On Skipping Brunch, Service, and the Pursuit of 10 People

Posted on September 13, 2020. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Chris and I spent Saturday morning on Zoom with a founder who is in the last stages of a pretty intentional fundraise process. There’s something I love about a founder who validates an investor’s level of interest and commitment by their willingness to speak early on a Saturday morning. In times like these, where lazy, momentum oriented investors will throw money at anything that’s “working,“ conviction means something different. I love a founder who says “i’ve got plenty of people asking to invest, but are you willing to skip your brunch this weekend because that’s what my company needs in this pivotal moment?”

For Pace, it’s a no brainer. Service and support for founders is at the core of what we do. It’s a philosophy that extends to our prospective partners the same as it does founders with whom we already work. Pace, by design, makes very few investments each year. It allows us to concentrate on relationships that matter. We love that board seats don’t scale. We take a drop everything, full resource of our team at the moment of need, approach to serving founders, and we’ve organized our firm in a way that allows that practice to be sustainable in perpetuity. There are a lot of different ways that VC firms try to scale GP time: large platform efforts, function specific services, junior investment professionals filling in at board meetings…all levers to pull so that the incremental GP at Megafirm X can hold 22 board seats while slinging another 10 “small checks” per year. Those approaches just aren’t us. We don’t want to scale. We’re optimizing for fewer deeper relationships and there’s nothing I would rather be doing on Saturday morning than developing depth with someone who inspires me.

I recently internalized a pretty clarifying framework around partnering with founders in these frenzied times. I’ve come to believe that there are about 10 professional relationships that will define the next decade of my life. When I’m thinking about making an investment and committing to serve on a company’s board, I ask myself “is this person(s) one of those 10 people?” Of course the product matters a ton, the mission matters a ton, the market matters, the economic opportunity matters, etc…but at the end of the day we are the aggregate of those with whom we spend our time, and distilling complex decisions down to something as simple as “who are this decade’s 10 people?” has proven to be a useful lens.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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