Sarah Hinkfuss

Sarah Hinkfuss works with growth-stage founders across both application software and fintech. She is particularly interested in backing founders who have personal experience in the market they are creating.

Partner
Bay Area

About Sarah

What is the first company you invested in?

Before I became an investor, I was in tech, and I invested sweat equity in my company! I started my career at Applied Predictive Technologies, an enterprise SaaS company in the predictive analytics space. I was fortunate enough to join at a moment of considerable growth for the company, and very early in my career was given tremendous responsibility to help build the company across markets and geographies. By the time we exited in 2015 (via acquisition by Mastercard), I was a Senior Vice President in Client Services helping lead business engagements and sales / BD efforts. APT truly invested in me, and created the foundation for my work on the growth team at BCV today.

 

What is actually the first company you invested in?

I started my career in growth investing at KKR, and my first investment was in a company called ForgeRock in the infra and security space. The company offers identity and access management software for companies managing all types of authentication and authorization, like consumers accessing their accounts, employees accessing their applications, and IoT devices accessing the network. ForgeRock figured out a more secure way to offer this access, and the need at the time was exploding — it was right time, right product in a big horizontal market that was expanding quickly.

The company was started as an open source project by founders from Sun Microsystems. They then converted that product to an enterprise offering that had a lot of passion built-in from the support of the developer community, so they were able to quickly demonstrate why it was such a critical part of their security posture. Identity and access management is high stakes, and they entered enterprise with an excellent product that developers already understood and trusted.

Do you have an investment ethos?

I lead the team’s efforts at the intersection of fintech and application software in the growth stage. What I love about this space is how diverse it is – apps is a global term to describe the sum of many, unique micro markets or domains. Each micro market has its own problems, own rules and systems of engagement, own sacred cows, own aspirations… so for me, the most critical question is: “Why do your customers love your product / service?”

For this reason, I love working with founders who have real experience in the market they are serving. I’ve seen that the founders who design for something they have seen themselves are typically the most successful, and have teams who are experts in their sub-domains. This matters because there is always some solution that exists today to serve the purpose that a newcomer is trying to displace — the best disruptors understand the customer so well that they can displace the incumbent. Inertia is a rule of life and the biggest challenge for any growth-stage company to overcome.

 

What is compelling about your domain?

Software and fintech are the operating system for our lives, and I love supporting founders and leaders to change the world we live in. Our lives run on technology, but it doesn’t always run well. There are so many opportunities to make life better for executives, employees and small businesses. Right now, I’m spending my time on a few themes, including the future of work, compliance and insurance management, and vertical SaaS (with embedded fintech).

What are your interests and passions outside of BCV?

I’m from Wisconsin and have a lot of Wisconsin pride. I’m a cheese aficionado, I love Wisconsin sports, and will never give up my accent.

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

It’s all about the people.

 

What is a self-care ritual you practice?

I grew up sailing and being on the water is my favorite place in the world. Sailing has taught me about life and business, too: while we can’t change the wind, we can adjust the sails (and still sail upwind!). My husband and I sail on San Francisco Bay, and are teaching our young son to sail now!

Background

4 years
6 years
2 years
1 year
3 years
2.5 years

Insights

A Conversation Between Dilly Sanborn-Marsh and Sarah Hinkfuss

Welcome Dilly Sanborn-Marsh as our first Fellow focusing on climate tech! Dilly has been working with us since September, initially to support our investing efforts in climate tech, working closely with our investing team, and now as she works on her own company at the intersection of fintech and climate tech.  We created this hybrid…

Sarah Hinkfuss 10 min read
Spotlight

COGS Isn’t a Four-Letter Word

Understanding a company’s finances has always been important to building a great, enduring business, but we’re seeing a renewed focus on cost and profitability in this market environment. In the first quarter of 2022, the public markets flipped from valuing growth at all costs to preferring profitable growth. For private, venture-backed companies (especially late stage),…

Sarah Hinkfuss 10 min read
Business Building

10 Things I Look for in a Founder

I recognize the folly in writing a post with this title. There is no one-size-fits-all with anything, especially with people. But after working and meeting with thousands of founders throughout my career and while at BCV, I hope to distill the key characteristics that I have come to gravitate around and demystify this process in…

Sarah Hinkfuss 9 min read
Business Building Apps Fintech Growth