LU 340: How Angel Investor Marvin Liao Helps Businesses Scale (podcast) With Marvin Liao

Marvin Liao 500 Startups

Hey everyone! Today, we are joined by Marvin Liao who is a partner at 500 Startups, a micro venture capital firm with a network of startup programs located in Silicon Valley.

Tune in to hear how Marvin worked at Yahoo and helped them scale, how his businesses stand out above their competitors plus listen in to hear him give you a list of his most successful investments to date – including being the first person to invest in ManyChat!


  • [00:41] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Leveling Up Podcast!
  • [01:19] A career overview: from Yahoo to doing angel investing and joining 500 Startups.
  • [02:09] Becoming the scaling guy and being a part of Yahoo’s exponential growth.
  • [02:42] Living through and recovering from a downturn and what it reveals about a business.
  • [04:23] The business model of 500 Startups and how they make money.
  • [05:58] The value of the funds they manage and the number of companies they’re invested in.
  • [06:39] VCs being about investing in outliers for outlier outcomes.
  • [07:02] What sets Marvin apart as an investor and why 500 Startups recruited him.
  • [08:50] Examples of scrappy yet effective tactics from a growth perspective.
  • [10:40] Being a different kind of investor and the benefit of not being an insider in Silicon Valley.
  • [11:25] A few of Marvin’s most successful investments, including Eaze, Shippo and ManyChat.
  • [12:28] Investment trends and why you should pay attention to low code and no-code tools.
  • [14:48] How Marvin gets his deals and the effort involved in filtering through the deal flow.
  • [16:07] What his typical day looks like, including a meditation and exercise routine.
  • [18:28] An estimation of what his returns of investing in over 400 companies have been.
  • [19:32] Marvin’s recommendations of the best business books.
  • [20:25] Advice for growing as an investor: gaining experience, finding mentors and reading.
  • [21:17] Developing your own thesis of the world and why reading sci-fi is helpful for a VC.
  • [23:09] Evernote: An old-school app that is still one of the best around.
  • [23:58] Why he follows Rahul Vohra from Superhuman and his side VC fund.
  • [25:09] How side hustles are on the rise and why it’s an interesting development.

Resources From The Interview:

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