GP Interview: Kanyi Maqubela

Kanyi Maqubela is a partner at Kindred Ventures and lives in the Bay Area. This is his Emerging Manager interview.

👉  Big Learning Up Front (B.L.U.F.): Write your investment thoughts in real time to capture them honestly. Use software as part of your decision-making process to move quickly and capture fragmented information effectively.

Kanyi, tell us about yourself

I was born in Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, and was shuttled off to Botswana was I was 2 weeks old, so I have been a refugee chasing freedom just about my whole life. My family ultimately settled in the United States, and I am a child, grandchild, and great-grandchild of teachers. Learning and teaching are the cornerstone of how I move through life. I began my venture journey about 10 years ago, after some time as an entrepreneur. I suspect I’ll be a venture capitalist for a long time.

Describe your fund, Kindred

Kindred Ventures is a seed-stage fund that focuses on investing at the earliest stages in high technology companies globally. We are a lead investor, and we partner deeply with entrepreneurs across sector. 

  • Seed stage is different from every other sector of venture, in that: we are investing before you have ‘made something people want’. As a result, we think of our stage of investing as closer to business science than to private equity, or even to venture. Scalability and replicability only come once you have properly instrumented, hired, and set culture. We help companies instrument, initially hire, and set culture.

  • There are only two of us, and we only invest in 20-25 companies per fund, which means we can work with companies in group chats, slack channels, and constant ongoing chats. This feels like the right form factor for seed-stage.

  • By investing as generalists, it is both harder to win any given investment, but easier to lean into the future. We try to let amazing people we meet inspire us around a world that ‘could be’, rather than deciding what it is beforehand.

  • We try to be learning machines, and so we create gravity around areas of interest -- like collaboration software; industrial automation and supply chains; crypto networks and decentralizing systems -- driven by the strong founders in our portfolio teaching and introducing us.

Share one big learning or process improvement you’ve used individually or as a team which has made you a better fund manager

Writing your thought processes in real time is *so* important. People have a uniquely good ability to rewrite their memory to fit their conception of themselves. By writing thought processes around investments in real time, we are more likely to be intellectually honest, not just with each other, but with our prior selves -- which is so important for learning.

Secondly, we try to move fast by using the collaborative software that product and developer teams use. We’re as likely to be in the same issue-trackers, Kanban systems, and collaborative design and document workspaces as the companies we fund. This allows us to move quickly, have systems of record for our investment work, and to fund companies across a large portfolio, but with a high level of intimacy.

Which founder from your portfolio has had the greatest impact on you and why?

There is a portfolio founder who I won’t embarrass, but who refused to run out of money. He managed to raise capital in drips and drabs over the course of four solid years, simply waiting for the market to catch up to him. When he did, it was clear that resilience was not evenly distributed, and richly rewards those who practice it.

What’s 1 thing you wish you knew before you became a VC?

How long it takes to know… anything.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you recently fell deep into

I’ve been deep in the rabbit hole of payment processors, and why it is that the United States merchant somehow pays significantly higher interchange fees than the European, despite having a unified system, only one currency, and at least as many -- if not more -- technology innovations in processing and payment networks. The history, and the relationships, are fascinating.

Name 1 GP and 1 LP everyone should learn from -- and whom we should feature next

GP: Charles Hudson has been a pioneer across venture: in portfolio construction, stage, and demographics.

LP: Charmel Maynard is perhaps the youngest major university CIO in the country. So interesting.

Finally, what are the 3 best emojis?

🙏, 🙏, and 🙏


Kanyi Maqubela is now on the EM roster at EmergingManager.vc. << View all these EMs, learn from them and then teach me some new things. 

I want to thank Kanyi for spending the time with me on this, and thank you to our mutual friend Dan Bomze for the initial introduction to him. If you are interested in learning more about Kanyi, I recommend his recent podcast interview with Patrick O'Shaughnessy on Invest Like The Best. Kanyi’s contact: @km. 

Thank you  — @reillybrennan, rpb@trucks.vc, Trucks portfolio