Croom Beatty, Menlo Ventures
How did you start in venture capital?
I started my career in tech investing kind of right out of undergrad. I worked at Susquehanna Growth Equity, where I started focusing on the capital markets, technology, and then payments and banking infrastructures. I worked on special projects around banking structure and then worked with expanding into different countries and worked with small and medium businesses.
Then I went to Payoneer. It was a great experience, but I really wanted to get back into venture. The one complaint about being in venture is that you’re, like, an inch deep and a mile wide — sometimes when you’re operating, you’re an inch wide and a mile deep. So I really missed the somewhere in between; this was what I was looking for, where you’re able to kind of talk to entrepreneurs who are solving different problems.
What areas do you normally focus on?
I do everything in fintech, although if you look at my investments I would say it’s more on the enterprise side of things. I naturally gravitate more to B2B companies. But when you really look closely, a lot of those companies end up looking a little bit more like consumer-facing ones. Some companies provide software for solo entrepreneurs or resellers, contractors, and the like, so they look a lot like consumer solutions.
Are you still seeing some strength in the fintech sector?
I think some of the pullback was expected, because a lot of the companies were valued like software businesses when they were not software businesses. If you look at insurance and lending companies, they were treated like very expensive software-as-a-service businesses. There’s also the case of Robinhood and Coinbase where they experience feedback loops, so when asset prices are rising and more people are interested in the assets that trade on their platforms, they make more on each trade — but the prices are dropping, so they’re making less.
Ultimately, though, where I’m bullish about fintech is in areas that know there are so many people who have no access to best-in-class tools. Cash, checks, and the wire are still dominant. There are these really old legacy systems that are still in place, and so much of their functionality is past its time. It’s amazing when you look at B2B trade networks like distributors, manufacturers, and all that where invoices are still pen and paper. There are still a lot of areas that are changing, so I’m very bullish on that.