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Getting to know the Folklore team - Meet Dan

Meet Dan Fleming, Investment Manager

By

Folklore Ventures

June 24, 2021

As an investor with Folklore, Dan is insatiably curious about what makes people tick and the tech trends shaping the future industries of tomorrow. Combined with his background as a startup operator, Dan has unique perceptive insight that enables us to find and invest in visionary founders building the great business success stories of our time. 

I’m a closet gamer

If I could, I’d spend most of my free time on my PS4 stuck in Verdansk (the fictional world of Call of Duty: Warzone) battling away as @avgseaeagle or building franchises in any of the EA Sports' games. Watching the explosion of Twitch really opened my eyes to the power of the creator economy and the platforms and audiences that fuel it. Both the gamer and the investor inside me are intrigued to see where these platforms, their content creators and fans can take this model over the next few years. 

It’s one of the things I love most about being a VC, especially in a market like Australia where the industry is still in its first quarter. This allows me to be a true generalist and explore startups or thematics in diverse industries, from the creator economy to healthcare. It’s rewarding to watch founders pursue their passions, find their niches and support them to build and succeed.

My path to venture capital started off with a very different kind of pitch

My path to Folklore has been a non-linear journey. After studying Economics at UNSW, I started my career as a consultant at PwC. Although this was a great place to sharpen my analytical skills, my dream was not consulting, but to play rugby for the Wallabies. So that dream obviously didn’t work out but I was offered the opportunity to play rugby overseas! I moved stateside to Denver, Colorado to join the Glendale Raptors for a year before signing a contract to join the Kowloon Rugby Club in Hong Kong.

In many ways, my time on the rugby pitch was a catalyst for my decision to work in startups and later Folklore. As an emerging sport in the US my time over there allowed me to be part of and help shape a growing community. I didn’t know my journey would take me to startups, but I did know that I craved a strong sense of community and a chance to shape a product, a company or even an ecosystem. 

After returning to Australia, I took my first step in working with startups as a founding team member at RagTagd, which helps parents find their childrens’ lost property at school through RFID tags and sensor-equipped racks. I joined at its pre-seed stage, which gave me exposure to the bare-knuckled grit it takes to build something from the ground up. From there, I went on to join the Growth Operations team at LegalVision, a technology-driven legal services company, to run operational projects across the business. From initiating customer service programs to fuel retention and repeat purchasing, to introducing subscription services and product bundling, and scaling sales operations, every experiment was focused on customer and unit economics.

One of the most important lessons I learnt while working in startups is the value of listening to your customers

Working at an early stage startup gives you a unique vantage point where you can directly engage with and listen to customers; it’s truly one of the most fascinating parts of the experience. 

If I could choose one person to have dinner with, it would be Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s journey to becoming one of the most valuable companies in the world is fascinating. A history of customer obsession and delivering on customer expectations enabled them to execute a complex and evolving business model, amass phenomenal market share and attract world-class talent. They wrote the book for customer experience and have an unparalleled track record of delivering new products and programs that compound customer value – like Prime, Kindle, Alexa and most extraordinarily, AWS. 

While venture investment is a whole other ball game in terms of feedback cycles (it can be years before you see whether you made the right investment decision), the team at Folklore has its ear to the ground. We know founders’ journeys because we’ve walked in their shoes, and we look to them to hear what guidance or support they need beyond just cutting them a cheque. I am grateful to be part of a team this passionate and committed to founders and teams that are creating visionary companies.

My grounding place

I grew up in Coogee as the youngest of four kids in a tight knit family. Having always lived close to the coast, I love being in the ocean and you can find me swimming or surfing all year round (maybe not all year round). I spend a lot of time plotting trips down the coast and look forward to the day when I can return to international surfing spots like Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Of course, throw in a little gaming to the mix and we’re now living the dream! 

What the rest of the team think of Dan!

Hannah - "Dan is one of the most easy-going, warm and approachable individuals I know. His authenticity shines through his ability to immediately build rapport with founders and his always thoughtful and discerning questions is a testament to his commitment to understanding founder vision. I feel lucky to be working with Dan - not only for his investment brain but for the plenty of banter he doles out (often to me!!)."

Toby - "Dan is the guy you want your daughter to meet! He’s warm, authentic, polite, considerate, reliable and totally grounded (despite being a serial overachiever). Perhaps on account of his sporting background, he personifies teamwork and is always willing to roll up his sleeves & help out. Just don’t ask him to bake you a sourdough loaf…"

Tort - "Dan is the reliable constant at Folklore; a one stop shop for ANSWERS. He is always calm, insightful and willing to help; a genuine "culture carrier". A ray of light in the office, there's never a dull moment with Dan."

Jess - "Dan is one of the smartest yet kindest people I’ve ever met. He’s genuinely curious about founders and business models, and also has this weird combination of being super analytical, yet creative. His only downside is that he tries very hard at many things recreationally, but is only average to slightly above average at all of them (e.g. golf, tennis, Call of Duty...)"

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