In this post, Christina Russ interviews Vesey Ventures’ founding team, Lindsay Fitzgerald, Dana Eli-Lorch and Julia Huang. We explore how they combine their deep domain expertise in traditional financial services with a unique understanding of the fintech startup ecosystem to identify, fund and scale the next generation of great fintech companies.
Since 2020, Truist Ventures has been investing in funds and companies that bring outside innovations to clients and teammates, learn about new and emerging technologies, and build better lives and communities.
As part of our commitment to commercializing, learning, and driving social change through investment, we’re excited to highlight Vesey Ventures’ founding team and announce our first investment in their firm as an anchor LP.
The Vesey team is using a unique “First Business Development Team” approach to partnering with founders. Alongside every term sheet, Vesey Ventures issues a ‘Strategy Sheet’ outlining how the firm will leverage its extensive network of strategic investors and advisors as a company’s first business development team.
Truist Ventures caught up with Vesey’s founding partners to discuss their careers and how their differentiated approach to supporting founders builds early lines of communications with potential customers and acquirers.
Christina: What inspired you to start your own venture capital firm?
Vesey Team: We all met on Vesey Street about 10 years ago at Amex Ventures. During our time there, we made over 50 fintech investments, including category-defining companies like Stripe, Plaid, Trulio and Melio. We also launched more than 100 corporate partnerships on behalf of our portfolio companies. We had an incredible run, but toward the end of our tenure, we looked around the table and realized we had something unique that would create more value as an independent firm. Having worked together for so long, we had each developed complementary sub-specialties in fintech – across B2B, consumer and infrastructure – as well as complementary networks across the financial services industry and fintech ecosystem. We were a trusted partnership by founders, with a deep history of investing together, and a shared enthusiasm for making financial services better. It was time to build Vesey.
Christina: We were intrigued by your "First Business Development Team" approach to partnering with founders. Could you elaborate more on this strategy, and how it influences your investment decisions?
Vesey Team: We founded Vesey on the thesis that better business development drives better outcomes in fintech. Financial incumbents still own the crucial elements fintechs need to scale - infrastructure, capital, licenses, and customers. We saw an opportunity to combine our domain expertise in traditional financial services and our unique understanding of the fintech startup ecosystem to build a venture firm that bridges the gap between the companies in need of new technologies and those building them. We only invest in companies that we think we can support through our network. We also lean on our network to support our diligence. When we make an investment, it’s because we have a strong enough signal from our network that the product is best-in-class and has potential to scale efficiently through targeted business development.
Christina: Could you share a success story where this approach has significantly benefited a portfolio company?
Vesey Team: A great example of how our model works is our recent investment in Grain. Grain is an Israeli startup delivering embedded currency hedging for SMBs, an incredibly compelling and first-of-its-kind value prop for platforms where international transactions take place. The hard part of an “embedded” go-to-market strategy, of course, is that you are dependent on partnership to drive your first dollar of revenue. We’ve been hard at work filling the top of Grain’s funnel and expect to be able to announce some exciting first partners soon. For Israeli founders (which will ultimately represent about a third of our fund, since one of our GPs is in Tel Aviv), that ability to bridge their talent and technology to the U.S. market is particularly compelling.
Christina: Vesey Ventures leverages its network of strategic investors and advisors to support portfolio companies. How do you ensure that these connections translate into tangible value for these startups?
Vesey Team: We spend a lot of time investing in our trusted relationships with financial services executives and listening to their priorities. Our introductions are always grounded in serving real business goals. But the truth is, not every introduction works out – that’s why we built Vesey as a network. Our LPs are from different parts of the financial services industry, which creates different use cases and more optionality for our startups.
Christina: In bridging the gap between fintech startups and financial incumbents, what are the challenges you most frequently encounter and how do you help address them?
Vesey Team: The most frequent challenge we deal with is crossing the chasm between “great meeting” and commercial agreement. There’s a lot of inertia in the middle. We advise our startups on strategies to build relationships and create momentum. We’re big fans of the crawl-walk-run approach.
Christina: Truist Ventures is thrilled to be an anchor LP in your firm. What made Truist Ventures the right partner for Vesey Ventures in this journey?
Vesey Team: We’re equally thrilled! In our experience, financial services innovation is driven by people, full stop. Any deal you’ve seen announced can usually be traced back to one or two champions who drove it through layers of no’s. Immediately upon meeting you, Nick, Jakub, Joshua and the rest of the team we recognized a kindred spirit! Our partners at Truist have been outstanding – innovative thinkers, willing to explore new technologies, but grounded in the reality of what moves the needle. The fact that Truist has awesome scale and scope of products was just icing on the cake. We continue to be impressed by the innovative spirit, collaborative approach, and subject matter expertise Truist brings to the startup ecosystem.
Christina: How do you envision the evolution of the fintech landscape, and what role do you see Vesey Ventures playing in it?
Vesey Team: We think the days of raising a billion dollars to “disrupt” financial services are done. The future of financial services will be built by startups and incumbents working in tandem. We expect more partnerships and more acquisitions. We’re heads down finding the most promising emerging technologies and getting them in front of institutions. We’re ultimately hoping our role is helping to get the best innovation in users’ hands faster.
Christina: On a personal note, when not immersed in the world of fintech and venture capital, how do each of you prefer to spend your time?
We have eight children between the three of us… outside of work, it’s mom time!