I'm very excited to announce that I've joined First Round Capital as a partner in their San Francisco office. After many years of starting and operating companies, as well as a "part time" role at Founder Collective, I decided to fully switch to the other side of the table.
When I first started down the path of looking for a full time venture job, I thought back to the companies I started and what I experienced with my venture investors over the years. As an entrepreneur, I was lucky to be funded by many fantastic VCs. They were hugely helpful with capital, introductions, support, building boards, planning exits and providing strategic input on company direction.
But, I always found myself wanting a bit more.
As an entrepreneur, you spend 90% of your time on execution and tactics and less than 10% on strategy. Strategy may be set and reviewed once or twice a year with your team and board. The rest of your time is spent executing. Venture investors provide great input on strategy or "what" to do, but leave it to you to figure out tactics or "how" best to get it done. Some entrepreneurs may prefer it this way. But, after starting multiple companies, I found the best practices were often evolving. What worked to acquire users five years ago does not work today. The same goes for finding engineers, choosing the right development platform, closing lighthouse customers and many other areas.
Since they look across dozens of high growth investments, I thought venture firms would be in the prime position to relate the best practices in today's market. Sometimes they do, but I found it quite rare. I'm convinced this is because the best venture investors are pattern matchers who spend most of their time finding great teams going after great markets. The mental muscle necessary to invest at a world class level is very different than solving day to day business challenges.
I found the best help was always from other entrepreneurs who were actively in the market building companies. They faced the same issues I did every day.
Finding innovative ways to create connections between entrepreneurs is a core strategy at First Round Capital and a primary reason I chose to join the team. First Round is the only venture firm I know of that has a full time engineering team building tools and a platform to enable online connections. We also have over 40 offline events a year, from guest speaker talks on growth hacking to a fantastic CTO summit that brings all the CTOs across the portfolio together to discuss common challenges. We continually innovate, recently launching the Dorm Room Fund to better connect students to capital and HackPR to better connect entrepreneurs and press.
My personal connection to First Round dates back over a decade. When I was running my first business as an undergrad at Cornell, Josh Kopelman was my biggest customer. We've been friends for years and had the opportunity to help each other as entrepreneurs and invest together across multiple companies. Through Josh, I met Howard Morgan, who I worked with at idealab. I spent the summer getting to know the rest of the partners--Rob, Chris, Kent and Phin. They are all fantastic at helping entrepreneurs win, both individually and as a team. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
Finally, since this is my first blog post, I thought I would take a moment to say what I want to do here. In the spirit of entrepreneurs helping each other, I am going to devote my personal blog to interviews, tips, tricks and (hopefully) unique findings I've gathered from the many entrepreneurs I interact with each week. Instead of strategy, which I believe is well covered, I will focus on the actionable and tactical. I hope you'll join me.
You can follow me on twitter @btrenchard and RSS.