Investor, Founder Collective
Founder Collective is an investment fund that invests in early-stage tech companies. For instance, if you were to start a tech company and needed money to hire employees and get an office space, you would approach a fund like ours. My primary job is to meet entrepreneurs and evaluate their business plans and help make investment decisions. I also help entrepreneurs once we make an investment in various areas including recruiting, marketing and strategy.
What is a typical day like for you?
While each day is quite different, a typical week would include a series of meetings with entrepreneurs pitching their businesses, working with our existing portfolio founder and CEOs and attending networking events in the community to find new opportunities to invest in.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Through my job, I interact with some of the smartest minds in the industry that are committed to changing the world. Each and every entrepreneur that I come across has a big vision to change the world and treat their startups like their babies. The opportunity to help these amazing people is a truly humbling and delightful experience.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
A typical company takes 5-7 years from the time we make an investment to fully grow and flourish. However, it is likely that some companies we invest in don’t end up achieving their desired goal and either shut down or sell early. As early stage investors, we don’t know the fate of our investments (i.e. our “performance feedback”) for several years and this can be frustrating sometimes.
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
It is very important to have both a technical background and operational experience for this job. I studied Software Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Having fundamental knowledge on how technical products are built is critical to be able to accurately evaluate tech businesses.
Furthermore, I started my own mobile company after I graduated from UW. The experience of building a tech business gives me the perspective I need to evaluate other companies. I am also able to better help the companies we invest in since I have gone through the same experience. This support ranges from hiring employees, selling to customers and building the product.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
The experience of starting my own company and raising money from outside investors first exposed me to this job. I got first-hand experience on how investors add value to the company and it seemed like an interesting career. Pursuing an MBA gave me the opportunity to explore this path during my internship and I decided to pursue it full-time after graduation.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
My biggest advice would be to make sure you pursue a technical major in undergrad. If you have a passion for software, that’s even better! The need for people trained in software is increasing everyday, and pursuing this will open many doors for you.
Second advice would be to gain operational experience by working at a company before you pursue investing. Ideally, you would also work at a startup so you know what it’s like to work at a small company and see it grow. The challenges that startups face are very different than what large, more established companies face.
Last but not least, if you feel adventurous, also consider starting your own technology company. The experience you will get from starting your company is unmatched by working for someone else.
How does your job make a difference?
Startups are the engine of innovation in this world. Think of products you use regularly – Google search, Microsoft Office, Apple iPhone – these products are produced by companies that were startups at one point, funded by investors such as the firm I work for. Companies we fund create products that improve the lives of people around the world. They create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax money. Without the initial investment, most, if not all of these companies would have never started.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
I use my knowledge of technology to properly evaluate companies that ask us for funding. I have to be able to analyze how hard it would be build the product they are proposing and how much it will cost. This is critical for us to be able to make good investment decisions.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?
I wish I had learnt accounting while I was in high school. When you start a business, you have to be able to manage the finances. I didn’t have even basic knowledge of accounting and had to learn everything on the fly.
What makes this job right for you?
I love the intellectual challenge that comes with the job. Since we can only invest in a limited number of companies, I am forced to decide between very compelling business opportunities. Every company will have gaps and areas for improvement, and there is nothing like a “perfect business.” While we perform thorough analysis on the companies we invest in, we have to make a gut-based decision at the end of the day. The excitement of the job combined with the opportunity to work with incredible people makes this a fun job!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I am a big outdoors person. I recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, tallest freestanding mountain in the world and the highest peak in Africa.
I love to travel. I’ve been to 6 continents, over 40 countries and have lived in over 10 cities.
I would recommend you take the opportunity to explore the world while you are still young and have the energy.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
After taking a nice long vacation and traveling some more, probably come back and continue investing in amazing technology companies!
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