More Shots on Goal

Robbie Paul

Allbirds founder and former All White, Tim Brown, has joined our team as a Venture Partner. Read Icehouse Ventures CEO, Robbie Paul's perspectives that informed Tim's appointment.


Allbirds founder and former All White, Tim Brown, has joined our team as a Venture Partner

More Shots on Goal

One of my first roles in 2009 was to shadow US angel investor Bill Payne around New Zealand for six months. Bill invested in >100 startups over three decades and was recognised with the Hans Severins Award, the US Angel Capital Association’s highest honour.

Humility was a key theme in Bill’s presentations. Investing in startups is hard. Building one is harder. He had more failures than you could count on two hands – and many of his successes had made it out of “tunnels that we were confident had no light at the end”.

Bill emphasised that one way to improve your odds- to get more shots on goal- is to surround yourself with the best people. Tim is an exciting addition to IV in this sense and not simply because of who he is. It is because of the amazing people he has attracted to his orbit. For Kiwi founders, Tim’s arrival means some of the world’s greatest thinkers and leaders have shifted from 3rd to 2nd connections. They may become 1st.


Transformative investors in transformative Kiwi companies.

Bill’s advice was easier to give than follow. The best people have an abundance of opportunities including many of their own. Why would they apply their limited time, mana, and resources to your new fund or startup?

One answer is that they align with your mission. The chances Tim would have joined the team five years ago would have been very low. Is that because we were a fraction of our size with 15% of today’s FUM? No.

It is because we were a scrappy team fixated on raising funds and investing in “the best” startups. Tim could find dozens of funds of this description within blocks of his house in San Francisco.

Tim is fiercely competitive, but I sense he would rather lose a hard-fought game than walk off the field with a lucky win. Further, he has spent more than a decade founding and growing a company that has proven doing well is tightly coupled with doing good.

The result is he strongly aligns with our mission to be transformative investors in transformative Kiwi companies. To provide consequential support for consequential missions. He joined formally- rather than just as an advisor- because he wants to put in the work to meaningfully impact the success of Kiwi companies.


“VC is an asset class where the best assets pick their investors.”

 That tweet (circa 2018) continued, “So spend less time trying to be a good picker, and more time trying to be worth being picked.”  

This resonated with me because I didn’t enter the venture world with any reason to believe I could pick winners. (And I listened to Bill’s stories from Whangarei to Dunedin.)

Nor did we have many reasons to be picked when we raised $500k for our first fund in 2013. The result was the first fund has delivered a <1x return despite investing in a period when Rocket Lab, Vend, Lanzatech, and Aroa were raising capital. (Side note for the cynics: our 2014 Fund is a 10x.)

Ever since the first fund we have over-invested in resources, events, technology, and people that make us a more attractive partner to founders.

Tim is a top-class addition to the IV mission, though he is not the first. Amazing foundations have been by the likes of Tim Williams (IPO’d two companies in Japan) and Tom Furlong (Current VP of IV and former MD of Granite Ventures) as well as Shaun Quincey (Simfuni) and Brooke Roberts (Sharesies) who have represented founders on the Board of Icehouse Ventures. Nor will he be the last.

Join the mission.

Tim’s appointment is part of an expansion of the team and our resources for founders enabled by the $10m equity raise we closed in December. We are adding another Analyst, Principal, and Legal Counsel to the team and expanding our Advisor Network. There are also many roles open at our portfolio companies. Get in touch if you would like to play a role as an Advisor or Investor.



Tags: Startups, CEO, Growth, Community

Robbie Paul

Written by Robbie Paul

CEO of Icehouse Ventures.