General Partner @ Partech,
Founding Partner @ Irregular Expressions.
Investor @ Memfault, Medigate, People.ai, Canva, Treasure Data, ProdPerfect, Okay, Clubhouse.io, Datakin, User Interviews, Educative, Alectio, Grove Financial, Bison Trails, Nivelo, Trade Up, Atomic Invest, KickPay, Firefly, MindKick, Antheia.
Whether or not you’re fundraising right now. Actually, all the more so if you’re not. Companies are built over many years, and the investors you bring on to support you on that journey will likely be around through most of it. So we both want to maximize the odds we’re a great and valuable match. Proxies help: what we’ve done, with whom, etc. But to truly find out, nothing beats getting to know each other early. We’ll learn answers to two questions: are our areas of interests aligned, and can we grow the company faster and more successfully?
I look to back founders building engines of collective progress.
As an investor, I’ve long been inspired to take on the problems I faced building my own startups, in product and engineering roles. This has kept leading me to two distinct categories of companies.
First, systems and platforms transforming the work experience of technologists — whether software engineers, designers, project managers or data scientists — and that in the process make them qualitatively more effective and productive. I view technology, applied responsibly, as one of the core drivers of sustainable progress, and equipping those building the future with the best tools simply yet powerfully accelerates our journey on that arc. Think Dev Tools, Dev Ops, Engineering and Data Infrastructure, Machine Learning and ML Ops platforms.
Second, rather orthogonally, fintech and embedded finance companies. I was lucky enough to work on Mint’s core data aggregation system early on, and that first foray into the dawn of fintech illustrated vividly the crucial role of finance in our lives. At Cadre much later on, we focused on democratizing access to institutional-grade commercial real estate investments. Just like accelerating the development of technology is a fundamental engine of progress, I believe modernizing our financial infrastructure and expanding access for all to innovative financial services is an essential vector of equity.
Once an engineer, always an engineer: I think in systems, whether it’s about refining a recruiting process, a product organization, or a sales playbook.
For over twenty years, I worked with amazing teams and co-founders, typically as CTO or VP of Engineering, at quite a few startups. Activeweave, Twelve Fold, One Kings Lane, Fountain, Porch, Ring. Most notably Mint and Cadre, both fintech companies.
Engineering and Product Organizations
In addition to lots of scar tissue, that long operating career left me an undiminished passion for the crucial roles great product and engineering teams play in the outcome. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of hiring and retaining exceptional people when building astounding technology that meets the needs of a thriving market. Naturally, this extends to equipping those teams with the best tools and practices out there. Let’s invest early in
- Team development,
- Organizational design,
- Engineering processes,
- Fine-tuning product-market fit,
- Avoiding scope creep.
Building it doesn’t mean they will come, not without a repeatable playbook to acquire and retain customers. Whether it’s product-led growth, top-down or bottom-up, your go-to-market strategy is ultimately what propels the company, or stalls it. While I often defer to my partner Reza, whose entire operating career has been spent in marketing and sales, I also bring to bear a deep network of specialists whose collective experience translates into actionable tactics in most configurations.
Ultimately, one of the most powerful reasons I specialize so narrowly is to nurture an ecosystem of investors, customers, partners and acquirers truly valuable as you grow the company. I help you connect with two main ecosystems: engineering and product leaders, and fintech practitioners.
A helpful band of nerds
I initially brought together that syndicate of early stage investors — now including over 75 CTOs, VPs of Engineering at high-growth technology startups, to further extend, amplify and tailor to various industries and companies the perspective and advice I could share from my own experience. The group has proven a valuable, specific, tactical as much as strategic resource to founders. It doesn’t hurt that everyone’s teams at work are avid consumers and producers of engineering infrastructure.
With an industry now encompassing financial infrastructure, and with the diffusion of many financial functions into a far-reaching pool of companies, thinking systemically about — and connecting with — the downstream actors in the field is critical in meeting the needs of the market, as the realm of prospective customers and acquirers widens. Similarly, cross-pollinating strategies with founders serving similar customers has proven a powerful growth accelerant.