My Boomerang Back to Maven Ventures
After working at a portfolio company, I’ve joined Maven Ventures for the second time. Here’s the story:
I joined Maven Ventures in 2015. I loved my first tour of duty at the firm, but something was missing. I wanted more hands-on operating skills to go deeper into my role. Having never worked full-time at a startup, I wanted more perspective to assess potential investments and offer more effective guidance to portfolio companies. So, in 2018, with the Maven team’s blessing and encouragement, I began a process of interviewing at many of our portfolio companies for full-time roles.
I ultimately ended up at Skip — an electric scooter sharing startup. Several reasons drove me to choose Skip from Maven’s many exciting portfolio companies, but one particularly impactful conversation stands out. Cat Lee, an early employee at Facebook and Pinterest, encouraged me to join a company whose product I loved. A product that I would be motivated to bust my a** daily to see exist in the world. And Skip’s scooters were exactly that. They’re getting cars off the roads, making cities more liveable, and most of all, they’re fun.
At Skip, I got the tour de Startup. On my first day of work, I flew straight to Portland to help launch that market. My early projects included building our repair operation and working with our charging force of Rangers, like Ranger Rob, to keep charged Skips on the PDX streets. I later helped launch Skip in San Francisco, worked on business operations and finance.
I will always look very fondly upon my time at Skip. Few things compare to the excitement of launching from scratch a novel service that people love. Handing a rider their first-ever Skip and watching their smiles as they zipped away was constant motivation.
Earlier this year, I boomeranged from Skip back to Maven Ventures and a few people asked me why. Here are some of the reasons:
The seismic shift in behavior we’re currently experiencing creates huge VC opportunities.
We’re currently experiencing the most massive behavioral shift in our daily consumer habits that most have seen in their lifetimes. None of our routines have been unaffected by the pandemic. As we adjust how we move, work, communicate and eat, huge, exciting opportunities for new technology companies are arising. The Maven team has already had success backing category-defining companies like Zoom and Cruise, and I can’t wait to find the next in our new normal world.
And, Maven’s focus on consumer brands is especially timely.
Maven Ventures focuses on backing entrepreneurs building companies that positively transform people’s lives. As people everywhere rethink their routines, I believe consumer opportunities will have the highest potential, and this focus is also of particular interest to me personally.
There are many problems that need fixing right now.
This year has raised a magnifying glass against the cracks in our society, and we desperately need solutions. Our portfolio company founders who are working tirelessly to bring their visions worth fighting for to the world get all the praise for doing the fixing. I’m humbled to support them from the sidelines however I can and to help guide capital to the right startups — companies that are making our world more inhabitable for all. Companies like: Hello Heart helping address chronic heart disease; Epic! allowing students across the world to access high-quality kid’s books, Nuggs decreasing our reliance on meat; Carrot making fertility benefits more accessible; the list goes on.
The VC investment horizon is particularly long, and there’s high value in watching Maven’s founders over the long run.
It takes many years to determine whether or not a VC investment is a success. In VC it’s helpful to bloom where you’re planted to be able to watch portfolio companies' journeys over a long period of time. Watching how founders navigate changing environments, address “bet the company” decisions, and most importantly develop as leaders creates the necessary pattern recognition to invest in the next great entrepreneurs. The value of being able to watch our portfolio founders and companies develop over time presented a very compelling case to rejoin Maven. When I first met Joe Du Bey, for example, Eden had yet to make a full-time hire. Now the company is live internationally, and I can’t wait to watch their continued success and learn from Joe’s admirable leadership.
The best relationships grow with compound interest.
Beyond the founders, I’m excited to continue to build my relationships with my VC peers and friends. I’d be remiss not to mention the Maven partners — Jim and Sara — who were a huge reason for my return. Their mentorship has always steered me in the right direction, and their welcoming me back speaks volumes to the firm they’re building at Maven.
Properly examining a startup investment requires looking at it from many angles.
Startups are like diamonds — you have to examine them from many angles to determine the value. I was lucky to be part of Maven’s seed investment in Skip, work full time at the startup across a few roles, and now reassume my seat as an investor. The opportunity to see how the strengths and risks we initially identified when evaluating the investment have panned out from both inside the company and now as a continued investor will serve me well in my continued role at Maven.
I feel incredibly lucky to be boomeranging back to Maven Ventures. I know my experiences loading scooters into Ranger Rob’s pickup truck in Portland and spending late nights with the Skip leadership team provide a newfound empathy with the founders we back.
I’m very excited to be starting this next chapter and hope to have you along for the ride on Twitter and Medium. I have a strong feeling my second tour at Maven is going to be even better than the first.