Jumping into a VC rabbit hole

Ela Madej
Ela Madej
Nov 25, 2014 · 4 min read

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat. “We’re all mad here.”

One of my favorite books of all time is “Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland”. What did Alice teach me? That some of the best people you’ll meet in life will be—in some ways—“mad”. And that when you see a rabbit hole that calls you,

you first take a deep inhale. And then you jump.

Looking back, it’s been quite an adventure.

When Piotr Wilam, one of the founders and partners at Innovation Nest — Poland’s most reputable early stage, B2B-focused VC fund — approached me for the first time, I didn’t take it seriously.

Me, a venture capitalist?

The more I thought over joining Innovation Nest, the more I realized I had already been doing much of what the best VCs do — I’d been building startup ecosystems by running Hive and organizing big tech events. I’d been working with entrepreneurs to help them build their startup dreams with Applicake. I’d been building a network of amazing entrepreneurs and developers all that time.

Even more importantly, I realized I could use my diverse operational experience to help early stage teams and founders. I know B2B and B2D sales. I’m still involved in startup operations both in the U.S. and Europe. I know startup finance. I’ve been through the best tech accelerator in the world (Y Combinator). I’ve experienced the emotional roller coaster of running a startup and how to build a strong company culture to get through it. I’ve recruited and managed teams, and developed a great sense for people in doing so. I founded and built successful companies. I founded and failed a not-so-successful one. I know people. I could really add value. To my investor friends in the U.S. I could bring filtered access to a geography they know little of and I can also bring something sorely needed in VC: a strong, focused, non-apologetic female perspective.

So I made the jump. I’m an investor in New York City.

I really respect Innovation Nest’s vision of helping European tech flourish, and I like the idea of continuing what I started with Applicake and Hive — working with entrepreneurs with big visions and empowering founders to do more. I want to see more European startups go global, and I want a fund from my beloved hometown Kraków to lead the way.

After a longer break, it’s exciting to be back in the adventurous world of technology again, while also being able to look at things from a new perspective. I’ll try to log the details of the Innovation Nest adventure on this blog. In the meantime, wish me luck and send great founders my way.

Thanks to Seth Bannon.

    Ela Madej

    Written by

    Ela Madej

    Entrepreneur. Impact investor. I dream big and I laugh a lot.