I’ve got a new gig (in venture capital).
I’ve got a new gig. I’m joining Pillar as a Partner.
Back in June, when I left Pluralsight, the last place I thought I’d end up was in venture capital. I was a lifelong builder, ready for a fresh start. But as soon as I met Jamie Goldstein, I knew I’d found my home at Pillar. I was immediately struck by his vision for our fund, and knew I had to help bring it to life.
I heard a great Tech In Boston podcast recently with Ellen Rubin. Ellen talked about the importance of the ‘Chicago snowstorm test’ when choosing a partner — consider how you would feel if you were stuck in a snowstorm with someone, forced to make conversation for hours. Jamie passed the test. With 18 years in venture capital, he’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in the industry. He’s passionate about creating a fresh approach to venture that puts VCs on the same plane with entrepreneurs — true partnership.
We’ve invested in five companies to date, and over the last few months, I’ve experienced Jamie’s authentic commitment to supporting the interests of our entrepreneurs. Pillar is offering the option of common stock on any deal we lead, a radical move that aligns our interests with entrepreneurs. We’re collaborating with a team of 16 world-class CEOs, people like ashashutosh(Actifio), Jeremy Hitchcock (Dyn), Jason Robins (DraftKings), Tom Ebling (Demandware), Tom Erickson (Acquia), Steve Kokinos (Fuze), and Niraj Shah and Steve Conine (Wayfair), who are investors in our fund, and are mentors, advisors and board members to our companies. And now we’re building a group of operators and resources to support our entrepreneurs as they scale — that’s where I come in.
As part of my new role, I’ll be making some investments on behalf of Pillar, but my primary focus will be on building our Access program. We’ve been inspired by the unparalleled value Andreessen Horowitz provides to entrepreneurs on the west coast, and are taking a cue from the success of their model in developing our approach. While we don’t have billions under management, we think there’s a huge opportunity to bring the best elements of their framework to early-stage investing in Boston.
I’ve had the good fortune to work with a few exceptional teams over the last few years who have built standout companies. One thing was a constant across every one — we were hungry for customer introductions, experienced team members, and operational expertise. Pillar’s Access program will deliver on all three.
Our executive briefing team will curate a group of CSOs, CIOs, CTOs and tech executives from enterprise companies, providing direct access to our portfolio. Our talent team will cultivate a community of leaders in Boston who serve as executives, board members, mentors, and advisors to our companies. Our insight team will provide direct access to marketing and leadership guidance. As the co-founder of Intelligent.ly, a leadership development company that has shaped over 1,000 emerging leaders across Boston, I saw early on that there is a leadership and talent gap in high-growth companies; our ability to draw on this experience uniquely positions us to help our portfolio companies develop the skills and relationships they need as they scale.
One of the things that most excites me about being part of Pillar is the chance to learn about so many new technologies. Every day brings an opportunity to meet with startups working with robotics, AI, IoT, machine learning — technologies that are transforming the way we live and work. With MIT nested right in our backyard, and a community of veteran entrepreneurs in our midst, there’s no better hub for innovation in these frontier technologies.
If you’re launching a company or want to get involved with one of our startups, I’d love to connect. Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org), shoot me a tweet (@hodges), or follow me on Medium (Sarah Hodges).
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