Featured Investors
February 1, 2023

Featured Investors | February 2023 - Ronnie Martinez of CEAS Investors and Brent Murri of M13

Isaac Snitkoff
EVCA Fellow

Ronnie Martinez, Associate at CEAS Investors

Ronnie Martinez is an associate at CEAS Investments where she invests in early stage technology companies with a focus on B2B software. She has been on the CEAS team for 4.5 years, has invested in 16 companies and is a board observer for Marqii, Shabodi and Live Furnish. Prior to joining CEAS, she earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami (International Finance & Marketing and Entrepreneurship) where she captained the women’s soccer team her senior year and was named to the All-ACC Academic team twice. She was also previously a semi-pro player for the Toronto Lynx soccer team in the former USL W-league. Ronnie is a proud Canadian who was raised in Ottawa and Toronto.

EVCA: What is your favorite thing about working in venture capital and why? How about your least favorite thing and why?

Ronnie: Working in venture is a privilege. I’m rarely the smartest person in any room and as a result am in a constant state of learning. Working on a variety of things all the time is so interesting – I‘ll go from a call with one of our portfolio founders working on rapid 3D prototype design, to a pitch from a company creating digital twins for network planning, to a board meeting and have to be up to speed and context switch between all of it. Learning from a variety of top minds, all working to solve different, important problems is definitely the biggest highlight for me.

My least favorite thing is the incredibly long feedback loop. I find that working at the earliest stages is the most fun and rewarding but it can take 7, 10, 12 or more years to return capital and prove that you’ve made great investment decisions.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Ronnie: There is a lot of hype right now about new advances in artificial intelligence. I have and will continue to invest in companies utilizing AI to create revolutionary products, but try to be realistic about how long it will take to truly disrupt and effect the day to day work of people in different industries. I think it’ll take a lot longer than what is being perpetuated online. We’ve seen this play out with the AR/VR funding boom and excitement and how long it’s taken crypto to become mainstream and accepted. People are skeptical of AI and will continue to be as long as it is seen as a potential threat or replacement for their jobs. The changes that are coming are inevitable but I think adoption isn’t as close as it seems reading tech twitter right now.

Brent Murri, Principal at M13

Brent Murri is a Principal at M13 where he leads early-stage investments in consumer technology companies. He focuses on the firm’s commerce thesis area. Brent joined M13 from Battery Ventures, where he evaluated early and late stage software investments and executed growth strategies for Battery’s portfolio companies. Before Battery, Brent worked in strategy & business development for Samsung NEXT, where he worked with the mobile business unit on Samsung’s consumer software and services initiatives. Brent began his career as an investment-banking analyst with Lazard Freres & Co., working on M&A transactions in the firm’s Technology group. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a BS in Business Strategy. Brent’s M13 investments include: Passport, Doorvest, Interviewing.io, Umamicart, Bounty, Capsule, Podz, Anycart, and Clash.

EVCA: What is your favorite thing about working in venture capital and why? How about your least favorite thing and why?

Brent: By far my favorite part is meeting with founders and entrepreneurs. These are folks who have a lot more guts than I do to oftentimes leave something predictable to venture out and start something from scratch. Being able to talk to them, learn from them and sometimes challenge them about their business is an incredible opportunity that we get to call a ‘job’. 

My least favorite part is time management. There are an endless number of companies that I could talk to or meet with. I wish I could spend enough time with everyone, but that’s impossible. Saying no in order to manage my time is not something I enjoy.

EVCA: What is your most contrarian view on an existing or emerging technology trend?

Brent: I’m more bearish on hybrid work than most. While the future of work will (for most of us) never be mandatory all five days a week in an office, I think it ends up being far more IRL than hybrid. I’ve seen the power of productivity and engagement when team members are physically together, and when this period of “return to normal” following Covid shakes out, my take is more leaders will choose the in-person structure. This is already beginning to happen with Apple, Tesla, Amazon, and more choosing mandatory in-office policies. 

Hybrid work environments can be particularly hard for young professionals, those starting their first jobs out of undergrad. There is an underrated social aspect to working IRL, and often your coworkers make up a large part of your social life in your first job, which is hard to replicate in a hybrid model. Training new employees is also much harder to do in a virtual setting, you miss the hands-on approach and ability to comfortably ask questions to your peers and manager without bombarding them with Slacks. It’s much harder to know “how you’re doing” in a hybrid model.