The Uncovered Podcast

Ian Rountree of Cantos: How to Start a VC Fund with a “Street MBA”

February 15, 2022 PJC Season 3 Episode 1
The Uncovered Podcast
Ian Rountree of Cantos: How to Start a VC Fund with a “Street MBA”
Show Notes

Episode Summary:
Our first guest of Season 3 is Ian Rountree, Founder of Cantos.  Ian grew up the son of a Marine and a public school English teacher from South Florida.  He was introduced to VC at an early age while visiting his aunt in the bay area who was married to a venture capitalist.  Although Ian’s interest in venture capital came at an early age, his trajectory to starting Cantos zig zagged as he went from graduating with a degree in political science to then working in the nonprofit industry.   Ian’s passion to solve big world problems at scale however led him back to business and finance and working at SoFi.  This ultimately led him to what he calls earning a street MBA in VC, where he began to invest his savings in various startups, 11 to be exact, for which one made it big.  The success of this company led him to starting his own VC fund. To learn more about Ian, his experience starting Cantos and fundraising be sure to tune into this episode and conversation.  

What is Uncovered: 

  • Ian’s path to starting Cantos 
  • How Ian generated deal flow at SoFi and expanded his network for potential LPs 
  • Ian’s first LP Commitment and how it felt to write a check on behalf of someone else 
  • The parallels of starting a VC fund and being an early stage founder
  • The differences between being told ‘No’ from a LP or investor vs. a VC passing on startups 
  • The VC 3.0 community and how it helps emerging managers

Learn more about:

Ian Rountree:
Ian started making angel investments in 2012 while on the early teams at SoFi and then Invisible Technologies. He founded Cantos in 2016 to continue backing world-positive startups at pre-seed and seed. In 2018 Cantos went all-in on "near frontier" startups across cutting edge hardware and wetware with a focus on billion-dollar opportunities in mitigating disease, climate change, poverty, conflict, and existential risk. Cantos manages roughly $50M across several entities, typically investing $500K to $1M, and prefers to be a startup's first investor.

Cantos is a first-round venture capital firm with $50 million under management that invests where the innovation curve casts previously intractable problems in new light –– where new technology might positively impact billions. At a time when venture capital has become synonymous with growth equity, we exist to take the first steps with founders on bold journeys that would have been impossible just years prior. That is, to return venture capital to its roots.

Areas of focus: Clean Tech, Bio + AI, and Aerospace