Episode 5: Paul Martino, Co-founder & Managing Partner at early-stage VC firm

In this episode of Net Effects Podcast, co-hosts Les Ottolenghi and Mark Bavisotto interview Paul Martino, co-founder and managing partner of early-stage VC firm Bullpen Capital. The conversation dives into what makes a great investment opportunity as well as what makes a great startup founder. In this podcast with Paul Martino, he brings his effusive knowledge to the table with plenty of advice on starting a business, anecdotes about resilience, grit, and curiosity.

Episode highlights:

  • Broadening your personal data set with both successes and failures. Martino shares what it was like getting fired from his own startup and how it made space and energy for him to pursue his next big thing.
  • A winning strategy for entrepreneurs: Know enough to be dangerous but not enough to be jaded. “If you know the business too well you’re never going to be receptive to the fresh idea. And if you don’t know the business at all, you won’t know where to innovate.”
  • “Blue-collar founders” is Martino’s term for individuals who – regardless of background, age, or income – are oriented towards grit, are hardworking, and encompass a determined, grounded mindset.
  • “Social good doesn’t have to be the thing that motivates you, but it’s a damn good one to motivate you to move mountains.”
  • “You can talk all the platitudes you want, but you have to show up.”

To hear more advice on starting a business, investing strategy, and the some of the pivotal lessons that have shaped his staying power, listen to the full podcast episode with Paul Martino now.

About Paul Martino Bullpen Capital: Paul Martino is the Co-founder & Managing Partner at early-stage VC firm Bullpen Capital in Menlo Park, California. For the last decade, Bullpen has funded over 100 companies. Bullpen Capital invests in post-seed companies that have achieved product-market fit, but have not yet proven sufficient market scalability to raise a major VC round. Bullpen invests in companies that have an operational plan to hit big milestones within a 12-month period, working closely with companies in the portfolio to develop this early traction into large, sustainable businesses.

Seed financing is now more of a process than an event, with multiple rounds of investment layered into the early stages of startup companies. The “post-seed”​ stage is often the inflection point of value, the last lean money in before a “super-sized” A-round.  Bullpen’s strategy aims to provide leverage for founding teams, who can minimize dilution to maintain ownership and control of their companies while retaining the option of choosing either a quick acquisition or raising major growth capital to go for a big win.