Does anyone here have experience with getting their leadership role through VC Endorsement?

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Kevin Mitchell Leonor
Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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edited August 2023 in CS Conversations
Back when I was working at Duetto, I was speaking with our CFO. He told me he didn't have previous experience as a CFO. He studied finance while working as a software developer. His first role in finance was as a CFO and he said that he was endorsed by a VC who introduced him to Duetto's leadership. He mentioned this occurrence happens as common as getting promoted into the role especially in SaaS. 

Does anyone here have a similar experience? How do you gain that kind of influence and favor within the VC community?
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  • Laura Lakhwara
    Laura Lakhwara Member Posts: 45 Expert
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    edited December 2021
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    Hi Kevin,

    Great question! VCs are incentivized to place top talent at their portfolio companies and support the company's scale and retention.

    There are a few approaches that lead to relationships with VCs and potential referrals down the line:
    • Executive position at existing company and presenting to the board
    • Founder introductions to their VCs/investors - do you consult or coach any companies on their customer success programming? Founder recommendations always help in credibility.
    • Network: Find the top VCs with portfolio companies of interest. Network via warm intros, events, or even a cold pitch by showcasing your work. Check out VCs that have specializations in CS  - https://www.insightpartners.com/; Look for those who are from customer-facing roles in VC and angel: Rav Dhaliwal CS Executive to angel investor/VC https://www.linkedin.com/in/ravinderdhaliwal/ or Ellie Wu in CS and angel investing https://www.linkedin.com/in/elliewu
    • Pitch to speak on CS to VC portfolio companies. VCs will host community events, and startups always need feedback on when to start CS, what type of hires to look for, where to start with building a customer journey, and more.
    • VCs are on Twitter and were (are?) :) on Clubhouse - opportunities to engage there.
    Like many of us, VCs have moved across the US and globally to set up shop so make sure to engage locally as well. It's not only SF/Bay, NYC, and Boston anymore, and there is extra pressure on hiring for everyone. Additionally, investment and new funds/GPs in underserved communities are growing so I believe it's one of the best times to be networking in this area.

    Good luck and always happy to spitball more ideas!
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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    edited December 2021
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    Not a problem. Actually a good opportunity
  • Doug Valente
    Doug Valente Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited December 2021
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    Hi Kevin,

    Great topic and @Laura Lakhwara is 100% correct. I would add a couple of thoughts. 

    As Laura said, treat any VC / Founder contacts as opportunities to network (IRL or virtually). One of the biggest mistakes I have heard people make is to be transactional with their contacts (i.e. they only hear from you when you want something) and not lay the successful groundwork for the relationship. Ideally, you want them to have you in their subconscious any time one of their portfolio companies says something like "hey, do you know anyone who can help us with (this function)?"

    Keep in mind that your relationship with the VC may get you a connection to a company in their portfolio, you will still have to convince the (Executives / Founders) that you're the right person to remove risk in the role they are hiring for. A VC rarely will force a hire with their companies unless they have lost confidence in the team that is there (and that is not always a good sign). 

    Connecting with founders is sometimes more fruitful as they are directly responsible for the company's outcomes. Being familiar with the executive team and following the company's progress will benefit you in discussions with any VC.
  • Kevin Mitchell Leonor
    Kevin Mitchell Leonor Member Posts: 248 Expert
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    edited December 2021
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    Love that perspective. Thanks