Magdalena “Mags” Kala, a self-described “degen of his life,” is no stranger to beating the odds. Before she became an investor, she co-founded an all-female blackjack team that sought to exploit gender bias to profit from the game, she told TechCrunch in an interview.
It is fitting, then, that Kala was able to raise its first funding as a solo GP focused on an early-stage consumer startup in the web3 space in just four months despite the larger downturn in the crypto market.
The company is in Miami, Florida, Double Down, blew past its initial fundraising target of $20 million in a month and closed its first fund with a total of ~$30 million this week, according to Kala. The fund has made nine investments in web3 consumer startups, including Miami-based OnChain Studios, which makes Cryptoys, and Tally Labs, the company behind the Jenkins the Valet & Azurbala franchise.
Kala’s fundraising is no small feat, especially given that women are underrepresented in venture capital, not to mention the added challenge of raising capital as a first-time fund manager in today’s depressed venture market. Women include less than 15% of decision-makers in VC firms – a number that is almost certainly smaller in the crypto space, where less than 5% the entrepreneur is a woman.
His success in putting these funds together is also, in part, a result of his deep background in the consumer space. He has invested in consumer-facing companies for a decade on behalf of Bain Capital and the Steve Pagliuca family office. Kala said he decided to raise this fund as a “reluctant entrepreneur” after talking to investors and founders at web3 who encouraged him to leverage the relative intersection of his interests in consumer and crypto.
“I believe that the future of web3 is in the consumer, and I recognize that one of the things that I think is limiting is the actual lack of good storytelling and go-to-market strategies around it, and communicating value to people who are out there crypto og, crypto-indigenous customer segment,” said Kala. “To me, it feels very appropriate for the investor-market, if you want to … think, no one else in crypto is doing it, so I decided to launch a fund.”
Backers of Double Down include crypto and venture heavyweights such as Chris Dixon and Marc Andreessen of a16z, Paradigm co-founders Matt Huang and Fred Ehrsam, Alexis Ohanian’s VC firm Seven Seven Six and consumer-focused LPs such as Paris Hilton and Sara Blakely. Kala says that the LP base consists of ~ 30% female LP and ~ 30% BIPOC LP.
As a nod to web3 culture, Kala said he has released the full deck he used to raise this fund as a series of NFTs on OpenSea. He plans to AirDrop the pages to his LP in the order they commit to funding, starting with Pagliuca, Dixon and Ohanian, he added. Double Down is also launching a newsletter that will provide advice on marketing and branding for web3 startups, Kala added.
“Consumer culture is critical to driving mainstream adoption of web3, and Mags brings a unique perspective as an experienced consumer investor, strategist, and marketer to invest in and support the next generation of top web3 startups on their journey to mass impact and scale,” Ohanian told TechCrunch in an email.
Kala says he plans to collaborate with some crypto-focused investors who LPs his funds in individual deals. The small size of his fund, he explained, will allow him to focus on the specific strengths he brings to the table rather than competing with larger firms.
For its investors, Kala’s private equity experience is one of its advantages, especially in today’s market.
“I’m used to working really hard and being disciplined, and I think with many LPs that have resonated,” Kala said. “I’m not going to fly by the seat of my pants, especially given the state of the market.”