Chris Saum of Active Capital chats with Houston Exponential’s own Bryant Chan in this live Q&A format Ask Me Anything. Together, they discuss some of the trends in investing that Active Capital is facing, Chris shares some traits of companies that Active likes to see before investing, and they explore some of Chris’ favorite podcasts to listen to. Active Capital is a Venture Capital firm that looks to lead seed rounds for B2B SaaS companies outside of Silicon Valley. The firm is built by founders, and aims to not only invest, but also help founders once they start to grow. They look to invest in companies that can get to market with relatively little capital, so they can best help them once they are growing.

Chris Saum is the Director of Business Development at Active Capital. He was previously co-founder of MUD Geochemical, which was acquired in 2016. He made over 10 investments while Partner at RealCo Long-Term Accelerator. In addition, he was on the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and is a proud graduate of UT Austin, “Hook ’em Horns.”


Introductions by Bryant: 5:39

Introduction by Chris/Background of Active Capital: 6:32

“What opportunities and trends are you seeing in the B2B SaaS space over the last several quarters? What has surprised you?” 9:47

“What sort of signals are you looking for in potential investments outside of revenue, team, and market?” 11:17

“Given long sales cycles in B2B, what sort of momentum are you looking for in B2B companies before you decide to invest?” 13:34

“What does a typical ‘founder success initiative’ look like?” 16:03

“Do you look at founder business experience, or are you more focused on the underlying tech of product? Is IP important to you?” 19:12

“What MRR do you look for in your pre-seed investment companies?” 21:18

“How are your portfolio companies coping with the crisis in terms of revenue growth (ARR) and customer retention/churn?” 24:14

“How has COVID changed your investment thesis or velocity?” 26:25

“What are some of the weed-out questions and criteria you use to decide which start-ups to pass on?” 28:55

“At what point in a startup’s lifecycle is it approprite to start engaging with Active?” 31:49

“Why are you choosing to invest now, in today’s volatile climate?” 33:32

“How many deals do you look to do in a year? What’s your deal sourcing strategy and your funnel look like?” 34:38

“When investing, do you look at how big the market is for an opportunity? Is there a minimum size you target?” 37:02

“What questions are you asking companies that you weren’t asking three months ago?” 39:25

“What drove you from practitioner to VC?” 41:17

“Speaking of podcasts, what podcasts would you recomment for people interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital in the long term?” 43:12

“What emerging markets are you excited about?” 47:15

“Does Active Capital focus less on the ‘capital efficiency’ characteristics given that it’s going to be difficult for so many companies to truly make progress in the next 12-24 months?” 49:35

“What looks interesting to you in the XR space?” 50:53

Final thoughts: 51:49

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