3 min read

500 Global Partner Clayton Bryan on Doubling Down on Founders and More

Clayton, who landed on Venture Capital Journal’s 2023 list of Rising Stars, talks about his journey and shares some advice for founders.

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Published

09.01.23

Ask a founder who has gone through our global flagship accelerator program about Clayton Bryan, and chances are they will gush about his level of devotion and empathy. I’ve seen this first-hand. From leading the accelerator and global investment team to being a trusted colleague and partner to many of our founders, he has truly shined. So we were thrilled to see his achievements earn recognition on Venture Capital Journal’s 2023 list of Rising Stars.

CT: Congratulations Clayton! Tell us a bit about your background and your path to venture capital.

CB: I’m originally from Oakland, CA and come from an entrepreneurial family.  Growing up in the Bay Area I naturally gravitated towards Silicon Valley after graduating from UC Berkeley.  I was able to experience both big tech and startup life as a young professional.  Over time I started to advise companies and fell in love with collaborating founders at the early stages.  I was able to turn that passion into a professional career initially as an operator of an accelerator program and then as an investor and now I do a bit of both.  

CT: You’ve led investments in more than 30 companies at 500 Global, including Butlr, Fintor, EcoCart and Pariti. What do they have in common?

CB: The founders all had a deep and personal understanding of the problem they were setting out to solve, strong aptitude for learning new things, and can execute at a high level. I like to say that I am here simply to support the architects of the future, these founders are all extremely driven to change their markets for the better while generating transformational value creation. 

CT: As 500 Global evolves into a multi-stage venture capital firm, what does it mean for founders?

CB: Over the years, we have done a great job of building relationships with some of the world’s most noteworthy founders at the earlier stages of their startup journey via our flagship accelerator program. Now we are able to provide further support for founders that are further along leveraging our global network and resources.  

CT: What sectors are you looking at closely in 2023?

CB:  Given the expected continued volatility within the macro markets, we’re more frequently reevaluating the attractiveness and viability of categories in 2023.  That said here are a few of the sectors that I am leaning into right now: 

  • Digital Health (E.g., Future of Healthcare, Femtech) 
  • AI (across multiple subcategories including Generative AI, Education, Healthcare, and Pharma) 
  • Sustainable Technologies (some examples include renewable energy, carbon offset, grid infrastructure improvements)
  • Commerce 
  • Gaming 
  • Fintech
  • Dev Tools 
  • Compliance Tools 

CT: What would you tell founders today who are looking to raise funding in challenging times?

CB: Fundraising timelines have expanded, and it’s very important for founders to have a comfortable runway in case what they think may be a 3 month raise evolves into a 6 month raise.  There are lots of indicators pointing towards this being a buyers market, and investors want to spend more time getting to know founders before getting to a “yes”.  In these volatile times, founders must carefully consider all of their expenses and look for ways to help sustain the business at a quicker pace.  It will be important to be able to show how your business will be able to grow even in trying times.   

A reminder to founders that our global accelerator program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Our next flagship accelerator Demo Day is on March 23rd, and we’re aiming to have it in person. Stay tuned!

 

Christine Tsai

Founding Partner and CEO

Christine Tsai co-founded 500 Global in 2010, and led the firm’s growth over the past decade from a startup accelerator to a multi-stage venture capital firm with $2.7B in assets under management, and more than 2,700 investments in 81 countries. 500 Global regularly ranks as one of the most active venture capital firms in the world, according to PitchBook, with a top number of exits. The firm’s diversified portfolio includes 49 companies valued at more than $1B, such as Talkdesk, Canva, Grab, GitLab, and Intercom. Private Equity International has named Christine one of 10 Women of Influence in venture capital. She currently serves on the venture capital committee of the Association of Asian American Investment Managers, the Global Tech VC Council of the Global Private Capital Association, and is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Christine is also an honoree of Gold House’s 2021 A100 List, recognizing the most impactful Asian and Pacific Islander leaders across business and technology, entertainment, advocacy and politics, lifestyle, and sports. Prior to founding 500 Global, she held product marketing and operating roles at Google, including monetization and developer products such as Google AdSense, Google Analytics, YouTube APIs and syndication, and Google Developer Platform Tools. Christine holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

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