What is one pitfall that entrepreneurs should watch out for?
We all have a tendency to over-weigh our most recent experiences (called “recency bias”). What that means for entrepreneurs is they’ll want to over-correct for whatever they didn’t like in their last experience. In other words, they focus on fighting their last battle. So when I start working closely with a team, I’ll ask, “In your last situation, what worked really well? And what would you absolutely want to do differently?” These answers can reflect biases that might not be effective for the situation at hand. I see part of my job as helping make sure the team is seeing the current situation properly and isn’t caught up fighting a previous war.
What unique contributions would you make to a company as a VC?
It’s way too easy to forget about the human element of startups. We get fixated on metrics and products, but people and their passion are what drive startups. In my role, I try to strengthen that passion and focus on helping people thrive. On the business front, that means helping the entrepreneur see further into the future. That way he or she can make better decisions and learn faster. On the personal side, that means making sure he or she is mindful of his or her own health. I don’t see a trade-off between personal well-being and professional success. I see each one as support for the other.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a VC?
What I find most rewarding is being able to team up with incredible people as they pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. It’s an honor to watch these dreams realized.