Origin Story: In a couple sentences, how would you describe your path to becoming an investor?
I started angel investing in 2017, mostly in companies that were being started by friends or by former Managed by Q employees. Over the past several years I've slowly scaled up and after the sale of Managed by Q to WeWork in 2019 have transitioned to investing and advising early stage companies more or less full time.
Investment Approach: What are the key factors you consider when evaluating a founding team?
I want to see that founders have a genuine obsession for the problem they are trying to solve and the customer they are choosing to serve, and that they have a clear understanding of what competencies are going to be required to be successful early on and are able to solve for those competencies on the founding team, and demonstrated ability to learn quickly and adapt to feedback and new information.
What's your style and approach when it comes to working with founders post-investment? What are the characteristics of founders you've worked well with?
I was very fortunate to have angel investors who picked up the phone whenever I needed them, no matter how bad things were, and gave clear and unemotional feedback to help me move the business forward. I try to do that for the founders that I work with. Tactically that can look like coaching a founder on negotiating a term sheet, or role playing a hard conversation like firing an executive for the first time.
I work well with founders who are disciplined in how they manage their business (goal setting, communication), transparent in where they need help and why, and relentless in seeking to improve themselves and their organizations. I also prefer to work with people that don't take themselves too seriously, because life is short and building should be fun.
If I'm coming to pitch to you or your firm, what's the one piece of advice you'd give me?
I want to know that a founder is obsessed with the problem they are trying to solve and the customer they are serving. This might mean that they've been working in the field their entire life, or that they spent the last 6 months doing 100 customer interviews, either way they need to show me that they have cultivated a real obsession and passion for the domain and have a unique point of view on the opportunity. I want to know they are in it for the long haul and thought about the problem deeply before speaking to investors.
How would you describe your own personal mission and values, and how do they impact the way you invest?
I am personally committed to building a more equitable and sustainable world, by broadening access to economic opportunity and entrepreneurship, improving the lives of low income individuals, and promoting environmental sustainability. I try to invest my time and energy in founders that share these values, and businesses that address these systemic challenges.
What do you like best about investing in NYC, and what’s your outlook on the future of NYC tech?
I love living, working, and investing in New York city because of the diversity of people and ideas. In addition to tech, New York is a center for art, fashion, media, finance and it is the mixing of these disciplines the gives the city a creative energy that I haven't seen anywhere else. Plus we all ride the subway together.