#281: Charlie O'Donnell, Founder and General Partner of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Managing $30M Across Three Funds, on His Two Decades of Experience in the New York Tech Startup Scene, Deal Sourcing, Startup Ecosystems, and the Democratization of Tech


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Charlie O'Donnell is the sole Partner and Founder at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. The fund makes seed and pre-seed investments and was the first venture firm located in Brooklyn--where he was born and raised. Brooklyn Bridge invested in the first rounds of The Wing, Canary, Hungryroot, Ample Hills, Clubhouse, Imagen, and goTenna among others.

Charlie has a reputation for being early to identifying important companies. Nick Bilton identifies him as an influence on early Twitter investors in his book, Hatching Twitter. Dennis Crowley credits him as having helped kick off the first funding of Foursquare before other VCs had said yes. Working in venture capital since 2001, he apprenticed his way through the asset class with analyst roles on the original Union Square Ventures team as well as at the General Motors pension fund--a long time limited partner in many top tier funds. Charlie is one of only a dozen individuals to be named to Business Insider's 100 Most Influential People in NY Tech five or more times. He served on the founding board of the New York Tech Meetup and is one of the group's first 100 members. He was recently named to City & State Magazine’s Tech Power 50. His blog, This is Going to Be BIG!, is one of the ten most widely read VC blogs in the country and over 13,000 people read his weekly NYC tech newsletter. He has spoken at SXSW and Techcrunch Disrupt.

Some of the Topics Covered by Charlie O'Donnell in this Episode

  • How Charlie started his career at GM and what he learned there
  • How he ended up joining Union Square Ventures early on and why he decided to get into VC, particularly working in tech in New York
  • Deciding to start his own fund
  • Raising his first fund--how he failed at first and what he learned
  • Having 50 investors in his first fund
  • The challenge Charlie ran into when fundraising at first due to the nature of his network and how he overcame it
  • How raising for his second fund compared to the first experience
  • How Charlie approaches deal sourcing
  • Taking the Pre-Series A Offsite event online at the beginning of the pandemic
  • Curating and choreographing events to maximize value for the audience
  • How Charlie approaches blogging and how it plays into his role as a VC
  • Making yourself findable
  • Charlie's perspective on the future of learning and work
  • Startup ecosystems and what it takes to make one successful

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317 episodes