Ben Lerer is a Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau and the CEO of Group Nine Media, a digital media holding company consisting of Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker, and PopSugar. He is the cofounder and former CEO of Thrillist. He chairs the Board of Directors for Urban Upbound and is an Associate Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences (IADAS). Ben sits on the Board of Directors for Casper and the Board of RaisedByUs. Ben leads the Lerer Hippeau team in total pairs of Allbirds, with no fewer than eight.
I started as an operator and founded a company that was venture-backed at a time in New York when there were not a lot of VC-backed companies or many venture investors. We realized my friends and peers were being drawn to entrepreneurship and because I was an operator, I was part of the budding ecosystem. In addition to being an operator, I wanted to invest in my peers as well. This led to us raising our first $8M fund in 2010.
It’s a cliche but it’s generally about the people. Gut plays a role at the early stage more than later stages. There’s also the market & category and the results & progress to date. There’s a balance of the 3 with the largest emphasis being on the founder(s).
Leave it to the founder to make decisions and follow their lead. It’s my job to serve as a sounding board to help founders make the right decisions for themselves; it is not my role to make decisions for companies. At Lerer Hippeau, we also have a Platform team dedicated to helping our companies through post-investment support and services. I’ve worked well with founders who are transparent and passionate.
Be transparent about your progress and passionate about what you’re building.
Life is short and I want to work with people who I trust and who bring real soul to the things that they work on. I am very long term focused in terms of betting on people. If a specific idea or company doesn’t work out, that’s okay, as long as people have integrity and work hard and smart.
I grew up in NYC and I’m a huge believer in New York’s ability to be the best at anything it sets its mind to. I think it’s pretty clear that NYC has set its mind to being the best place for entrepreneurs to build businesses.