What’s your personal strategy for sourcing deals and sustaining a high-potential top of funnel for your dealflow? What are your top tips for effectively communicating the potential of a deal to higher-ups in VC?
The thesis really helps here. We often outreach to founders who are building things that we think align with the types of businesses we are looking for.
Another tool we often do use is to blog about the types of businesses we are interested in backing to get the word out to founders who are looking for aligned VCs.
As a non-partner VC, working as an analyst, what does your dynamic look like with your other colleagues?
USV has a great, collaborative team dynamic. A group of us have a weekly meeting where the format is everyone brings a question to discuss. This meeting has the very formal name weekly top of funnel brain jam.
To share ideas, we also have an all-team, three-hour discussion once every other month. Usually there is an agenda of questions or themes we’d like to discuss and often someone will send around some pre-reading.
Why venture as opposed to operating at this age and stage of your life?
A really valuable lesson I learned from Dane Knecht, my manager at Cloudflare, is that a great way to get up to speed on something is to try to build it. At the time, I was working on an IoT authentication product. He sat with me for an afternoon and helped me build the first (very basic) prototype.
I think that’s very applicable in venture where the job requires getting up to speed quickly. As I’ve been working at USV I’ve also been tinkering on lots of small side projects that have helped me better understand the spaces I look at.
What do you hope for your professional future, in or beyond VC?
I really don’t know yet. I do hope that in the future I am lucky enough to continue to work with people I respect, enjoy, and find endlessly interesting. I have been lucky to get to do that at Cloudflare and at USV.
It’s no surprise that women and people of color are underrepresented in venture. As a woman, when have you felt most empowered and encouraged? When have you felt most discouraged or frustrated? What are the top 1-3 things men and non-straight white cis people in VC can do, in your experience, to bolster diversity and inclusion within the industry?
I am wildly lucky to work with a team of people who see me at face value. I realize that is not something every person gets to have at their place of work.
My colleague Rebecca recently wrote a fantastic piece for HBR about actionable things we can all do to advance gender equality. I recommend everyone go read it, it’s clear, insightful and actionable. Here’s a sample:
“Social media has made elevating other women easier than ever. We all have the ability to be each other’s promoters and advocates. Sing the praises of your coworker who won the deal or built the product. Find reasons to share with your community the accomplishments of women you admire. Doing this encourages others to follow suit — and perhaps to do more than they thought they could. When I was four months pregnant with my son, Max, I watched Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix ring the Nasdaq opening bell with her toddler in one arm, and I felt the importance of the moment. Her personal balancing act was a reminder that I could attempt the same. So much more seems possible when you see it with your own eyes: If she can do it, I can, too.”
Which other non-partner VCs are you’re most inspired by, and why?
Shoutout to the other two analysts at USV: Naomi and Zach. They are thoughtful, genuine, curious, humble, collaborative, accepting and creative––they rock.