Funder Profile: Kat Utecht (WG11)
MEET KAT UTECHT — INVESTING IN SOLUTIONS FOR MEANINGFUL WORLD ISSUES
Kat Utecht is Managing Partner of her family office and Partner Emeritus at Core Innovation Capital, a leading venture capital firm investing in financial services and future of work companies empowering everyday Americans. Portfolio companies include Ripple, Oportun, Mirador, and Mosaic.
Kat has a combination of corporate venture capital, entrepreneurship, investment banking and operational experience that gives her a unique perspective when investing in startups.
Previously, Kat was both an investor and the Entrepreneur in Residence in the New York office of Comcast Ventures. She is passionate about investing in market-based solutions for meaningful world issues.
Prior to Comcast Ventures, Kat was CEO of Green Rock Entertainment, a commerce company acquired by a private equity firm in 2009.
In 2008, Kat’s achievements as an entrepreneur were honored by Ernst & Young, where she continues to mentor and serve as a judge. In this recent article published by EY, she speaks about making a profit while serving the underserved. She is also an advisor for Sky’s The Limit, an organization helping underrepresented entrepreneurs start small businesses.
Kat began her career in financial services, both as a middle-market investment banker for Raymond James and a graduate of General Electric Capital’s Financial Management Program. Kat has an MBA from Wharton School and a BS from Babson College.
How did you break into venture capital?
My background was in financial services and as an operator (CEO of a startup), so I could do venture or run another company. Otherwise, I’m unemployable!
How do you get conviction around an investment?
It has to be a team I truly love solving an issue that I need to see resolved in this world. Venture is the long game, so believing in the people you are backing and genuinely caring about the problem being solved is very important to me. I gain conviction through spending time with and referencing the founders and going deep into the market to understand the needs that could be there.
What is the last company you invested in and why?
Many of the most recent companies I invested in are in stealth mode. I invested in all of them because I was obsessed with the team and the problem they were solving.
What is one trend you’re bullish on in the next 10 years and why?
Transparency in healthcare pricing and an overall reduction in healthcare costs. It’s a bipartisan issue — we all know that healthcare is too expensive and the charges are usually difficult to understand upfront and even after the fact. I am backing many companies that are helping in facets of this arena so you do not end up with surprise healthcare bills.
Do you have any advice for aspiring founders on how to create a persuasive and effective pitch deck?
Remember that the pitch deck is to get to a follow up meeting. Investors will do due diligence as they dig in. Make sure you make a good first impression briefly and don’t throw in unnecessary details. Highlight the team, traction, market opportunity and make sure it’s in brief bullets or visuals. Many people will skim through the deck and only will deep dive if you capture their attention first.
What is one piece of advice you consistently give to female founders?
To all founders: Nothing is usually ever as good or as bad as it seems. Startups are full of ups and downs and I try to have my founders moderate as much as possible.
Tell us about your fund and your investment focus
We believe in mercenary returns through missionary investments in financial services and insurance technology.
- We believe the most valuable companies will create outsize value for the mass market.
- We back the best teams who share this mission.
- We’re a thesis driven fund and have been investing in and around fintech and insurance even before our first fund closed in 2011.
We are interested in:
- Modernizing financial and insurance infrastructure. Companies like Ripple, SynapseFI, and Noyo.
- Expanding access to better financial services and insurance. Companies like Oportun, Nerdwallet, and Healthsherpa.
- We also care deeply about small business, the future of work and other ways to improve the household P&L — as in companies like Gerry, Decent, and Mighty Buildings.
- We predominantly invest in Seed and Series A, up to $10MM initial checks
- We like to lead, though can follow. We reserve about 60% of our fund for follow on investments.
- Most of investment team are former operators. We want to be the types of investors we wish we had.
- For founders: you’re the race car driver and we’re the pit crew. We help you go faster without the wheels coming off. We are good for our contacts — regulatory (e.g. state insurance regulators, CFPB), people flow (internal database for hiring), commercial contracts (e.g. insurers / reinsurers; lenders / debt capital, SaaS customers) — and to bounce ideas off of since we are so focused. We’ll be one of your top VCs (feel free to reference our CEOs, who we survey and consistently rank us as their best investor).