Tip Piumsomboon, Principal at Blackbird Ventures
We had the pleasure of catching up with Tip Piumsomboon, Principal at Blackbird Ventures to hear about her journey into Venture Capital and what gets her excited about the New Zealand startup ecosystem. Tip has experienced the life changing effects of working for a startup and her genuine passion for helping others find the same benefits is clear to anyone who crosses her path. Thanks for sharing your insight, Tip.
How would you explain to a five year old what you do?
Big ideas need big belief. We believe in people with big ambitions to improve the world we live in, from a cleaner environment to space exploration to the food we eat. Big ideas need “fuel.”
If you’re going to build a rocketship, you need rocket scientists, labs, bits and bobs for the rocket, and actual fuel! We give “fuel” in the form of community, time and money to the people with big ideas. And in return, we get to be a part of the journey to making those ideas a reality.
“We give “fuel” in the form of community, time and money to the people with big ideas.”
And for the adults, what does a typical day-in-the-life look like as a Principal at Blackbird?
Half of my time is meeting new founders and people in the startup ecosystem either to learn about the company to potentially invest or help people get hired into startups. The rest of my time is split between helping companies we already invest in, community building and mentoring, from organising events to founder outreach to involvement with accelerators.
What did you dream of doing when you were younger and how did you end up at Blackbird?
My dad's career in politics seeded an interest in understanding how economies worked and the Global Financial Crisis fuelled that interest. I studied Finance and started my career as an equities analyst at NZ Super Fund, picking ten stocks to hold for the next ten years - Warren Buffet style!
I wanted to learn more about how companies worked from the inside, so ended up joining a startup to get broad exposure to every facet of building a company, from coding a product to talking to customers to fundraising. I joined Blackbird afterwards as an analyst, which combined my analytical background with the empathy for building a startup.
“You'd be crazy not to want to ride this tailwind to exponentially propel your own life journey and career path.”
Can you tell us a little bit about Blackbird and what you love about working there?
Blackbird is a community of startup founders and operators, investing in the next generation of Australian and New Zealand technology companies. I love how Blackbird's ambition grows every year the bigger we become.
We have epic offsites brainstorming the biggest opportunities for Blackbird and it's incredible how fast we move to make them into reality. The Blackbird NZ Fund was an idea from an offsite and we launched into it a month later. I love the challenge. From learning about new technology to raising a fund to meeting some of the most ambitious people.
“At a startup, you're able to push yourself to your own limits without being constrained by someone else's expectations. ”
What are the key things you look for when investing in a company and how can that apply to people deciding where they might like to work?
In the early stages, founders and team are important. In terms of how this translates to career, ask yourself: Are these the type of people I want to work for and learn from? Do they have a strong company culture that aligns with how I live and work? Are the leaders great communicators?
Understand why now is the right time to build this product, what true customer love for the product looks like and whether there are explosive forces at play that can tenfold your efforts.
Lastly, why should our brightest talent be looking towards our startup ecosystem instead of the more trodden corporate path?
At a startup, you're able to push yourself to your own limits without being constrained by someone else's expectations. The freedom to do things better, the pace at which you can move, the impact you can have and the potential uncapped upside you can earn, far outweighs anything you can experience at a corporate.