Attending the Un-Conference Conference with Eric Woo
The Future Proof Festival is establishing a unique, holistic perspective of financial services by welcoming all to participate. Answering the call is Eric Woo, co-founder and CEO of Revere VC, a startup founded in 2020 to provide wealth managers with a comprehensive, objective ratings framework for venture capital funds. Prior to launching his own company, Eric was Head of Institutional Capital at AngelList, an online venture capital investment platform that participated in the financing of over 190 “unicorn” companies.
Today, Eric leads product development, investment analysis and due diligence for Revere VC, as well as mentoring and coaching the next generation of emerging fund managers. Although he’s a native of northern California, this will be his first trip to Huntington Beach.
In our conversation, Eric explained why the Future Proof Festival is set to be the ultimate un-conference conference, why solid communication is foundational for his business and how our cultural backgrounds influence the ways we invest.
Future Proof: We’re just days away from the Future Proof Festival now. What are you looking forward to about your trip to Huntington Beach?
Eric Woo: I’ve never been to Huntington Beach, so everything’s going to be new, fresh and amazing. I’m also looking forward to the open air concept, with different nooks and places for you to participate. I think that’s going to be a very new conference concept.
I’ve done so many conferences. I’ve spoken at conferences and they’re all ushering you in and directing you where to go. Sometimes I just want to hang out a little bit.
This is like the un-conference, right? It doesn’t feel like you’re at a conference. You’re hanging out; you’re meeting people. You’re going to have a lot more opportunities to find random interactions, compared to the typical conference.
FP: The un-conference conference—I like the ring of that. While you, personally, have been working in the financial services industry for years, Revere VC is still a very new company. Why is now the ideal time to open a business like yours?
Eric: It comes down to demand. There is a thirst for access to innovative companies. But innovation is very, very hard to buy today. Companies in the public markets are just too mature.
Today, there’s also better access to the right deals at the right scale. Somebody like AngelList, where I used to work, can provide a curated access fund that’s packaged in a fund vehicle. You can write a $10,000 check and participate in the asset class. That didn’t exist before.
FP: It’s what you call the “productization of venture capital,” right?
Eric: Exactly. We want investing in venture capital funds to be easy to understand. Obviously transparency is really important, but it’s also about the ease of access and smoothing out capital flow.
FP: What other dynamics go into starting a business like yours?
Eric: I use this word loosely, but culture is really important. It’s a part of the investment mandate. Fifty percent of the funds on our platform have at least one female partner; 50% of the funds on the platform have at least one manager that comes from a minority or underrepresented background.
If you want to appeal to Gen Z, for example, culture has to be a part of the investment decision-making process. A generation of clients is going to invest in something new. There has to be a diversity or an impact component. There has to be a cultural awareness.
FP: You provide your own impact in the industry, by mentoring and coaching emerging fund managers. What do you look for in that cohort?
Eric: If you think about fund managers as the supply, they’re providing great access to innovative companies. I provide coaching in how to express those opportunities in a way that could pass the institutional due diligence process.
They’re not familiar with that and it’s something they have to develop. That’s where we see ourselves as a critical interface, because we know the language of the demand side.
Then, by sitting in that middle, Revere can introduce the supply side to the demand side—across the spectrum of investors—from individuals to large allocators. We produce a very approachable report that’s got all the benefits of institutional due diligence, but is expressed in a way that’s readable. No one’s going to get lost in the weeds. The output right now is something that looks kind of like a Morningstar rating report.
FP: As a financial services veteran, what message would you like to share with investment advisors who are newer to the business?
Eric: You always have to ask yourself, “Why am I seeing this deal? Why is someone coming to me and asking me for money?” It’s having a sense of caution. This is why specialist firms, like Revere, are having their moment and helping the private wealth industry. We’re leveraging our networks and track record in venture capital.
FP: You’re co-located in San Francisco and Hong Kong. What cross-cultural benefits does that provide?
Eric: A wealthy individual in Asia thinks very differently than a wealthy individual here in the U.S. At their core they’re both looking for great returns (and they see venture capital as a means to get great returns), but the way they participate culturally is very different.
As an example, in Asia when wealthy individuals think about venture capital they hear about a particular company and get really excited about the company. They want to put $50 million in that one company. It’s a very binary approach.
Here in the U.S. there’s a difference of approach. I’ll get questions like, “How do I build in diversification? Do I have too much exposure to one company? I want something a little bit more risk averse.”
We like the concept of capital coming into the fund manager versus going into a single company. The concept of funding the funder—versus funding the founder—is where we think this industry can start to have some measurable impact.
A million dollars going to a female GP, and that female GP being able to invest in 30 different companies, has a much wider impact than the capital going directly into a company that might have a female founder.
FP: It’s been a pleasure talking with you and we can’t wait to have you join us at Future Proof this September! What are you most looking forward to about the event?
Eric: When you think about Future Proof, there’s this triangle of music, technology and the advisor community. It’s bringing the best of these different cultural elements and defining them in a way that’s action-oriented.
I think we’re going to be surprised by all that we learn from these other components. We’ll be incorporating those learnings into our investment decisions and client portfolios and moving the needle in a way that’s actionable.
John Swolfs is the Chief Content Officer at Advisor Circle, a product studio for growth-oriented financial professionals. John is responsible for creating dynamic programs for Advisor Circle’s world-class events which include Future Proof festival and Exchange, the world’s leading ETF event.
Future Proof is set to bring together the world’s most prominent figures and emerging minds to explore the intersection of money, tech, culture and impact.
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