What was one of your most significant investments of the year and why?

We don’t usually lead funding rounds, but because we were pretty impressed with 17Hats’ rapid growth, we decided to do most of their $1.25 million seed round in January 2015. Since then, we’ve also led their subsequent round, funding their entire $4 million Series A round in September.

Eric Manlunas, 47

Title: Managing Partner

Firm: Wavemaker Partners

Rank: Venture capital, No. 15

Years at firm: 13

Residence: Encino Hills

What was one of your most unusual investments of the year and why?

The most unusual was agriculture tech company MycoTechnology. They have a proprietary IP made from mushrooms that can eliminate the bitterness in any food substance such as coffee, chocolates, and stevia. We haven’t done AgTech in the past, but we were pretty impressed with their IP and believed that the team can execute on this huge opportunity.

What trends are you seeing in the sectors in which you specialize?

Businesses big and small are automating every facet of their business functions at a very fast clip, which bodes well for enterprise software platforms. We believe this trend will continue to accelerate.

Is the work always about getting the largest return possible or are other factors just as important?

While financial returns are critical to the success of any venture capitalist, it’s important to be cognizant of venture capital’s intangibles. Early stage venture capital in particular has an important social-utility function, catalyzing positive change. That leads to business formation, which leads to high-value job creation, and, ultimately, better standards of living.

How have declining valuations impacted your existing portfolio companies and the way you’re looking at potential investments?

Fortunately, we haven’t seen that contraction in our portfolio just yet. That said, funding markets have tightened up considerably and only businesses showing meaningful metrics are getting investor attention.

What was your personal highlight over the past year?

We crossed over $100 million in assets under management, and we’re currently at $118 million in assets across multiple funds.

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