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Skyler (Sky) Fernandes is the Co-founder and General Partner at VU Venture Partners, a venture capital fund. He is also the Founder of Venture University, a multi-stage investment fund and a trade school for venture capital, private equity, and angel investing.

Sky has over 15 years of venture capital and private equity investing experience with over 150 portfolio companies. Prior portfolio companies include Beyond Meat (IPO’d, $14B), Sensity (acquired by Verizon, $300M+), ShopKick (acquired by SK Telecom, $200M), Made In Space (acquired by AE Industrial Partners), and more.

Sky is also the Co-founder of the #1 startup board game, The Next Big Thing: The Game of Entrepreneurship, backed by over 25 top accelerators and VC investors.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Sky Fernandes talks about what they do at VU Venture Partners
  • Sky discusses meeting his business partner and starting the fund
  • How a VC pitches to other VCs
  • Reflections on overestimating the market size and penetration rate
  • Why — and how — Sky invested in Bear Flag Robotics
  • Understanding startup valuation pre-revenue
  • What is Venture University, and who can attend?
  • The male birth control company Sky is funding and why
  • Sky is still raising funds; who can join?

In this episode…

Investing in a startup is a significant risk, but the massive opportunity it holds is too good to pass on, especially for venture capitalists. What do these venture capitalists know that makes them invest millions into certain startups that almost no one has ever heard of? For companies yet to make a dollar in revenue, how do they determine their valuation? And which types of companies do VCs invest in?

Sky Fernandes walks us through these critical questions. According to Sky, a significant deciding factor for VCs to invest in a startup is the market size and how extraordinary the opportunity is in terms of the magnitude of improvements. But getting the hang of these things is not a walk in the park. After 160 investments, Sky would still tell his younger self to have a higher bar of what ‘extraordinary’ is when he makes investments. Ready for a VC masterclass?

Listen to the Inspired Insider Podcast episode with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring the Co-founder and General Partner at VU Venture Partners, Sky Fernandes. They discuss what goes into a startup’s valuation pre-revenue, how Sky chooses companies to invest in, raising capital, and more.

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Jeremy Weisz 0:19

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, Founder of I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. We have Sky Fernandes of VU Venture and you can check them both out before I formally introduce Sky, I always like to point out other episodes, people should check out the podcast and since you’re you have some amazing portfolio companies that you’ve invested in and serve. And so I’m trying to think of some of the cool ones that we’ve had on the podcast, Active Campaign was a really interesting one. If anyone’s heard of Active Campaign, the email, marketing, and email, you know, you can send out great emails to your list. Pipedrive I remember when I interviewed Pipedrive they had I think 10,000 customers, now they I think, have over 100,000 customers and so you just see the growth and trajectory of some of these companies and, and that and so many more you can check out and this episode is brought to you by Rise25 at Rise25 We’ll businesses give to connect their dream 100 relationships, and how do we do that we help you run your podcast. You know, for me Sky, the number one thing in my life is relationships, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that than a profile the people and the companies I most admire on this planet have my podcast and they can share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should be have questions go to or email us [email protected] and today I’m Sky Fernandez and I was mentioning, you know, there’s, there’s, I can probably go on Sky for 1520 minutes on on the accolades, but I’m gonna hit a few of the highlights here, ranked top 100 powerlist VC 10 plus years of VC, private equity investing 100 Plus portfolio companies, you know, you know, some of them include like Beyond Meat, sensitivity, Shopkick Maven space, Fab bit fun a bear flags, robotics, which was acquired by John Deere for 10 and $50 million for managing director of investments at Cleveland Avenue, which was co founded by the former CEO and President of McDonald’s, and they focus on food and beverage brands. And the list goes on and on and on. So and even even a board game, co founder of a board game, the Next Big Thing, the game of entrepreneurship, you know, I’m gonna have to get

Sky Fernandes 2:42

that we’re gonna be able to get that. You get it done by going to thenext as well as Amazon. Yeah.

Jeremy Weisz 2:49

Awesome. We got to play that at home with the kids. I love it. Sky. Thanks for joining me. Honestly, I

Sky Fernandes 2:55

have to Thanks for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Weisz 2:56

So talk to me about Vu Venture Partners and what you do.