Career Pivots

Mentorship, being a “Founders’ VC", and balancing investing and operating

January 20, 2021

At Propel, we host events spotlighting leaders and founders. We share their most candid and relevant learnings on the blog.

On discovering up-and-coming companies

l found there were two ways to think about it. "I'm going to hear about people starting companies through other investors," or, "I'm going to really spend time really learning at the founder level." I joined venture because of founders, and so made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a Founders' VC."

On balancing breadth and depth at First Round

First Round is industry agnostic but stage specific - more than anything, it's generally the 'first round' of institutional funding. And so as a team, First Round has developed a product to really understand people and their insights at the earliest stages of company creation; that's the specialization. Then, over a career building a large community, for every industry you have a network you can tap into to diligence opportunities more deeply.

On mentorship

Mentors are so important. They allow you to take up space. They empower you to claim your seat at the table. Since I felt able to ask time of my mentor at First Round, I felt able to ask time of other partners. I don't think I would have felt like I had the ability to do that if I hadn't felt like someone was in my corner.'

On whether an MBA is necessary for venture

l don't think there's anything you really need from business school to be in venture, particularly at the early stages. In my mind, it's really about understanding people, being able to see and identify interesting opportunities, and having a perspective. The later you go and the closer to PE you get the more traditional backgrounds get, and an MBA can be helpful there.

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