Jim has achieved 5 ‘unicorn’-level successes over the past 20 years as a founder, executive, and investor. His top performers include Cruise ($1B sale to GM), Zoom ($1B valuation), Bebo ($850M sale to AOL), Tango ($1B+ valuation), and NBCi ($6B IPO). 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 invests in seed-stage companies across consumer mobile, marketplaces, digital health, and autonomous vehicles, and is an active advisor to the companies in the Maven portfolio. At Maven since 2014, Sara has been part of six exits and over 20 investments including Chariot (acquired by Ford), Carrot, May Mobility, Embark, Hello Heart, Neighborly, Marble, Eden, Gametime, Pilotworks, and more.
Sara has worked with consumer and tech startup founders around the globe for the last decade, from helping to launch a consumer footwear brand to founding her own consulting practice serving clients around the country. Previously, she led the startup portfolio and programming for hundreds of high-growth startups at The Idea Village, an entrepreneurship engine in New Orleans, and was a consultant in the Healthcare Strategy practice at Deloitte in San Francisco. Sara holds a BS in Finance from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
As an associate at Maven Ventures, Alexa sources and conducts due diligence for investments in emerging consumer startups. She also manages Maven’s marketing and operations and supports early-stage companies in the portfolio through strategic growth initiatives.
Alexa has ten years experience as a consumer marketer, startup consultant, and angel investor. She is particularly passionate about using business and media for good, with a track record launching social-impact brands with Target, MTV, and the NBA. Alexa graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford and has her MBA from UCLA Anderson.
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 an engineer at Honor.
- 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.
“Jim has been great to work with from the launch of Zoom; he gets along with everyone and is there to help on anything we need. His contacts in the business and venture community have been invaluable. And, not only did he come up with the name Zoom (we were calling ourselves saasbee), but he also helped us create our marketing strategy and language, go to market launch and PR strategy, and has introduced us to key consultants and employees. Jim's been an integral part of our success to date that has culminated in an amazing introduction to and review of Zoom by Walt Mossberg at the WSJ. We truly couldn't have done this without Jim's help.”
Founder & CEO, Zoom
"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 Sara's support and strategic help helped us grow fast and smart, and they've continued to open doors for us ever since. We didn't expect that they would also challenge us to think about our company values and (aside from being successful) what we wanted our company to become; we're a stronger company as a result.”
CEO and Co-founder, May Mobility
"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!
"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 about."
Co-founder and CEO, SocialGold
Founder and CEO, Wonder Workshop
"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
"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
"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
"Jim and Sara were the investors we didn't know we needed. They supported us through a major pivot, helped get our A and B rounds done, and generally served as trusted advisors through the whole process as first time founders. I've really enjoyed working with them. Great perspective when you need it."
CEO and Co-Founder, Embark Trucks