Q & A with Donray!
I had the pleasure of interviewing Donray Von – Idea Generator/Investor/Partner in LA who stays low-key and isn’t a big talker, but don’t be fooled – he does big deals! I wanted to interview him after finding out that 4 of his investments were acquired in the last few months, which I thought was pretty extraordinary!
Joanna: You’ve had 4 of your startup investments acquired in the last 10 months. Are acquisitions your ideal situation when investing?
Donray: As an investor the primary goal is Return On Investment. The path to that can come from either an acquisition or Initial Public Offering. So far I have had only acquisitions, but I see IPO’s in my future.
Q: 4 acquisitions in 10 months is a lot! What percentage of your entire portfolio is that?
DV: I’ve participated in 11 venture investments and having 4 acquisitions is a good start. But I’m most excited about the companies that remain in the portfolio and their potential to surpass $100 Million in enterprise value. I do believe in unicorns…companies whose value reaches over $1 Billion. Do I have one in the portfolio yet? We’ll see.
Q: Tell us about some of the portfolio companies you’re excited about.
DV: Fuisz, a LA based company that helps brand make videos interactive, was just covered in the Wall Street Journal chronicling the amazing response they received at Cannes advertising festival. Wal-Mart, Kraft and Ford are early clients.
Speakaboos is an early education platform that uses technology and storytelling to engage kids. A couple of the co-investors are Sheri Redstone, daughter of Sumner Redstone Chairman of Viacom, and Betty Cohen former CEO of Cartoon Network. Deals with Samsung, YouTube and Sesame Street are going make them unstoppable.
Speakr is social media advertising company that developed a suite of technologies to manage influencer-marketing programs. We are proud to be an investor in them, the founder Marco Hansell is an African American and diversity is important to me. They have more than 50 major clients including Microsoft, HTC, and every major movie studio. Most importantly, they are experiencing hyper growth and are on track to more than triple their annual revenue.
Q: Do you invest in angel or seed rounds?
DV: Both, at some point they are one in the same. Although seed rounds are now being called ‘Baby A’s’, which are driving the valuations of companies up. But I believe the market sets the price and we are all grown ups making our own decisions.
Q: Do you invest solo?
DV: I try never to do a deal alone. Investing is a team sport. It’s the value of the network that can sometimes be the multiplier. You want good co-investors in the deal, that’s the only way to sleep at night.
Q: Should startups pitch you, and if so how? Or do you find them – and how?
DV: LinkedIn is a good way to reach me. Venture networks and incubators also help cut through the noise. I should use Twitter more, maybe I’ll hire a person to follow me and post ‘Shit Donray Says’…
Q: What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from investing?
DV: It cost money to invest money. Traveling, infrastructure, legal fees, due diligence. All need to be considered!
Q: Do you have a successful person you emulate?
DV: (Long Pause)… I’d say David Geffen; I’ve read his bio ‘The Operator’ multiple times.
I also started in the music business as a manager working with successful artist like OutKast, Cody ChesnuTT and the Roots. Always knew music was a stepping-stone into different business sectors. I once held out on a music license negotiation until the head of a movie studio called, because I knew it was the perfect song. Once he finished screaming at me for saying no, he finally said ‘Do me this favor’… I now have the head of a studio that owes me a favor.
Q: Ha! Ok, next question – what advice would you give your beginning un-experienced self if you could?
DV: Trust your instincts. You must see 30 deals to find 1 worth doing.
Take chances. Be patient. Grow thick skin, money can quickly change the dynamic of any deal.
Q: What are you looking for now as far as ideal investments and also fund goals?
DV: In addition to technology, I’m also interested in high yield debt right now because I’ve been connected to American and Asian Billionaire investors who are seeking yield. They see it as a fixed income strategy; I see it as a way to build long-term relationships.
Q: How should people keep up with you?
DV: Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, It’s a plane! I’m kidding. Not really. Can you help me tweet more? I’m busy reading business plans.
Joanna: And there you have it – Q&A with Donray!