David Wu is a Partner at Maveron, a consumer-focused VC based in San Francisco with over $1 billion under management. David holds two degrees from Stanford and has served as a board member for the GRAMMY Foundation.
David has led the fund’s investments in August Home, Illumix, Eargo, Booster, Inkbox, and Modern Fertility, among others. Maveron’s portfolio includes notable investments in Allbirds, Keeps, Elysium, Everlane, General Assembly, eBay, Neighborhood Goods, and Necessaire.
On intermittent fasting. Each day my Amazon Echo Spot on my nightstand goes off to the gradual crescendo of Coldplay’s Sky Full of Stars. Usually, it’s at 7 am, but on travel days it goes off at 4:40 am. I typically go straight from bed to a morning hot shower, followed by getting dressed, and immediately checking my email, social media, and daily news. Last year I started intermittent fasting. I usually only eat between noon and 9 pm except if I have an important business breakfast or late business dinner or special occasion.
I've really enjoyed this change to my life as it takes the hassle out of dealing with a rushed morning breakfast, allows me to sleep a few extra minutes, and lets me appreciate lunch and dinner even more. I also feel healthier, and it’s easier to manage my calorie intake. From there it’s into the car for my morning commute (often over an hour). I’ve gotten to really appreciate the synergy between newer auto technology like auto-pilot and doing founder office hours from the car.
On bad recommendations. I often hear people give bad advice to entrepreneurs around fundraising. Entrepreneurs are often encouraged to view the process as transactional rather than approaching it as the formation of a critical relationship. This is especially true of first-time entrepreneurs, where they can easily underestimate the importance of choosing the right venture investor for that first large round of funding.
When you take the leap with a venture investor, it's like choosing a spouse or hiring an exec team member that you can't fire. You really have to share the same vision as that individual, and be willing to work with them for the long haul. I think a lot of first-time entrepreneurs take that decision too lightly and think it's just about the money.
On his mission statement. "Win the right way.” This is also one of Maveron’s four core values. Since I first crossed over from spending most of my life as an entrepreneur to becoming a professional investor, my North Star has been to be prove that you can be “best in class” in terms of financial success, while at the same time becoming “the VC I always wish I had as an entrepreneur.” Even today, venture capital is still a fairly opaque business, and there are so many short term trade-offs that one can make that are not always in the best interest of the entrepreneurs.
Venture is such a competitive and difficult business that it is often tempting to lose perspective and begin winning the wrong way. As Mark Twain said, “Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” I (and the entire team at Maveron) aim to be astonishing in our capacity for doing the right thing, especially when it’s hard. After all, I believe success isn’t success if you do not stay true to your core values.
On wellness investing. As a venture fund focused exclusively on direct-to-consumer brands, we see a huge opportunity in the area of health & wellness. At the same time, the degree of complexity in this category creates a lot of nuance as to where venture scale opportunities will emerge. On one hand, we are seeing huge tailwinds in consumer behavior. There is an unprecedented demand from consumers to take more responsibility for their health & wellness goals into their own hands. We are also seeing technological advancements that allow consumers to finally be able to monitor every aspect of their physical self as a closed loop system and a price point that is approaching mass.
On the other hand, a deeper dive into the United States healthcare system only gives an appreciation as to how dysfunctional it actually is. Because of all antibodies in the existing healthcare system to new innovation, we believe that startups have the best chance of breaking out if they can find a path to acquire end consumers on their own and ideally add enough value to monetize those customers directly. In these scenarios, navigating the existing healthcare system becomes just upside.
On life hacks. I have two life hacks that I’ve found really valuable in the past year. The first is that I discovered that in iOS you can use spell check to replace a single keyword with entire paragraphs of canned text. This has allowed me to do more of my daily email on my iPhone without having to wait to log on from a laptop, and this hack is even faster than using Superhuman snippets.
The second life hack is that I started working out regularly in virtual reality to get my cardio workout. I grew up as an athlete, and I love playing sports of any kind, but I also hate going to the gym, and running on a treadmill or cycling on a stationary bike is even worse. This past year, I’ve found that I can get a great workout in VR (apps like BoxVR, Beat Saber, or even Echo Arena), and time passes much quicker and enjoyable for me than other daily exercise options, while still getting a great cardio workout.
I realize the hardware for VR in the home market is still high maintenance and not yet ready for mass consumer adoption, but I feel like I get a glimpse of the future and a much more enjoyable workout experience at the same time.
On his sleep routine. I try and go to sleep at a consistent time as much as possible, and also do my best to get 6-7 hours of sleep each night. Also as an investor, I travel abroad several times a year for very short durations, and when I do, I do my best to ignore the local time zone, and basically keep my sleep schedule as close to the Bay Area time zone as much as practically possible.
I also find it to be a nice ritual to end each day watching something funny on television with my wife in bed. We’re both suckers for a Rotten Tomatoes critics-50%, audience-90% rated stupid funny TV show or movie. This helps me not take life too seriously, adds some separation after a busy day, and allows me to fall asleep with a smile on my face.
— David Wu, Partner at Maveron