Ben Narasin has been one of Silicon Valley’s most successful (but unheralded) seed-stage investors over the past eight years, helping to back such companies as Dropcam, Lending Club and Zenefits. Now he’s decided to move up the investment food chain a bit, joining Canvas Venture Fund as its fifth general partner.
Narasin began his business life as a 12 year-old entrepreneur in Atlanta, with a small comic book resale business. He later would found FashionMall.com, an early e-commerce business that went public in 1999. Ten years later he joined TriplePoint Capital as president of its venture capital subsidiary, effectively becoming an institutional seed-stage investor who has been involved with more than 80 startups.
“I’ve helped a lot of our portfolio companies raise Series A rounds, and have a lot of views on what makes a good partner at a venture firm,” Narasin explains. “And I have come to believe strongly that I could have done a better job than a lot of the firms that have funded my entrepreneurs, so this is my chance to do that.
Narasin has a long history with the team at Canvas (f.k.a. Morgenthaler Ventures), co-investing multiple times with general partners Rebecca Lynn and Paul Hsiao, and sharing a school bus stop with Gary Little (“we have kids who go to the same school, and have spent countless hours there talking”).
He officially joined Canvas this month, and already has signed his first term sheet. He won’t disclose the company, except to say it’s one in which he had previously invested in personally.
“We were able to get it done quickly because of my past experience, but I need to be very careful now with those sorts of companies,” Narasin says. “I don’t want to sway the vote, so I brought in another partner to look at it. My companies have to win on merit.
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