The man with the Midas touch

  (photo credit: Mark Hager via Regah Ventures)
(photo credit: Mark Hager via Regah Ventures)

It's a paradox, but some of the world's most innovative and successful companies have been born out of economic downturns. From Airbnb to Uber, the crucible of tough times has produced some of the most disruptive and game-changing startups. With record inflation and uncertain macroeconomics, it’s the best venture capitalists who can spot the opportunities where others are stuck seeing obstacles.One of the standouts in the business is Mark Hager, founding partner at Regah Ventures, a boutique seed stage VC firm based in New York City. 

Hager’s track record in seed stage investing is impressive. Hager was one of the first to invest in Uber and Coinbase, which returned 2679x & 2120x, according to Pitchbook research. One recent investment, Nexar, was cited as a possible +$100B deep tech AI decacorn by Business Insider. Add to that another 68 investments, 19 exits, and 13 unicorns, and you start to wonder what’s his secret. 

“Besides my iPhone, I don’t have a computer,” says Hager, “and I can barely cut and paste.” Instead Hager draws his attention to study the essence of a team, the business opportunity, and the advice of a deep network of industry experts worldwide, including top research & due diligence from N27. “The due diligence from the small team at Regah Ventures was some of the best we experienced,” said CEO of Nexar. 

This sentiment is echoed across other portfolio companies:  “I was impressed by the deep, detailed and professional due diligence process,” said Yuval Porat, CEO of Kazuar, a deep tech cybersecurity company, “I’m confident that Regah Ventures will significantly contribute to our success leveraging Mark’s vast network”. Kazuar’s advisory board includes former US secretary of state and director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, who emphasizes Mark’s leadership and vision. “After meeting Mark and his colleagues, I was convinced that they are an optimal fit,” Secretary Pompeo recalls, “through a meticulous and professional process, Regah Ventures was able to identify the uniqueness and depth of KAZUAR’s technology, its valuable mission, and its tremendous business potential”. 

Part of this unique vision may be ascribed to a deep passion for traditional Jewish learning. As student of famed Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Hager learned the value of rigorous diligence and keen, discerning observation. This blend of unique analytic values has proven to apply to the startup world.

Hager's journey into venture investing began in the Dot Com boom, when he invested $100,000 in Desktop Data. “It was a big risk for me at the time,” says Hager, “but I believed.” The company ended up going public, and he made more than 100 times his investment. He sharpened the strategy in the coming years, focusing on decisive early stage co-investments alongside leading VCs, and formally established Regah Ventures as a vehicle to win bigger allocations in attractive VC-led rounds. 

“Hager was the first to believe in me,” said Gary Tan, founder of Initialized Capital, the outlier fund that returned an impressive 55X. Not a surprise, Hager was one of the first checks. 

Today, the firm looks forward to a new wave of innovation and growth brought about by changing market conditions. “These times remind me of ‘08-’10, when we made some of our best early stage investments,” says Hager, “the pressure from a downmarket squeezes out the weak startups and catalyzes innovation–and valuations haven’t been this attractive since the mid 2010’s.” 

So while some look around and see a world where everything is going wrong, Hager and other optimists in the Venture space see the glass half full: when the sky is falling, it’s that much easier to fly.

This article is written in collaboration with N27 Research