PreSeed Fireside Chat with Nancy Pfund from DBL Investors

November 24, 2015

By Rick Moss | Bet­ter Ven­tures:  Each month, Bet­ter Ven­tures con­venes top lead­ers in impact invest­ing and entre­pre­neur­ship for a fire­side chat, net­work­ing, and work­shops geared towards ear­ly-stage com­pa­nies.  We held a Pre­Seed fire­side chat with pow­er­house social impact investor Nan­cy Pfund on Octo­ber 29. The house was packed and Nan­cy deliv­ered the goods.

Nan­cy is with­out a doubt one of the lead­ing impact investors of our day, with block­buster suc­cess­es includ­ing Tes­la, Solar City, Pan­do­ra, Rev­o­lu­tion Foods and more.  And she’s an inspi­ra­tion to entre­pre­neurs and investors alike, demon­strat­ing every day that you can make mon­ey and do good on a very large scale.

It was a wide-rang­ing con­ver­sa­tion cov­er­ing her back­ground, her port­fo­lio, Oak­land, gen­der and diver­si­ty in the tech­nol­o­gy indus­try, and where she’s focus­ing the fir­m’s new $400 mil­lion ven­ture fund. Here are some of our favorite moments:

Social Impact

We emphat­i­cal­ly reject the notion that there is any kind of sac­ri­fice on finan­cial return by pay­ing atten­tion to social return as well. I know peo­ple dis­agree with that, but we’ve been doing this for 12 years and we have proof. There is no sac­ri­fice and, in fact, we take a step fur­ther: we think that invest­ing for social impact makes you a bet­ter investor and that these com­pa­nies can have bet­ter returns.” (30:16)

Diver­si­ty in Tech

What’s so healthy today is that peo­ple are talk­ing about the prob­lem. When I was grow­ing up in those com­pa­nies [like Intel and Ham­brecht & Quist] you nev­er even talked about [diver­si­ty]. And while I was able to build a career that I loved, it was­n’t pos­si­ble at the lev­els it should been for women and minori­ties. So the first step to tack­ling a prob­lem is to speak out, get peo­ple more sen­si­tized, and then the net­works that are being estab­lished are just real­ly work­ing. We see more women entre­pre­neurs today than we ever have. And part of that is when­ev­er you have a more diverse fund man­ag­er, you’re going to see a more diverse set of entre­pre­neurs.” (40:27)


I’m not an urban plan­ner, but it is impor­tant to keep track of where pop­u­la­tions are in a city and I know that you can do set-asides in terms of new hous­ing that pro­tect cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties as you’re improv­ing them. And I so hope that’s what we’ll be doing as Oak­land grows: bal­ance the spe­cial-ness and the his­to­ry of the folks who have lived here with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase the qual­i­ty of life for every­body.” (38:18)

To watch the video, vis­it Bet­ter Ven­tures.