It’s Never a Straight Line in Entrepreneurship with Boris Wertz

portrait of Boris Wertz
Boris Wertz Boris Wertz is one of the top early-stage tech investors in North America and the founding partner of Version One Ventures. His portfolio encompasses over 100 early-stage consumer internet and enterprise companies. Boris is also a board partner with Andreessen Horowitz. Before becoming an investor, Boris was the Chief Operating Officer of, the world’s largest marketplace for new, used, and rare and out-of-print books which got sold to Amazon in 2008.

Things to look out for when investing in a founder or startup

  • The most important thing at the early stage of investing into a team of entrepreneurs, is how passionate they  are about the area/problem they’re pitching.  If an entrepreneur is not passionate about solving the problem that they’re pitching, they will fizzle out from the entrepreneurs they’re competing against.
  • The second thing is ambition. Venture capital is focused on trying to back the outliers. The companies that can turn into standalone companies go public, and become a generational company are more likely to gain interest from investors. 
  • Storytelling abilities are becoming more important now.  If you can’t tell a compelling story. It’s going to be hard to raise money, it’s going to be hard to recruit employees. It’s going to be hard to incentivize partners to work with you.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a Venture Capitalist

  • There are two ways to become a Venture Capitalist. The first one is by joining an existing firm as an analyst associate and working your way up.  Large firms have very good programs, where they hire dozens of associates and analysts every year. 
  • The other way that you become a Venture Capitalist yourself. Start with a small fund, and overtime prove out your investment and prove out your returns. Through this route you’re able to raise larger funds and get into that position.

  • Younger VC’s now take a different route by running their own Substack, having incredible TikTok followings, and even Twitter followers. They build their insights and deals through their social media presence that builds their credibility.

What are the types of marketplace that most excite you from an investment perspective?

  • A marketplace is ultimately a platform where you connect buyers and sellers around a product or service. There’s been a rise in managed marketplaces. Where they manage transactions, rather than connecting buyers and sellers, an example is Zillow homes, which basically enables real estate transactions. 
  • The marketplace that is the most exciting to watch right now is the intersection of what’s happening in blockchain and crypto. A lot of VC’s and crypto blockchain are creating a new way of peer to peer exchanges around financial products.  
  • Something that is super fascinating in the new generation of marketplaces is there’s no middleman. It’s a protocol that enables the connection of buyers and sellers that there’s no company in between or does anything to take a fee from that.