Ever since I became a VC, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is: “Don’t you miss being an entrepreneur? Will you ever do another startup?” And I think my answer typically surprises people – because my answer to the question is always: “First Round Capital is a startup – it’s just a startup venture firm.” Just like Half.com was started to capitalize on a gap between eBay and Amazon, First Round Capital was started back in 2004 to fill the gap between venture funds and angel investing.
I’ve often said how surprising it is that an industry that exists to support innovation and disruption has changed so little. While there have been some really positive changes in the last few years, for the most part it seems that the biggest innovation in venture capital during the last forty years has been the increase in carried interest from 20% to 25%. As a firm, we’ve tried to do things differently – and rethink traditional venture orthodoxy. We’re stage specific (seed), distributed (with three offices), and active (we were the most active-seed fund last year). We even hold our partner meetings on Thursday (gasp!) so that we have the ability to meet with almost any entrepreneur we want to on a Monday.
And while I’m super excited about the strength of our investment team, and the value we can add personally -- we’ve worked very hard to transform our portfolio of entrepreneurs from an unconnected group of companies working independently into a community of entrepreneurs who help each other. We’ve invested heavily in building products, events and services to help our entrepreneurs help each other. What began as a simple Yahoo Group email list for our CEOs six years ago has now grown into a full-fledged online network – we are one of the only venture funds I know that has full time engineers working on products for our entrepreneurs. We hold more summits, workshops and dinners than most event planning companies. And our Venture Concierge service has saved our CEOs hundreds of hours of time by providing them with a lightweight consulting/research service.
The reason we show up to work every day is to help amazing entrepreneurs succeed. We want First Round to be a founders First Call . And we try to provide our entrepreneurs with assistance both from our investment professionals as well as from the First Round “platform”. All of these platform initiatives don’t happen accidentally – they require a ton of investment and hard work. That’s why I’m so excited to announce that Brett Berson has been promoted to serve as our Vice President of Platform. Brett joined First Round Capital as an intern in 2008 (following in the footsteps of other FRC interns like Nat Turner, Jason Toff and Phin Barnes) and I don’t think he’s taken a day off since he joined. As a former film-school graduate, Brett is the force behind our holiday videos and has helped us grow our platform initiatives from ideas on the back of a napkin to reality. He doesn’t do this alone – he’s built a platform team of six amazing people. And we all couldn’t be happier that Brett’s title reflects the reality of his contributions – and look forward to years of continued innovation with Brett leading the way…