Our investment in the professional network for sales.

Today Bravado has come out of stealth mode and announced their Series A, led by Redpoint. I view today as a day to publicly celebrate team Bravado with a special call-out to Sahil Mansuri, the man who initially disappointed his parents, but ended up creating the next big thing for sales.

Image for post
Image for post

Sahil’s parents had high hopes for him. They immigrated from India and wished for their son to become a respected doctor or high-achieving lawyer. Much to their chagrin, he became a sales representative. …


Founders for Change started as a rallying cry among a generation of founders who believe deeply in the power of diversity — not only for their companies but also on their boards and in their cap tables. Since launching in March, the community has grown to 900+ founders representing over $100 billion in capital raised, with more joining every week. The companies range from seed-stage founders to leaders of late-stage and public companies like Dropbox, Lyft, Airbnb, Eventbrite, and Stitch Fix. The founders’ collective voice underscores the desire and demand for change in our industry.

Image for post
Image for post

In the hundreds of conversations that we’ve had with founders over the past few months, it became clear that founders have a consistent ethos when it comes to diversity and inclusion within their startups: diverse organizations produce better results, are more competitive in recruiting and keep toxic cultures at bay. However, we’ve seen varying motivations in their drive for diversity on their boards and in their investors. Trevor McFedries, founder of Brud says he is interested in reshaping the way tech looks and so it was “counterintuitive for us to raise money from a bunch of white guys.” Jack Conte, founder of Patreon, shared that he couldn’t fairly pound his fist internally about the importance of D&I and then walk into a board meeting with all white males. Todd Berman of EveryTeam said ‘We are white male founders building a collaboration product, so paying attention to diversity out of the gate was incredibly important. Having diverse investors on our cap table and in our network has enabled us to build a better product.’ …


As a founder, I fell prey to the beautiful resume more than once. I believed that my startups had gotten far enough along and were now worthy of the people who had worked in top positions at the very best companies. I assumed by the virtue of these people’s pedigrees that they would come in and help our business explode (the good kind of explode, that is). I gave them significant equity and better salaries than my own, confident that they would more than pay for themselves. I was disappointed many times.

There are big-company people and there are startup people. Startup people may work for a big company and big-company people may work for startups. My definition is not based on where they are currently employed, but rather on how they act and what drives them. …


Image for post
Image for post

We often hear stories about startups that spent too much, too fast and many times, spent foolishly on things like parties and Herman Miller chairs for all. What we don’t hear enough about are the startups that were too frugal and rather than investing in key initiatives, they held onto cash for dear life.

The good news is that these frugal startups stayed alive longer. The bad news is that no one cared — they didn’t move their business far enough with their seed capital and therefore, were unable to raise the follow-on financing they needed. …


Image for post
Image for post

As a VC, I work hard to earn the trust of my entrepreneurs. The moment I wire the money, in my mind, our interests are aligned — we both want them and their company to be wildly successful. Because being a founder is one of the most stressful jobs there is, I not only find myself helping with strategy, but often playing the role of business (and sometimes personal) therapist. I welcome the good, the bad and the ugly and find the trust that is built while working so closely with my founders to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. However, not all entrepreneurs are comfortable trusting their VC and when I cannot break through, it befuddles me. …


Image for post
Image for post

Everyone talks about how important the founding team is when VCs are looking at investing in start-ups but rarely do we VCs tell you founders exactly what we are looking for. This is because it is hard to say exactly — ‘I know it when I see it’ often gets thrown around. But the truth is that many of us VCs do have a list of traits that we are looking for in our founders.

Here is a list of attributes that that I look for, many of which I know are shared by my VC peers…

  • Passion for what they are creating. The more creating the company is a calling vs. coming at it from a ‘what business should I start’ exercise, the better. …


Image for post
Image for post

Last week I agreed to hear a founder’s pitch and give feedback. I knew ahead of time that the company was not a good fit for my portfolio, but I wanted to help my friend who was helping the founder (and I was further inclined to take the meeting because the company has a woman founder). We scheduled 30 minutes. At the start of the meeting, she went directly into the pitch. Seven to 10 minutes later, I was fatigued by all the talking yet, I still did not know what exactly she was building and why the world needs it. I cannot tell you how often this happens. …


Image for post
Image for post
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Many entrepreneurs need to sell their products to businesses to have businesses themselves — B2B. They have researched the market and built products that solve a lot of pain. Yet, the companies they are trying to sell to are not buying, or are taking a long time to make a decision. Every day without the sale puts the founder another day further from traction, revenue and potentially, funding . “How could they not want this product and want it yesterday?!” thinks the entrepreneur. Maybe you need to sell them some Viagra.

I recently had coffee with Dick Hardt, who works on identity at Amazon and had written a post on exactly this issue many years ago. The lights went on for me as he described product categories as Vitamins, Painkillers or Viagra. …


About a year ago I was on an investor panel with hundreds of women founders in the audience. A woman stood up and asked “What do you recommend to us women who are about to fundraise given the odds are against us?” As this question was asked, the women around the room looked like deer in headlights. What have we investors and the media done? While raising awareness of a very serious issue (in case you haven’t heard, the vast majority of venture capital has gone to male founded companies v. female founded), we have helped perpetuate the exact cycles we mean to call out and squash. …


Fund raising is not something most entrepreneurs look forward to doing and that may be the understatement of the year. Some fear the rejection, some are concerned about the time suck and the impact it will have on their business, and others are simply nervous because they have never done it before. Many women in particular have been scared away by reading one too many articles about how hard it is to raise VC money as a female. …

About

Jenny Lefcourt

Serial entrepreneur, investor at Freestyle, poker player in the making, and avid scuba diver. Happily married mom of 3!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store