David Peterson, Partner at Angular Ventures | Q and A

Silicon Roundabout
4 min readDec 15, 2022


What inspired you to become a VC and was there a ‘lightbulb’ moment?
As the founder of a bootstrapped company, and an early employee twice over (most recently at Airtable, where I built our first growth team and led partnerships), I get my energy from the messy, early stages of company building. After I left Airtable, I assumed I’d take a few weeks to catch my breath and then get back to building. But I was really drawn to what Gil Dibner had built over at Angular Ventures for one major reason…Angular invests early.

I knew that if I were to make the move into investing, I needed to have the ability to back companies early. Pre-product, maybe even pre-company. Venture capital, in my estimation, is about believing in something before anybody else, not elbowing your way into a company everybody agrees is a good idea. I wanted to partner with founders during those uncertain, messy, early days of company building when support is in short supply. Angular Ventures is perhaps the best example of that type of firm in all of Europe and Israel, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to build it with Gil.

How has your approach to investment decision making evolved from your experiences at Airtable, Founder Collective, CompStak and Angular Ventures?
Each experience brings its own lessons. Here’s a few that come to mind.

Lesson #1: Swing at your own pitch.

Founder Collective is one of the first seed stage funds in the US, and I was lucky enough to work with Eric, Dave and Micah there for two years. They are absolute masters of the craft, and I am constantly hearing their voices in my head. Something I recall Eric saying again and again was how important it is to “swing at your own pitch.” Now I don’t love sports metaphors, especially not exceedingly American ones, but this stuck with me. As an investor, it’s easy to get pulled into investing in something because others think it’s interesting. But that robs you of an opportunity to practice your own swing, and understand what gets you excited. Eric’s real lesson is that repeatable success in investing comes from deeply understanding yourself so you’re ready to swing when the time comes.

Lesson #2: Well-rounded teams are overrated. What I’m looking out for: does the founding team have some foundational, unique insight (technical, market, or otherwise) that will enable them to get one thing really right?

I joined Airtable early, before we had really started our go-to-market or monetization efforts. I left four years later, when our revenue was north of $100M and the team had grown to 650+. Looking back, my biggest takeaway is that it’s much better to do one thing perfectly than it is to do everything decently well. For Airtable, we nailed the product. We made tons of mistakes on everything else (marketing, sales, community, hiring), but because the product was truly paradigm-changing, we continued to grow. As an investor, I’m constantly on the lookout for this dynamic.

How do you assess market size and potential when accessing a business pre-PMF?
I find most addressable market analyses to be complete nonsense. From my point of view, what matters is the underlying assumptions. Here’s the conversation I want to have: what do we all need to believe to be true for this to be a massive business? Let’s talk about those assumptions directly, rather than hiding them in the lines of a TAM analysis.

What have been your biggest mistakes as an investor?
Investors will often say that it’s better to make a mistake of omission (i.e. not investing in a company that turned out to be great), rather than a mistake of commission (i.e. investing in a company that turned out to be bad). Said another way, if you only have so many shots to take, then you want each to be on target.

As an early stage investor, of course, you don’t know which kind of mistake you’ve made for a long, long time. I’m still too early in my journey to know, but I’m sure I’ve already made a bunch of both types of mistakes. Come back to me in a few years and I’ll let you know!

‘Funding squeeze puts Europe start-ups to the test’ (FT 8.12.22)…”Our view is the challenging macro will persist” well into 2023 said Tom Wehmeier,Partner and head of research at Atomico.”There’s no going back at least for a very long time, to the conditions we saw at the end of 2021".. Do you agree?
Early stage venture investors are the furthest possible thing from macro prognosticators, so I won’t pretend. I will say two things. First, most companies I know are missing their numbers right now. It’s tough out there. Second, I thought the latest letter from Howard Marks at Oaktree Capital was good and worth reading. His main point is that pretty much every feature that defined the post-GFC era is no longer true. Fed behavior has gone from highly stimulative to tightened. Mood has gone from optimistic to guarded. The key worry investors have has gone from FOMO to losing capital. We’re in the middle of a sea change, and that type of shift doesn’t just unwind itself overnight.

Originally published at https://www.siliconroundabout.org.uk.



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