Jim has achieved 4 ‘unicorn’-level successes over the past 20 years as a founder, executive, and investor. His top performers include Cruise ($1B sale to GM), Bebo ($850M sale to AOL), Tango ($1B+ valuation), and NBCi ($6B IPO), plus several other exits including the recent acquisition of Check by Intuit for $360M. Jim is one of the leading growth experts in Silicon Valley, a TED speaker, and a frequent presenter and judge at many startup conferences and events. Jim has a BS in Neuropsychology from Duke University and earned a JD at the University of California Davis School of Law. Jim has startup in his blood. He’s been a serial entrepreneur dating back to his high school and college days.
Immediately prior to founding Maven Ventures, Jim was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Charles River Ventures (CRV), a leading venture firm where he helped source, vet, and advise their consumer portfolio companies. Jim is one of the early pioneers of the social networking phenomenon as one of the first employees and the former head of business development and sales at the first social networking site, Friendster. In 2005, Jim left Friendster to join co-founders Michael and Xochi Birch to launch Bebo as the first employee and Board member. Prior to his internet career, Jim practiced corporate and intellectual property law at a leading Silicon Valley law firm for 3 years.
Sara Deshpande is a Partner at Maven Ventures where she makes investments in seed-stage consumer software companies and is an active advisor to the companies in the Maven portfolio. She has been working with startup founders around the globe for nearly a decade to help launch and scale their businesses and shares some of her experiences in her TEDx talk. At Maven, Sara has worked on investments in Chariot (acquired by Ford), Eden, Homemade, Neighborly, Sunshine, Gametime, Varden Labs, and more.
Prior to joining the Maven team in 2014, Sara worked at The Idea Village, an entrepreneurship engine in New Orleans, where she ran the startup portfolio and programming. Additionally, she founded and ran her own business serving clients around the country and was previously a management consultant in the Strategy and Operations practice at Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco. She holds a BS in Finance from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Robert manages Maven’s marketing and operations, including planning product, growth, and mentor events for the Maven portfolio. Before joining Maven, Robert graduated from Duke University, where he earned a BS in Economics with a focus on Finance and Management. While at Duke, he worked in credit trading at BNP Paribas in New York City and was a finalist in the Duke Startup Challenge with his company Alma Matters, a crowdfunding platform for university students’ research and projects.
The Maven team expands periodically to include experienced growth marketers and entrepreneurs with unique expertise in consumer startups. The growth hacker-in-residence role, similar to the EIR role common at other venture firms, works closely in advising our portfolio companies and helping evaluate new opportunities. This is a transitional role; most will start their own companies or join a portfolio team. Our most recent team member in this capacity was Ben Hoffman, now a Growth Engineer at Segment.
- Collaborative: We are not political. We are willing to share praise, and be honest and transparent with each other.
- No jerks: We are happy, positive, and fun to work with.
- Accountable: We are high-performing, get stuff done, and value attention to detail.
- Curious: We are always willing to learn. We are knowledgeable and strive to be experts in our field.
- Self-starters: We take initiative, work autonomously, and are resourceful.
“Everything changed after we met Jim and Maven came on board. Jim helped us focus on our core strategy and articulate our unique vision — a fun, positive place to share your real self — and implement hyper-growth strategies. Since then, our growth has been explosive, reaching over 5M users in a year. Maven also went above and beyond to make critical intros to our most strategic investors in our $8.5M Series A round.”
Co-Founder and CEO, Shots
“We worked closely with the Maven Ventures team in their incubator from the initial idea and vision for Epic! through our Series A. Not only were they incredibly helpful in the early days as we launched the company, but their introductions to Series A investors and guidance through that process was invaluable in raising a successful round.”
Founder and CEO, Epic!
“Maven Ventures has been an exceedingly-helpful investor. Their background in consumer startups gives them great insight into our business, and their introductions have been spot on.”
CEO and Co-Founder, AltspaceVR
“Jim Scheinman at Maven has been one of our strongest supporters and most trusted and helpful advisors. He has been a great sounding board on strategy, product vision, and fundraising.”
Founder and CEO, Cruise
“Jim and the Maven team are true partners and go the extra mile to support Pley. Jim’s insight on the product was instrumental for our growth, we met some of our most valuable advisors through the Maven ecosystem and the Maven team has played an important role with investor introductions through our fundraising efforts.”
CEO and Co-Founder, Pley
“Maven was our first investor and has provided essential support and advice along the way. The Maven team transformed our initial pitch with feedback and training, and we ultimately raised an oversubscribed Seed round from world-class investors.”
Joe Du Bey
Co-Founder and CEO, Eden
“Probably the best decision we made in 2008 was bringing Jim on board. He mentored us through the fundraising process and has always been an invaluable, highly dependable resource for us to build our company. Jim has reached out to his network and helped us with a jump start that as a young startup we could have only dreamed team.”
Co-founder and CEO, SocialGold. Founder and CEO, Wonder Workshop.
“From the start, Jim was instrumental in helping us focus our strategy on becoming the leading mobile video call platform. His insights and expertise in consumer UI, viral marketing, & the smartphone market are invaluable, as are his incredible senior level contacts in both the industry and the venture capital community. He’s also great to work with.”
CEO and Co-Founder, Tango
“Jim played an integral part in shaping Check and helping us grow into the mobile personal finance leader we are today. Jim brought consumer experience and helped us successfully raise financing at a high valuation. He has also done a terrific job of recruiting and hiring top talent to the team, including our new COO, the former GM of Yahoo Finance!”
CEO and Founder, Check