Lucinda Linde, "Engineer, VC, Consultant, Angel"

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Upon graduating in the upper strata of her engineering class at MIT, Lucinda Linde was promptly accepted at Harvard Business school. She worked as an engineer in two successful tech companies, one of which was co-founded by Clayton Christensen of “Innovator’s Dilemma” fame. Her incisive intellect and practical outlook were prized by giants such as HBS’ Howard Stevenson (Link to Howard Stevenson's Interview - Our Most Downloaded Podcast) who hired her to study best practices in angel investing. Lucinda joined Walnut and entered the realm of venture investing. Along the way she took seven years off to be a full-time mother. She has now reinvented herself as a mathy marketing consultant.

  • Sal describes his role in raising the first money for startup rocket ship SQZ Biotech.

  • Lucinda’s undergrad summer internships helped eliminate doing research as a career.

  • Experience running Lecture Series Committee gave her an early taste of running a business.

  • Got into HBS with admissions deferred for two years; did two internships in those two years. 

  • Project management and operations in two successful tech companies. Ceramics Process Systems co-founded by Clayton Christiansen & Molten Metal Technologies.

  • Consulting on best practices for business innovation and angel investing.

  • Left consulting when her first baby came along due to travel schedule.

  • Venture investing seemed a better life style fit with parenting.

  • Drawn to Walnut because she wanted to get into software investing.

  • Jean Tempel, also of Walnut Ventures, brought Lucinda into the VC fund she was raising.

  • Jean was a fantastic mentor to Lucinda.

  • Ken Morse and Howard Stevenson hired Lucinda to write a study on the best practices in angel investing. Study was used to teach about angel investing at MIT Sloan for a decade.

  • Angel groups were just starting then. Band of Angels.

  • The VC fund was fully invested so Lucinda saw this as a natural moment to take time out from her career to focus on her children.

  • Fired by 11-year-old son as robotics coach. Wake up call to go back to her career!

  • Parents have to be the voice that teenagers hear as an alternative to mass media and their peers. 

  • Connected with Ric Calvillo, founder of Nanigans, at Walnut Venture Dinner. In 2011 Nanigans was one of the companies Facebook was trying out as it got into advertising. Lucinda’s jaw dropped to hear they were already at cash flow break even. Helped with raising money and recruiting. 

  • Sal reads a splendid review from listener & angel investor Erik Bullen.

  • Nanigans’ pivots. Started out managing campaigns for clients but gradually migrated to SaaS model where their platform enabled customer to run their own campaigns. 

  • Next step was to provide transparency to customers. Focus is “incrementality” rather than attribution, figuring out where spending money actually causes customers to do incremental purchases. Attribution models had failed to make the distinction.

  • Squadle, restaurant automation startup automating. Saves time and increases reliability of data. IoT comes to the back of the restaurant house.

  • At Squadle, Lucinda learned the importance of speaking in the language of the customer; using abstract terms like accountability and IoT got no response from restaurant operators. When she showed an image of a log book the response hit an artery of concern.

  • Lucinda started angel investing because of father in law who is a successful repeat founder.

  • What Lucinda looks for in startups:

    • Are you solving a top priority of your customers?

    • Is this a green field? Nanigans. Wayfair.

    • Critical skills.

    • Traction & agility. How close to product/market fit.

    • Room enough to pivot.

    • Timing. Easy to invest too early.

  • Lucinda wonders if there is some application of distributed ledger technology whose time has come.

  • Marketing advice for startups. Trial and error applied wisely is the best tool. Exposure to the customer is essential.

  • Advice to startups: hire marketing people according to how developed your marketing program is.

  • In marketing, there is no playbook.