections that come to mind immediately when they meet somebody else entering a new space

Jay Clouse: 00:59:16

To put some numbers behind that. We’ve spoke to approximately 30 founders or so in six months

Eric Hornung: 00:59:25

Specifically for the show. We’ve spoken to more founders in that, but on the show recorded interviews about 30.

Jay Clouse: 00:59:31

I think when you think about official meetings that have venture capitalists has, let’s say conservatively they have two meetings a day with a founder, similar to how we have a meeting here on upside. That means in 15 days they’ve seen as many companies as we’ve seen on upset.

Eric Hornung: 00:59:48

Yeah. I can’t imagine, and every time we talk to a founder it brings to light this idea of, oh, we should connect them to this person. Which I think is probably a similar state of mind and venture all over the country, but it certainly seems to be folks that we talked to here in the middle of the country. I want to say the Midwest, I’ll say outside of the valley and the coast, people are always trying to connect one another, hold each other up and see where they can find some, some parallels and man that would just be a never ending amazing carousel of introductions and, and such a in that kind of world.

Jay Clouse: 01:00:24

And I think that’s why people like venture capital so much is that it’s continuously intellectually stimulating because you could go from one meeting where someone is reinventing Fintech data to another meeting where someone is building a community of rappers to another one where someone is building plush animals that look like your pet and it’s, that’s one day

Eric Hornung: 01:00:45

That was like an upside Bingo. Kinda like what you spent hours working on for twitter.

Jay Clouse: 01:00:51

Uh, yeah. We don’t need to get into the Bingo board. Jay. Diving back into Monique, we talked about her VC side and getting into that and how that was super interesting and enlightening for us. I want to talk a little bit about the ModernCapital mission and what we can learn at upside from that.

Eric Hornung: 01:01:10

So ModernCapital is trying to connect founders, community builders, all the members of an ecosystem that should be aligned in helping hold each other up, not just in Nashville or not just in Tennessee, but in the southeast. She’s trying to bridge those geographic gaps to say your location doesn’t constrain you or define you. Let’s figure out how we can best collaborate across borders, which yeah, you’re right. I think that’s completely aligned with what we’re doing here at upstate and is what is what we’re sharing at South by Southwest and so yeah, I think we both relate to that.

Jay Clouse: 01:01:49

It’s funny because you were on David Sherry’s podcast, no agenda, and you brought up the deck that kind of started our discussion about upside back when we were aptly named Project Cheddar. Little inside, a little inside scoop for the listeners there and I think on page one of that deck I had the word archipelago written because that’s how I saw the startup ecosystems outside of the coasts. There was the Boston, New York San Francisco contingent where capital and information flowed freely across the three or at least comparatively freely and then outside of that you had all these little dots that weren’t connected to anything else. You know, maybe Cincinnati and Columbus talked a little bit or maybe Indianapolis and Chicago knew each other a little bit or Milwaukee, but there wasn’t really like this network effect where a startup is crushing it in Cincinnati and everybody in the Midwest region is trying to dive in and I think that the goal of modern is to be a bridge in the southeast for that and the goal of upside or one of the goals of upside is to be a bridge outside of Silicon Valley.

Eric Hornung: 01:03:05

Yeah. I think to build a network and a connective tissue that way, there’s a little bit of ego that you have to release because ModernCapital could be this connected tissue in the southeast. You may have some efforts started in Chicago that can connect the Midwest and then you may have someone in the southwest and then those three organizations could work together, but every time there’s somebody who gets really excited about wanting to be the one place for everything. There’s usually an element of ego that gets introduced that actually fundamentally destroys the thing it’s trying to create, which is the ability to actually connect to other people because what you need is a collaborative spirit to work with whatever institutions and organizations exist to best serve the people you’re trying to serve as opposed to simply trying to serve the growth and existence of the organization itself.

Jay Clouse: 01:04:17

That’s awesome. I think about that all the time I didn’t. I don’t really think about it in terms of ego, but there are a lot of stories about when silicon valley was starting in the sixties 60’s and 70’s and 80’s that when companies like had a big product push, other companies would just shut down for a week and like let the other company have all of their tech talent for a week so that they can make a product deadline. And that. Is that true? I’ve heard it’s anecdotal, so I don’t know. But um, I think I read it on some blog somewhere, but whether it’s true or not, the idea that that could have happened or did happen. I think that kind of like crazy collaboration is just like awesome. I love that. Yeah. So excited to keep up with Monique and what she’s done with ModernCapital and I’m sure it will be collaborating with her and companies inside of that region for, you know, months, years to come

Eric Hornung: 01:04:56

And shout out to Allie Felix from Embark Collective who was previously on the podcast and gave us the intro to Monique. We love when we get to use our network to find new. Awesome, amazing people. If you the listener, have any new, awesome or amazing people who you think would be great on the show, we’d love an introduction. Please send us an email@helloatupside.fm or engage with us on Twitter @upsidefm or comment or like on Breaker are preferred podcasting app.

Jay Clouse: 01:05:30

All right guys, talk to you next week. That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest, so shoot us an email at email@helloatupside.fm, or find us on twitter @upsidefm will be back here next week at the same time talking to another founder and our quest to find upside outside of Silicon Valley. If you or someone you know would make a good guest for our show, please email us or find us on twitter and let us know and if you love our show, please leave us a review on iTunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric and I decided there were a couple of things we wanted to share with you at the end of the podcast, and so here we go. Eric Hornung and Jay Clouse are the founding partners of the Upside Podcast. At the time of this recording, we do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcasts. Participants are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinions of Duff and Phelps LLC and its affiliates Unreal Collective LLC and its affiliates or any entity which employ us. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. We have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on this show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.

Monique Villa is the founder of Modern Capital in Nashville, Tennessee.

ModernCapital is a collective of creative thinkers from the private, public, and civic sectors shaping the modern economy. Based in Nashville, ModernCapital believes the best talent will Build in the Southeast.

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Monique is also on the investment team for L.A.-based venture firm Mucker Capital, looking at Southeast companies, and she has created a local firm focused on supporting regional startups. She built a fellows program for aspiring venture investors and has hired three fellows — all are women.

Learn more about ModernCapital: https://www.moderncapital.co/
Follow Monique on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MoniqueVilla
Follow upside on Twitter: https://twitter.com/upsidefm