Augment Ventures April 2023

Augment Welcomes Jeff Lee

Jeff LeeThe Team has Expanded
Jeff joined us in March as a Venture Partner and brings a strong operating and investing background with a deep network in the Bay Area. Jeff was COO of Origin and helped lead its acquisition by Stratasys. Previously, Jeff was a Venture Partner with DCM Ventures, where he sat on the board of RayVio alongside Sonali.

Jeff has an MBA from UCLA and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford.

To get to know him better, here’s a quick Q&A.

What Skill Would You Most Like to Learn? I’d like to learn to really play the ukulele. I played the piano for 15 years when I was younger so am pretty comfortable with music, and would love to learn the ukulele as it’s a fun, portable, and happy instrument that I can enjoy with my kids. But it’s tough to find the time to put in the reps to actually get good at playing the instrument. Perhaps when my kids are old enough to be out of the house!

Favorite Hobbies? I’ve always loved fishing. More recently, I’ve enjoyed taking my family out backpacking (my kids are pretty young – eight, six, and three) in Yosemite where my eldest really enjoys fly fishing for high mountain trout.

Craziest Experience as an Investor? I got to know Augment/Sonali as co-investors in RayVio. I was a board member and we had some extremely challenging times navigating a potentially transformative UVC LED technology company. Through a lot of hard work, cooperation, and creativity, we decided the best way forward was to spin out a B2C company selling water bottles using RayVio’s technology called LARQ. That company successfully got to double-digit millions of revenue and was acquired by a strategic, generating a successful outcome out of a difficult situation.

Craziest Experience as an Operator? At Origin, an industrial 3D printing company where I led the Series A at DCM and later joined as COO, we started fundraising literally the week COVID hit the Bay Area. Six out of seven of the investor meetings went virtual, and the fundraising market became an absolute disaster. We pivoted the business from selling 3D printers to printing nasopharyngeal swabs for COVID detection and became an FDA-approved healthcare company over the course of a few weeks.

Coolest Thing You Built at Origin? What I’m most proud of is building of a great team, culture, and a company that one of the largest players in the space (Stratasys) wanted to acquire, particularly during the peak of COVID. It was difficult keeping the company alive in our living rooms, much less keeping a positive environment. Much of the credit goes to the founders for setting the culture, but I’m glad I was able to play a part in piloting the company during a difficult time to a great outcome.

SVB & the Recent Banking Turmoil: 3 Recommendations

Banks imageIn the past month, we have seen the collapse of three US regional banks (Silvergate, Signature, Silicon Valley Bank), the fire sale of historic Credit Suisse to UBS, and First Republic Bank shoring up its capital base.

While the markets are not at ease, the FDIC, the Fed, and key money-center banks have maintained the stability of the US banking system.

Going forward, it is imperative that startups and funds alike formalize banking and investment policies to reduce risk, maintain liquidity, and keep the doors open. Below are three recommendations on how to better manage the “treasury” function at early-stage startups. Another helpful resource was created by FirstMark and can be accessed here.

  • Take a Deep Breath: the Federal Reserve has set up a $25 billion fund to back stop deposits at US banks. While the market continues to be jittery, the US banking system will not fail. That being said, it is prudent for early-stage companies to put in place policies and procedures to strengthen its cash management and provide confidence to customers, employees, and future investors.
  • Diversify Banking Relationships: we encourage startups to keep their existing banking relationships but also open accounts at money-center banks to keep some but not all operating cash (2-3 months). Excess cash can be held in separate banking and money market accounts (at an established brokerage house).
  • Diligence Third-Parties: it is imperative to ask how and where vendors that handle company cash manage that cash to understand your counterparty risk. This includes payroll and credit.

In the News

Secro LogoSecro Completes Historic E-Bill of Lading Transaction
The company successfully completed the first end-to-end transaction in the world without a private rulebook agreement between participants. The Nitron Group used Secro to carry out a buy-sell transaction involving six counterparties located across three continents. The news was featured in the American Journal of Transportation, Global Trade Review, and Bloomberg.

Aperia Technologies logoAperia Announced Growth Equity Fundraise
Led by Lime Rock New Energy, Aperia announced the closing of a $45 million round of growth equity. Click here for the press release.

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