Hey, I'm Gianfranco Filice. I currently operate as an investment partner @ OVO Fund, a premier pre-seed institutional VC firm based in Menlo Park, California. I focus on all things related to fintech, payments, and web3/crypto.
🎒 I graduated from Stanford in 2020 with a BA in Economics
- 🖋️ On Deck Angel Fellowship - Cohort 5 (2021)
- 🏦 Barclays - Technology Investment Banker
- 💱 Realization Capital Partners - Growth Equity Investor
- 🤷 Goldman Sachs - Marcus by Goldman Sachs Product Manager
- ✈️ McKinsey & Company - Business Analyst
- 📈 Matrix Partners - Co-Op Analyst
- 🧄 Grew up in the Garlic Capital of the World
- 🇮🇹 Father is from Italy (proficient in Italian)
- 🇸🇻 Mother is from El Salvador
- ⛷️ Avid Skier
- ❄️ Arc’teryx Gear Head
- 🧳 Spent 1 month living in three separate countries
- 🧑💼 Started my first company in high school and successfully funded my project on Kickstarter
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August 8, 2023
Siri Gets an MBA: Autonomous Agents and The 1-Person Unicorn
This essay explores how advancements in autonomous software agents powered by AI could allow solo founders to achieve outcomes comparable to entire teams. It envisions a future where individuals leverage networks of intelligent agents as empowering productivity multipliers. However, it also highlights reasoning and security challenges to address as this technology evolves.
June 27, 2023
An Approachable Primer on the Layers of AI and LLMs
This article provides an accessible primer on the fundamentals of AI, focusing on generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs). It discusses the building blocks of AI, including Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and the facets within Deep Learning that give rise to LLMs. The article also covers the components that make LLMs possible, such as Neural Networks, Weights, Deep Learning, Transformer models, Tokens, and Embeddings.
May 12, 2023
Mental Modes and Pre-Seed Founders
In the article "Mental Models and Pre-Seed Founders," the author discusses the importance of mental models and heuristics in guiding investment decisions and providing valuable insights for early-stage founders. The article presents several rules, each with a problem or situation, a case study, and its application to pre-seed founders.
April 26, 2023
The Token Mentality
The article discusses the "Token Mentality" in the context of Web3 and cryptocurrency investing. It highlights the tendency of investors to focus on short-term price speculation and market events, which can lead to misguided investment decisions and a lack of attention to long-term fundamentals. The author argues that most investors struggle to predict short-term outcomes and that conversations on price don't matter due to the difficulty of knowing which information is already priced in. The article emphasizes the importance of focusing on long-term value and resisting the urge to trade in pursuit of short-term profits.
April 10, 2023
How AI Has Turned My Work Into Flow - Part II
In the article "How AI Has Turned My (VC) Work Into Flow (Part II)", the author discusses the impact of AI on their venture capital work, specifically in outbound sourcing, programming, and note-taking. AI has transformed their workflow by helping with cold outreach, learning to program, and taking notes during meetings. The author uses ChatGPT to craft personalized cold emails, learn programming concepts, and understand code.
March 28, 2023
In the article "How AI Has Turned My (VC) Work Into Flow (Part I)," the author discusses the benefits of using AI tools in their venture capitalist work. They mention that AI has made their work more enjoyable and efficient, particularly in the areas of writing essays and assessing market trends. The author shares their experience using AI tools like Lex and ChatGPT to help with writing, outlining, and editing. These tools have helped overcome the "cold-start" problem and streamline the writing process.
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November 8, 2021
In this moving piece, the author talks about his shift in perspective about time, particularly as it pertains to relationships with family and friends. Realizing he is in the 'tail end' of the time left with his parents and high school friends, he prioritizes spending quality moments with them over pursuing personal achievements. This paradigm shift helps him appreciate the fleeting nature of relationships, transforming his view of his family from a hindrance to his personal development into a cherished part of his life.
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March 30, 2022
In the Web3 world, foundational knowledge often feels elusive, especially for those of us joining post-2020 bull run. It's essential to grasp the core ethos: inclusivity, interoperability, and transparency. I'm breaking down Web3 into bite-sized chunks, reframing the known to help foster understanding and build confidence - join me on this journey.
April 11, 2022
You’re Early: Why Web3 Doesn’t Make Sense
Transitioning from Web1 to Web2 brought interactivity, while emerging Web3 heralds digital ownership and decentralized collaboration via tokens and DAOs. Understanding Web3’s transformative potential is both a time commitment and a necessity. It's a collective endeavor to shape this tech, influencing how we'll collaboratively work in the future.
May 5, 2022
Bitcoin, Blockchains, and Ledgers: Oh My!
The piece demystifies blockchain, outlining it as a verifiable chain of transaction blocks, held together by unique cryptographic hashes and maintained by a peer-to-peer network. It delves into essential blockchain facets, including tokens, protocols, cryptography, tokenomics, consensus mechanisms, addresses, and block explorers. In essence, it's an intricate ledger of historical state changes.
May 11, 2022
Securing the Network with Proof of Work
Unpacking Proof of Work (PoW) within the blockchain, especially Bitcoin, the article posits it as a security mechanism facilitating trust in a decentralized network. Through solving hefty computational puzzles, PoW dissuades network corruption by making it economically punitive for bad actors, rewarding validated blocks with tokens. However, it does flag PoW's drawbacks including inefficiency, high energy use, and costly validator fees.
June 4, 2022
Bitcoin+: Hard and Soft Forks
Forks in decentralized blockchains, categorized by Open-Source, Permissionless, and Public attributes, are explored in the article. The discussion underlines the role of forks, either hard or soft, in driving Web3 development and promoting innovation through diverse use cases, illustrated by Ethereum's smart contracts or Solana, Avalanche, Algorand, and NEAR. The article also emphasizes data decentralization as a significant optimization in both public and permissioned blockchains, citing Estonia's use of a permissioned blockchain.
July 5, 2022
Why Cryptography Matters
The article examines the pivotal role of cryptography in secure communication, password management, and digital security, with applications ranging from World War II to blockchain technology. It elaborates on the use of hash functions and public-key cryptography in blockchain, enhancing identification, verification, and overall security. The piece underscores that cryptography is indispensable for fostering trust and fortifying transactions in the digital realm.
July 15, 2022
What’s In Your (Web3) Wallet?
The piece explores blockchain wallets as software that maintain your essential keys and blockchain address to enable interaction with blockchain networks. It underlines that the wallets hold keys pointing to tokens recorded in the blockchain, rather than the cryptocurrency itself, and details how these keys and addresses are generated for enhanced security. It emphasizes the critical importance of safeguarding private keys, given the potential loss of tokens if these keys are compromised.
August 17, 2022
Web3: Decentralized Identity
The piece juxtaposes Web2's limitations against Web3's potential, specifically regarding decentralized identity, despite the challenges in identifying superior Web3 applications over current Web2 solutions. The author critiques centralized identity management issues like fraud, control deficits, and power centralization. They advocate for decentralized identity as a promising Web3 application that could revolutionize identity management standards and enhance personal data control, empowering individuals to own their digital identities.
September 26, 2022
Smart Contracts: The How Behind Web3 - Part I
Part one of a two-part series dives into smart contracts and their pivotal role in propelling Web3 by facilitating peer-to-peer internet transactions without intermediaries, thereby reducing friction and enabling an intrinsic internet settlement layer. The author explores early smart contract applications, like decentralized finance and real-world asset tokenization.
October 5, 2022
Smart Contracts: The How Behind Web3 - Part II
Part two of this two-part series further explores the intricacies of smart contracts, highlighting features like immutability, and outlining potential strategies for contract amendments and editing. The article enumerates prevalent vulnerabilities at various deployment levels, including Solidity, Ethereum Virtual Machine, and the Blockchain itself. The author underscores the importance of understanding these vulnerabilities and the necessity of exhaustive testing when building businesses on a foundation of smart contracts.
November 28, 2022
Why Web3 Is Here To Stay: A Reflection on Community
The article "Why Web3 Is Here To Stay: A Reflection on Community" provides the author's viewpoint on the recent Web3 bull market, examining its swift investment pace, speculative character, and lack of thorough investigation. The author also scrutinizes the realm of decentralized finance (DeFi), emphasizing the intricate tokenomics and emergent game-theoretic approaches. Despite facing various criticisms and hurdles, the author holds the conviction that Web3's relevance remains, with the possibility of reaching widespread adoption if certain necessary conditions are fulfilled by its creators.
February 3, 2023
Web3 Tokens Decoded: A First Principles Analysis
The article "Web3 Tokens Decoded: A First Principles Analysis" delves into the purpose and function of Web3 tokens within decentralized protocols, covering fundamental cryptocurrency concepts and different types of tokens, comparing them to real-world items like gift cards. The author accentuates that the main distinction between conventional tokens and cryptographic ones is the reliance on code and decentralized networks. Additionally, the article examines the possible applications of tokens, including their use in digital identity systems and the concept of non-transferable tokens.
|Resource Name||Tags||Resource Link||Summary|
Go To Market
The Product-led Growth for Sales-Led Guide discusses how sales-led organizations can explore and implement product-led growth (PLG) strategies. The guide explains that PLG focuses on providing a different customer experience with less control by enhancing self-serving capabilities. It shifts the focus from process control to quality control, allowing customers to make decisions based on the product's value. The guide also highlights the challenges sales-led companies face when implementing PLG, as they often lack the necessary conditions and need to learn basic product management. The guide provides a detailed plan for implementing PLG, including understanding the differences between sales-led and product-led growth, and finding ideal customer profiles and success signals.
Leah’s Guide to Product Market Fit
Leah Tharin's Product Market Fit Guide provides an in-depth understanding of product-market fit (PMF), its importance, and how to achieve it. PMF is defined as the extent to which users love a product and whether the market for it is large enough. It is crucial for business growth and is the most common reason for startup failure.
Resonate by Nancy Duarte [Book]
Presentations are meant to inform, inspire, and persuade audiences. So why then do so many audiences leave feeling like they've wasted their time? All too often, presentations don't resonate with the audience and move them to transformative action. Just as the author's first book helped presenters become visual communicators, Resonate helps you make a strong connection with your audience and lead them to purposeful action. The author's approach is simple: building a presentation today is a bit like writing a documentary. Using this approach, you'll convey your content with passion, persuasion, and impact.
The author of the article shares their experience of raising a $3 million seed round for Mentava, an edtech startup, from over 50 high-profile angel investors, despite being a solo, non-technical, first-time founder without an impressive resume or connections. The author's fundraising strategy, called "intro-driven fundraising," involved creating a spreadsheet of dream investors, seeking connections to those investors, and perfecting their pitch to ensure it was compelling enough for investors to want to introduce them to others. The author spent four months refining their storytelling, presentation skills, and product explanation before actively pursuing their dream investors. The fundraise took about four weeks of full-time effort once the pitch was perfected, and the round was successfully closed with more than 50 investors
Values and Foundation
The key idea of the video is that embracing discomfort, pursuing personal passions, and creating one's own narrative are essential for achieving personal and financial success. • Investing successfully is about finding opportunities with high potential and focusing on exceptional management and industry capacity, while living an asymmetric life means embracing challenges and avoiding comfort to achieve personal and financial success. • Push yourself to row harder and embrace discomfort to achieve growth in all aspects of life, as suffering is inevitable but necessary for progress. • Factor in your personal preferences and values when making decisions, pursue your own dreams even if it means doing hard things, and focus on what you love to live a fulfilling life. • If you dedicate years to improving and working towards your goals, and hire the best coach, you can overcome any obstacle and achieve success by focusing on your ultimate goal, creating a plan, and building an incredible team. • Change your story, set goals, align your day, attract like-minded people, and make things happen in your life to achieve success in business and create a sense of magic; the speaker's company's story about Joe leaving the hedge fund to focus on climate change has made a significant impact and received gratitude from investors, leaving the audience questioning their own path. • You have the power to shape your own life story, so take on challenges, stay true to yourself, and create your own narrative. • Pursue opportunities, overcome fear, and embrace suffering to live a fulfilling life; underestimate your power when not pursuing passions, start writing your own story today. • You have magic inside of you, and the only question you need to answer is whether you will give yourself permission to lead and live your own special life.
"How to Build a Better Pitch Deck" is a resource for entrepreneurs creating pitch decks. The author discusses each slide in depth, provides storytelling frameworks, and offers examples. The pitch deck is described as a sales document built on the past to sell the future. The author emphasizes the importance of uniqueness in pitches and advises learning conventions while maintaining a focus on telling a great story. The article covers various topics, including problem, solution, product, market, competition, business model, go-to-market strategy, financials, team, traction, and title page & ask.
Whether you're trying to get a new company off the ground or scale an existing business to the next level, you need to understand how VCs think. In Secrets of Sand Hill Road, Kupor explains exactly how VCs decide where and how much to invest, and how entrepreneurs can get the best possible deal and make the most of their relationships with VCs.
Zero to One [Book]
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Part 2 - When the VCs say “no” [Essay]
This article discusses what to do when venture capitalists (VCs) say "no" to funding your startup. It advises entrepreneurs to keep meeting with more VCs and to retool their plan if they consistently receive negative responses. The article introduces the "onion theory of risk," which outlines various layers of risk that startups face, such as founder risk, market risk, competition risk, and technology risk. Entrepreneurs should address these risks and make necessary changes to their plan to increase their chances of securing funding. The article also emphasizes the importance of taking "no" gracefully and maintaining a positive relationship with VCs for potential future opportunities.
How To Do Great Work [Essay]
Values and Foundation
This essay provides advice on how to do great work, emphasizing the importance of choosing the right field, developing curiosity, working on personal projects, and cultivating originality. It highlights the significance of finding something you're deeply interested in and the value of learning from setbacks. The author encourages focusing on intrinsic motivation rather than seeking external validation and stresses the role of perseverance and self-belief in accomplishing great work.
Lecture 5. Market Research, Wireframing, Design.pdf [Lecture Notes]
The success of a startup hinges on the idea, execution, and market. A founder needs to navigate the idea maze to understand the challenges of bringing the idea to life. Design principles discussed include graphics, alignment, repetition, contrast, proximity, fonts, icons, and the use of stock media.
Raise Less, Build More
Founders are increasingly opting for a hybrid funding approach that combines targeted venture capital with bootstrapping to build enduring companies. The trend of VCs offering more money has led to larger fund sizes, but there is no conclusive evidence that raising more capital increases a startup's success. Smaller funds historically achieve higher returns, but bigger funds pay more to GPs. Founders are realizing the drawbacks of excessive capital and are embracing a "raise less, build more" strategy, aiming for profitability while strategically raising capital for growth and brand benefits.
Maze. Focus: The Last Superpower?
Values and Foundation
In the article "Maze. Focus: The Last Superpower?" the author discusses the importance of focus in achieving success. Focus has two dimensions: macro focus, which is concentrating on what is important, and micro focus, which is staying focused on the task at hand. Successful individuals like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs have mastered both dimensions of focus, allowing them to achieve great success in their respective fields. The article highlights the importance of maintaining focus in a world filled with distractions. It cites examples of how Gates, Jobs, and Buffett structured their lives and environments to minimize distractions and maximize focus. For instance, Gates removed the TV receiver and car radio to avoid distractions, while Buffett closed window shutters and kept stacks of reading materials on his desk. The author also emphasizes the increasing difficulty of maintaining focus in today's world, with technology providing both leverage and distractions. Examples of individuals who have managed to maintain focus in this environment include Andrew Huberman and David Senra, both podcast hosts with clear missions and relentless daily focus. To improve micro focus, the author suggests various techniques, such as meditation, calming or activating breathing exercises, and caffeine consumption in moderation. Additionally, the author recommends listening to Huberman's episodes on focus for more ideas.
Quote I’m Pondering
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern.”