Bá Minuzzi is a venture capitalist who personifies grit, hustle, and heart. She is an entrepreneurial investor who cares about people, humanity, planet, purpose, and not just profit.
Bá is the founder of BABEL Ventures, the first venture firm in Silicon Valley with a Latina founder and sole GP. She has been lauded for “Breaking all the rules” and “rocking the male-dominated Silicon Valley” by various mainstream publications. BABEL’s first fund is focused on biotech.
Bá Minuzzi is also the co-founder and general partner of Ausum Ventures with its first fund being a hybrid hedge and venture crypto fund focused on social change through blockchain technology.
Bárbara is a former real-estate entrepreneur and financial advisor to ultra high net-worth families in Brazil. She has singlehandedly raised over $250M for real estate and high tech companies in Latin America and the United States and co-manages over $200M in assets.”
Read on to know more about Bá Minuzzi, her success story, and her advice for budding entrepreneurs on how to make it big.
What background and domain expertise do you have? What makes you turn into an investor?
Bá Minuzzi: More than a venture capitalist, I’m an entrepreneurial investor. I’ve kicked off my entrepreneurial career at a very early age. I was 15 years old when I founded my first company back in my hometown, Porto Alegre, in Brazil. Over the years I got obsessed with the idea of understanding how capital could work for an individual instead of an individual working for capital, fell in love with the investment world, and the results I was achieving with it. After navigating in different segments of the investment world, real estate, private equity, wealth management, I finally found my self where I belonged: Venture Capital! And here I am.
Right after being an investor like in early days, there must be some tough times in building up the first fund along with building up a second fund or giving back the good returns to those LPs. If there is any similar tough time like this, please tell me more about it and how you (or your team) overcame the difficult times.
Bá Minuzzi: I guess the early days are always the most challenging ones. In my case the fund 1 was a real challenge, moving to a new city (San Francisco), connecting with people, finding yourself home in a totally unknown place, all those small things, well summed up it’s a lot. I had to be in a new city, not speaking my native language, not knowing anyone, learning as much as possible about the industry and its tricks, while also fundraising, building a team, strategizing a deal-flow, and connecting with advisors. It was not easy, the hustle was real, but I’m one of those people that love challenges and uncertainty. It was stressful but was always fun.
How we overcame the challenges? As an entrepreneur one of the key strengths you should have is resilience. I’m an extremely resilient person, I always overcome challenges that come on my way.
As an investor, what kind of startups have you invested in? How did you find those startups to invest in?
Bá Minuzzi: I have two venture capital funds with specific investment focus, the first one, BABEL Ventures, only invests in Biotech, the second one only invests in early stage blockchain companies. Our deal-flow is massive these days. I have stellar teams in both funds that not only generates great deal-flow but also does an amazing job analyzing the deals before they go to our investment committee when finally the committee and I make a decision to invest or not in a company.
The biotech fund has 17 companies in its portfolio and the crypto fund has 18 portfolio companies.
What would be the core factors that you decide “Not” to invest in certain companies?
Bá Minuzzi: The founding team
What would be the KPI that you usually check about the startups’ growth? It may differ in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but it would be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
Bá Minuzzi: It’s case by case, we invest super early, so it varies.
What is the investment range and in a typical year how many startups do you invest in? Do overseas headquartered startups have a chance to get investment from you or should be headquartered in certain countries?
Bá Minuzzi: We invest in one company per month (average), min. Check is $100K and max. is $3M.
We only invest in US-based companies, and mainly on the West Coast.
What are the main factors that startups fail as per your experience “after” getting investment and how can they prevent mistakes in advance from your personal perspective?
Bá Minuzzi: At the early stage, most of the companies that fail is because they don’t understand how important it is to fundraise, and until you raise enough funds from early-stage VCs or strategic investors, you shouldn’t stop fundraising, it’s challenging, but you need to be fundraising and executing a company at the same time, the founders who focus too much on execution at this phase end up failing for lack of capital.
What’s your advice to entrepreneurs who have a chance to meet investors like you? and What are the top 3 questions that you always ask the founders?
Bá Minuzzi: What’s the urgency of the problem they are solving?
Why they are the team to bring the solution to reality? What are their “superpowers” to make this company go from 0 to 1, to a 100 and achieve massive impact?
Who are their competitors? Why do they think they can do better?
Why are they founding this company? And why now?
What’s your general thought about the term “Global” and What are the important factors (criteria) for local startups to consider for international expansion?
Bá Minuzzi: We live in a global world, that’s a fact.
Startups shouldn’t go international when they are real startups. What I mean by that is if you are an early stage company you should avoid any international strategy. You need to focus, you need to execute, you need to prove you know what you doing. First, you prove that in the smallest sample possible. After that, you start thinking about global ideas. In its first days, the focus is the key.
As you know, our company name is “beSUCCESS”, what’s your definition of the term “success” as an investor or as an individual human being?
Bá Minuzzi: Living by my own rules is my definition of success. I achieved the highest level of freedom I could imagine and I can not imagine a happier life for myself than the life I’m living.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Bá Minuzzi: I would have visited Silicon Valley before. My first trip to SV was in November 2014, my life changed dramatically since then, my growth has been exponential in every aspect of my life. Financially, personally, social, I wish I had discovered this universe earlier, but other than that, everything I lived so far, happened in the right way. There’s a learning process along the way, there are no shortcuts, and I wouldn’t do anything different in that sense.
When you travel internationally, what kind of entrepreneurs and startups (or industries) you want to meet?
Bá Minuzzi: Normally companies that I would do an angel investment or advice. I love biotech and crypto, but also a big fan of female founders, immigrant founders, AI, sharing economy, and impact investing.
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