Eric Reiner is the founder and managing partner of Vine Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm that focuses on funding Israeli, US and Latin American business ventures. Before founding Vine, Reiner worked at a host of venture capital firms such as Pitango, Insight and Sinai Ventures. Vine Ventures currently has $200 million in assets under management.
Your fund specifically targets Israeli founders. Was that a part of your initial design philosophy when you started Vine? How did you get involved in the VC world?
“I started my career at InSite. I was always calling Israeli companies and trying to network there, and fell in love with the idea of supporting the Israeli economy, doing so in a way that helps to drive the nation toward economic security and independence.
“The premise of Vine and our value to companies is that we’re one of the largest seed funds in New York City – really the only Seed Fund in New York City that very specifically focuses on Israeli companies – and more and more Israeli founders are interested in coming to New York versus San Francisco. We are the ultimate stepping stone to very young pre-product, pre-launch, even sometimes pre-idea founders in Israel, and we provide them with the resources that they need to grow in the US and Europe and their target market.”
You’re a relatively young guy to be running a venture capital firm. Does your age impact the way that Vine runs its operations?
“I’m 30 years old. As you know, most Israeli founders start their companies when they’re young, so having that kind of friendly, peer-to-peer relationship is super important. Partners at most [VC] firms are 40, 50, 60 years old. Not to be an ageist in any way, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just a different kind of relationship when it’s someone who’s more of a peer.
“I’m either younger or the same age as a lot of the founders that we speak to, and so what that creates is a dynamic of real trust. It’s not like you’re going to go ask your parents or your boss for help. You’re talking to someone who you can consider to be a friend, and I think founders really enjoy that.”
An aspect that I don’t hear many VCs discuss is the emotion, or the feeling, behind the work. I’d imagine that being in a position that allows you to radically impact founders’ lives probably has its perks. Can you speak to that aspect of your job?
“I think one of the most beautiful aspects of the world, frankly, [is that] they’re creating something from nothing; having children, building a marriage or a partnership, starting a nonprofit, or making an investment in this case. To assist a founder and founding team in building something from nothing, it’s just beautiful. It feels like magic, and that is the essence of what makes life so beautiful.”