From early stage syndication to mid and late-stage fund investing: Why I joined Fuel Venture Capital

Vlad Cazacu at the Fuel Venture Capital office in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

If you don’t know me, my name is Vlad Cazacu, born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, deep in Eastern Europe with an overly ambitious mindset, a loving family, and a passion for the craft of finance. I tend to live life at 2x speed, drink a lot of coffee, win at cards, and prove people that anything is possible, regardless of your background.

Since my last story after wrapping up business school at McCombs, it has been a crazy year to say the least. I saw thousands of deals, met hundreds of founders, invested in tens of companies, led the investment in 11 incredible teams, and helped other syndicators and founders get their private transactions completed via SPVs. What a journey…

The backstory

I was very lucky to meet Landon in the spring of 2021 as I was wrapping up my graduate studies in Austin and soon after, I took the leap, moved to Miami and joined him to build up Assure Syndicates. We rapidly grew to over 800 members and 80+ portfolio companies, making us one of the largest angel syndicates in the nation. To say it was difficult would be an understatement.

Together with the rest of the team, we carved out a unique space in the venture ecosystem, a truly aligned co-investor connecting individual angel investors, family offices, and VC funds with great companies from Pre-Seed to Series B, usually outside of traditionally hot markets of SF and NYC.

This allowed me to meet a throve of high net worth individuals, develop relationships with family offices and investment professionals at VC firms, understand their thesis and connect the dots between capital and vetted opportunities. Looking back, there wasn’t a better way to start my full-time career in venture than the way I did, building on the previous experiences at VU Venture Partners, and ff Venture Capital.

The breakup

Even if not all love stories come to an end, this one did. I won’t bore you with the details for many reasons, but know that the situation was out of our direct control. In life, there are things you can control, and things you can only try to influence. Based on a quarter century worth of experience it seems that life loves serving the latter so you better learn how to handle the bumps in the road.

With the little time available, I wrapped up (most) of my work, and figured out an exit plan along with my team, my clients, and my founders. Over the coming weeks I received a lot of advice, from legal to philosophical, from GPs, FO managers, LPs, lawyers, and of course, my father.

The most important nugget of wisdom is to always try your best to do the right thing and be transparent about it.

Now, there’s a lot of legal disclaimers that go along with that and sometimes you simply cannot do everything or other people won’t let you do it, but as long as you can go to sleep at night knowing you have done everything you could you will live a happy life.

Always remember that you only have one reputation.

The break, the search, and the choice

Regardless of the circumstances, I decided to honor a promise I made a while ago to my family and partner and take a trip all together to relax. People close to me know I am terrible at taking time off and disconnecting and for sure I couldn’t have found a better moment to take time off. I had 60 days to find a job before getting deported from the US and 2 weeks to figure things out before my parents came into town and of course, we were still renovating the apartment. As life always does, things came together after all.

Whenever life throws you down, it is just a test to see if you are worthy for what it is to come. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Having now spent time at Deloitte Consulting, ff Venture Capital, VU Venture Partners, Assure Syndicates, invested as an angel and as an LP, published a book, and started a few companies myself (nothing too successful however), the job searching process was shorter than last time when I applied to over 200 jobs before finding a role.

After my post on LinkedIn, I was overwhelmed with support from my network from friends, former colleagues, clients, investors, founders, you name it. It was my most popular post ever on the platform reaching 28,000 impressions and almost 100 comments, still growing to this day. The following weeks, I worked 16-hour days managing all the communications, intros, applications, calls, lunches, and of course the insurmountable pressure and anxiety. I was lucky to have an incredible partner next to me, supporting and encouraging me at every single step.

Keep going whenever life gets difficult. Especially when life gets difficult.

Offers started coming in and then more, just as I was about to leave on the break. I told you things always come together at the right time. This presented a unique opportunity and as one of my closest mentors always say, a good problem to have: choice. And what do you do when you have to take an important decision? You grab a piña colada and a Cuban cigar and start thinking. I had the luck to spend some incredibly relaxing days disconnected from society with plenty of time to ponder on the next steps.

From a remote beach on the beautiful coast of Sint Maarten, with limited wifi connection and indeed a piña colada in my left hand, I signed the paperwork for my next role with Fuel Venture Capital.

The now and the future

I am incredibly excited to have joined Jeff, Maggie, Olivia, Alex, JP, and Jared at Fuel Venture Capital in Coconut Grove, Miami along with Mark as an Investment Associate this June. Their standard of quality, intellectual dynamism, principled behavior, proven track record, and friendly atmosphere make it an incredible place to continue my journey as a VC investor and continue supporting world-class founders on their way to success.

Fuel Venture Capital neon logo in their Coconut Grove, Miami office

Fuel Venture Capital is a mid and late-stage venture capital firm started in 2017, based in Coconut Grove, Miami managing over $400M across several funds. Fuel VC is committed to propelling groundbreaking ideas into world-changing companies and democratizing access to the creative economy to shape the future of society. A core team leads the firm’s “founder-focused, investor-driven” approach with more than 80 years of combined experience in investment banking, wealth management, executive leadership, and entrepreneurship.

The primary fund boasts a portfolio of 33 companies based around the globe across numerous sectors, bringing positive impact to virtually all corners of our modern economy. To learn more about Fuel VC, visit fuelventurecapital.com. You can follow Fuel VC on social media via Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Whether you’re a fellow VC investor, seasoned LP, family office representative, angel investor, an ecosystem builder, or someone who wants to invest in startups, but has no idea where to start, I invite you to connect and join our ecosystem. If you’re a founder looking for smart capital from Series A to pre-IPO, reach out to pitch us.

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