After five and a half years at Crosslink, Joe Guzel is launching his own venture fund Haven Ventures, a new fintech fund focused on seed and pre-seed startups, cutting checks of up to $1 million.
On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Guzel talks about his journey into the venture world and becoming a leading investor in fintech.
Guzel got his start at Intuit in San Francisco, where he fell in love with the city’s culture – and adopted the city’s feeling that “there isn’t that much going on from a tech perspective” in L.A. But shortly after moving to Santa Monica to join the L.A. firm Crosscut Ventures, Guzel caught “the L.A. bug.”
“After literally day one, cruising down the ocean to Crosscut’s office in Venice Beach, I was like, ‘Oh, this is really, really nice. Like, ‘what the hell are all these people up north talking about that L.A. sucks’?,'” he said.
Guzel moved back to the Bay to work for Crosslink Ventures, where he focused on the firm’s fintech investments, including startups such as Chime, Personal Capital and Step.
There, Guzel saw the landscape in financial technology radically shifting, both in terms of the technology and consumer interest.
“There has never been a better time to get into fintech,” he said. “And that’s because you have this $15 trillion industry that has taken decades and decades to get to the point where both tech infrastructure on the B2B side is ready for an upgrade.”
He saw a chance to start his own venture firm focused on financial technology and the transformation that is happening with decentralized finance and web3. With his partner McLain Southworth, he built Haven.
In the rest of the episode, Guzel talks about his family’s journey from the Middle East to the U.S. and what it was like growing up in an immigrant family in the Central Valley.
“We went from kind-of having it all in Kuwait, to having nothing,” he said. “There were eight of us living in a four-bedroom house that we still own in Bakersfield. I was sleeping on a bunk bed with my mom till I was 12.”
dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
Hear the full episode by clicking on the playhead above, and listen to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.