As hands-on investors, we field dozens of questions from our portfolio founders each week, spanning fundraising, hiring, work/life balance, team dynamics, and more.
“I’m in term sheet discussions with a VC for our Series B round. It’s a brand name firm, but I’m a bit nervous about adding them to my Board. Do you know what it’s like to work with them?”
“My work hours have been really long for months on end, and it’s starting to take a toll on my marriage. How do I fix this without putting the company at risk?”
“Our team has doubled in size, and it has changed my relationship with my co-founder. How do we navigate this next stage of growth?”
Running a high pressure, venture-backed startup comes with unique challenges. As much as we pride ourselves on our #valueadd role (yes, you can cringe), there are some topics better suited for founder-to-founder, friend-to-friend conversations.
Founders are often so focused on building their businesses that they lack the time to build the support systems they need. As things get harder, there’s often nowhere to turn.
That’s why we partnered up to launch Off The Record, a private community designed specifically to support founders of venture-backed startups.
So what is Off The Record?
Off The Record is an independent, 501(c)3 non-profit organization designed to support C-level founders of seed and series A startups, both personally and professionally, in an environment of confidentiality, respect, and trust.
Founders are placed into curated ‘pods’ with nine peer entrepreneurs. Each pod is unique, segmented by the founders’ role, industry, and challenges. A facilitator works with founders to guide the initial conversations and then transitions so the participants can meet independently each month.
What are the benefits of participating?
Aside from the unmatched peer support that comes from participating in a founder pod, Off The Record has developed a suite of benefits for participating entrepreneurs and their team members, including:
- Deep investor networks
- Executive briefings
- Annual retreats
- Conferences and speaking opportunities
- A private Slack community to connect with fellow OTR members
- Free and discounted tools
Off The Record has a dedicated network of corporations and executives who serve as advisors, customers, and partners for our founders. We work closely with our partners at Carta, CohnReznick, Davis & Gilbert, First Republic, Microsoft, and WeWork, who provide generous resources and topical expertise to our community.
What’s been going on so far?
Off The Record officially launched in July 2019 with our first cohort in New York. We (the founding VC partners) nominated 34 founders across 25 startups, who were then placed into 5 founder pods. We brought on Jonathan Shapiro, a C-level executive leadership coach and former Chief of Strategy at DoubleClick, to help structure OTR’s long term objectives and onboard the groups.
Though some of our portfolio founders carved out the time to attend while kicking and screaming (half kidding), the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic! We’ve used this first cohort to figure out what works and what doesn’t, to help us fine tune the program for our founders. This is an ever evolving mission and we will continue to tinker with our structure, content, and events based on the needs of our participating founders.
We have opened applications for our next New York cohort. If you are a co-founder of a venture backed startup, you can apply here before January 26, 2020.
We are also planning to expand our presence to other entrepreneurial hubs such as Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago! If you’re a founder who wants to be a part of this program but aren’t in New York, tell us here where you want us to come next!
Excited to kick off the next chapter of Off The Record!
If you are an investor looking to nominate your startup: Join us here
If you are a startup looking for more information: Check out our FAQs
If you are looking to partner with us to host or sponsor a session: Contact us here