Christian Johnson, Managing Partner and Co-Founder MulitiPass Ventures
It is an honor to interview you Mr. Johnson. I want to start right off by thanking you for your military service. It is something I really appreciate.You are a busy man so let’s dive right in. Tell us about MultiPass Ventures and how it got started.
Thank you for interviewing me, I am truly honored. Multipass Ventures was created about 6 months ago as the funding arm of MultiPass which operates as an innovation network that helps companies start, grow and scale globally. MultiPass Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm and we are really excited to be created a 20M fund to invest in early stage companies led by women and underrepresented minorities. We are currently raising the fund but expect to make our first investments later this year.
You are also the Chapter Director of Startup Grind in St. Louis. How did that all come about?
You are also the Chapter Director of Startup Grind in St. Louis. How did that all come about? Yes I am really excited about becoming the Chapter Director for Startup Grind Saint Louis. Last December the Startup Grind Global team contacted me and asked if I would be willing to open a chapter in Saint Louis and I immediately said yes. Startup Grind is a global innovation network with 650 chapters across the world and creates fireside chat events. It has really provided me a platform to make a difference in my local ecosystem as well as nationally.
It is evident that you are very passionate about connecting investors and startup founders. What challenges have you encountered early on (and even now) in raising capital?
Early on I had to work hard at convincing investors I was capable of finding the best deals, partly because there is a myth that there is not many diverse companies that are ready for investment. Luckily there is a lot of data that shows that diverse teams perform a lot better than non diverse teams and I was able to gain traction with how I used the data to tell my story. Also finding the people who are capable of writing a check is not an easy task.
On the other side of the coin, what possibilities do you see in connecting a niche group of founders to investors?
I think diverse founders have been underestimated for a long time which has helped them become resilient which is one of the best attributes of successful companies. As an investor, I will be on resilient founders all day long.
Many women and minorities (not all) are new to the venture capital game. For some, they will be first generation entrepreneurs and fund managers like yourself. What do you think has been the “turning of the tide” so to speak with many getting involved in the space now?
I think the world is changing and becoming more diverse and this is affecting how we buy and how we invest. I am really excited about what is happening with more diverse fund managers sprouting up and changing the look of the investing table.
So many startups are hesitant to reach out to investors to access capital. Some think that they don’t have enough traction in their businesses yet, or they don’t know where to begin. What steps would you tell a founder to take if they were seated across from you?
I would say first do your homework on me or any other investor, you need to know at what stage do they invest. If they are a later stage VC it may not be the best idea to pitch them unless you have massive traction. But don’t be afraid to reach out after you have done your reseach and come prepared.
Now for the fun stuff. You are always carrying a camera, so name somewhere in the world where you would love to go to do a photo shoot?
I would love to do a shoot in Madrid, Spain, I am in love with that city.
I am quite sure you are going to make that happen and let us know when you do! Christian, it has been great to talk today. What is the best way for someone to contact you? There are plenty out there that can benefit from what you are doing.
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for hanging out with us Christian!