A New York VC Spotlight: John Frankel



John Frankel is a founder and partner at ff Venture Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in seed-stage companies based in New York. While working with ff Venture Capital, he has worked closely with entrepreneurs in a variety of fields, developing keen insights in advising startups.

Frankel, who was born in London, has been an early-stage venture investor since 1999, starting his career with Arthur Andersen & Co. in the audit and insolvency divisions. He worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. for 21 years in a variety of different roles, including technology development, reengineering and capital markets. In particular, he established Goldman’s Cayman offshore administration business, its London global custody business and reengineered its global prime brokerage business.  In capital markets, he worked closely with some of the world’s leading hedge funds, which gave him insight to portfolio risk/return management.

Frankel was one of the earliest investors in Cornerstone OnDemand and Quigo Technologies, which was purchased by AOL in 2007.

He earned a Master of Arts degree from New College in Oxford, where he studied mathematics, philosophy and. He is also a fellow chartered accountant of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

VC firms:

Founder and partner at ff Venture Capital (1999)

Expertise areas:

Hedge funds, portfolio risk/return management, audits, technology development, reengineering, capital markets


Cornerstone OnDemand

Former investments:

Quigo Technologies (purchased by AOL in December 2007)


Apparel Media Group (former member)
Appy Couple
Distil Networks

Blogs, websites and Twitter:

ff Venture Capital Blog

Memorable Quotes:

On computing headsets and wristwatches: “The thing that will make us comfortable with wearables will be the accuracy of the information they provide. Letting Siri be not completely accurate is annoying, since wearables are ever-present, that information needs to be 100 percent correct.”

On opportunities with new brainwave-reading headsets: “Maybe we can quantify our mediation. Or maybe someone will develop a program that tells someone they’re falling asleep at the wheel. I don’t know what people will come up with, and that intrigues me a lot.”

On companies looking to solve major issues: “These are the kinds of innovations that foster further innovation. I wonder how many people from other countries we’ve brought over here, educated and then sent away.”

On working at Goldman Sachs for 21 years: “Twenty-one years at GS is a long time, and I was getting to be the oldest person on a trading floor that has a median age 15 to 20 years younger than I was then. I also felt that I could make a bigger contribution by spending 100 percent of my time on venture capital than on helping Goldman’s bottom line. Not just to my personal bottom line, but also by focusing on helping startups become established.”

Advice for new businesses: “Team up with great cofounders. Find a space that’s not only growing, but can be massive over the next 4 to 10 years. Expect to work harder than you ever have in your life and then go for it. Talk to every industry expert and advisor that will give you the time of day. There will be 100 reasons to not go ahead, but then ignore the naysayers and go for your dream.”

On what inspires him: “Working with great entrepreneurs and helping them think through their early growth issues.”

On why he chose his profession: “I love working as a venture capitalist in the angel space. It is so much more fun than later stage investing, and you get to meet amazing people. We are building a great team and a differentiated firm, with plans on being around for quite some time.”

For more information on startup funding and investments, visit our funding section.

About the author: Kristen Mott

Kristen Mott is a senior at Cleveland State University studying Journalism and Promotional Communication and current editor-in-chief of The Cauldron, the student-run alternative newspaper on campus.

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