Ben is a co-founder and General Partner at Primary Venture Partners. He has been a serial entrepreneur and investor as a co-founder of LaunchTime an incubator and investor in early stage tech startups and as a co-founder of Community Connect which was one of the first social networking companies.
Ben focuses his investing activities on primarily consumer-facing companies. His previous investments include Coupang, Jet.com, MakeSpace, Ollie, Mirror, Slice, Bounce Exchange, Selfmade, Shoptalk and Penrose Hill. Ben has been active in the NYC tech community for almost 20 years. Prior to working as an entrepreneur and investor, Ben worked at Merrill Lynch in the Technology Investment Banking Group. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Economics.
I was a founder of a NYC company, Community Connect Inc., and ran it as CEO until we sold it after 12 years. I then started investing and helping founders start companies with my own capital. Fortunately, I was involved in great companies such as Coupang, Jet.com and Noom. I realized I wanted to build an early stage venture firm that I wished I had when I was a founder; one that offers much more operating resources especially in the early phases. And I wanted to focus on NYC because we saw the startup community begin to explode. So, I co-founded Primary with my partner, Brad Svrluga, and we began investing in NYC pre-seed and seed deals starting in 2015 out of our first fund. We are now investing out of our third fund and are very proud about the team and the support we bring to our companies.
We know at the end of the day, the biggest factor to determine success in an investment is the team. Ultimately, we ask the question: Would you bet against them? We look for those founders that we believe have the attributes to get through huge challenges are looking to build category defining businesses. Some of those key traits include grit and determination, ability to attract and recruit great talent and ability to raise capital.
Having been a founder, I know the startup journey is really hard and feels very lonely. I try to build trust and help founders think about their strategy. Not only where you want to be long term but what should be prioritized in the near term. I have found that the best investors help their founders with having laser focus on what matters most. Creating alignment allows you to be a trusted partner to founders and allows you to have much more of an impact in how you help.
Be open to feedback. Sometimes when founders pitch, they come in with a mindset of only pushing their point of view. The investor-founder relationship is hopefully based on collaboration and partnership that will happen over a many year journey. Use that time to begin that relationship and begin evaluating if that relationship is the right fit.
As a cofounder at Primary, I helped put in place our Core Values which reflect my own values. Those values are:
Commit to doing the work and tackling the most impactful issues.
Work with the Best
Expect nothing short of excellence and a hunger to win from colleagues, founders and operators.
Challenge the Status Quo
Think creatively and embrace unconventional solutions.
Build a "We" Firm
Share expertise and meaningfully collaborate as a team to provide top-notch support
I truly value working hard and tackling challenging issues with great founders. And I love this business and sector because you get to get to approach solutions in unconventional ways to brings innovation. And to do this work with a team of people I trust respect and enjoy working with everyday.
NYC has always been a magnet for great talent. That amazing talent comes from all different sectors and backgrounds and what I love about NYC tech is the diversity of the type of great companies that are being formed each day. And the amazing thing is that we are just at the beginnings. Success will breed success and I believe NYC's important will only grow for many years to come.