Ariana Tucker likes to say that science was her first love and startups her second. Now she can combine them into a dissertation for her new venture firm. Conscience VK.
Tucker’s passion for science began in high school when she took college chemistry courses. Her interest in startups came years later when she joined the founding team of startup Mirus Energy along with her former UCLA professor after feeling “locked in a box” while working for a major energy company.
She quickly discovered that smaller businesses were more innovative and likely to move forward, and immersed herself in them. “I realized that I love venture capital, I love founders, and I want to do this all the time, all the time,” Tucker told TechCrunch. “I saw this as the most effective way to make an impact and went to work in a venture capital company.”
She then took a job at deep tech-focused Rhapsody Venture Partners and learned the trade, but soon felt she had developed a dissertation worthy of independent study. In 2020, she launched Conscience to invest in companies that are at the intersection of consumer and deep technologies. The firm announces the closing of its $10 million debut fund after an oversubscribed fundraiser that doubled the firm’s original goal. The firm will cut checks to $250,000 and will mostly work pre-stage but will do everything pre-Series A, Tucker said.
Tucker has received support from LPs including Screendoor Partners, Foundation Capital and Carta, among other organizations, as well as from the unicorn founders. Despite exceeding the subscription limit, the fundraising for the first solo GP did not go according to plan.
“I liquidated my pension fund, moved into my parents’ two-room apartment, and for about a year and a half just built and promoted the LP network from scratch,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, but very risky. It just took a lot longer than I thought. He offered hundreds of records just for a bunch of rejections and long hours.”
Now with capital in the bank, Conscience is looking for companies that deliver value to consumers but are technically protected. This thesis covers a wide range of industries, ranging from digital healthcare and medical treatment to physical products in sectors such as gaming. The firm has invested in 17 companies so far.
One of them is Last Gameboard, a Denver, Colorado-based startup that is building an electronic board game that can simulate a variety of games and can be played with any chips. For co-founder and CEO Shail Mehta, who launched the company because of her love of board games rather than her technical expertise, Tucker couldn’t be more helpful.
“It looks like a goldmine,” Mehta said. “When I met her, I had an investor in equipment and [game developer] Riot games. Then I had Ariana who was in deep tech and the consumer side. [of investing]. I’ve never had that point of view before.”
Tucker rolls out his debut fund at a volatile time for the venture capital market. To help her growing portfolio, she created a fundraising app that includes 1,000 other potential investors from her network, organized by sector and stage so that founders can act quickly, which is very important to Tucker. “We are obsessed with high ROI over time,” she added.
Credit: techcrunch.com /