Operator Partners

Zach Goldstein


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Notable Investments
Questions & Answers

Origin Story: In a couple sentences, how would you describe your path to becoming an investor?

I started writing (tiny) angel checks during my time at Slice when I realized that much of what I learned and experienced while we grew could be helpful to younger startups. I then transitioned to investing full time and joined Union Square Ventures, where I was lucky and humbled to learn from some of the best in the industry. In March of 2020, I joined forces with a group of current and former entrepreneurs to start Operator Partners, a firm that draws on a unique mix of operating and investing experience to support founders through day-to-day challenges.

Investment Approach: What are the key factors you consider when evaluating a founding team?

I typically bucket my considerations into “the 4 T’s + Competitive Landscape” (I can’t remember who first phrased it like this but it stuck with me):  1/ team, 2/ technology, 3/ TAM (market), 4/ traction, and 5/ competitive landscape. What it really comes down to, though, is the unique insight; what has been learned — product or business model wise — and why is it interesting right now?

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?

VC is a services business so I try to be flexible and defer to the founders I work with; some expect daily communication while others prefer monthly. I work best with entrepreneurs who don’t treat our conversations like sales calls and hold me to the same standard I hold them.

If I'm coming to pitch to you, what's the one piece of advice you'd give me?

We’ve been on your side of the Zoom call. Focus less on selling us and more on getting across your unique insight; whether it’s business model innovation, technology, or market, help us understand what you’ve figured out and why you’re the right person & team to solve this problem.

How would you describe your own personal mission and values, and how do they impact the way you invest?

Doing well is important but so is doing good. I tend to look for entrepreneurs who are focused on more than just creating enterprise value and expanding markets — investing in a company is more than financially backing the entrepreneurs, it’s believing in the mission and working to create a world we want to live in.

What do you like best about investing in NYC, and what’s your outlook on the future of NYC tech?

While NYC is an established city, the tech ecosystem is still tight, dynamic, and growing. New unicorns are emerging, investment firms forming, and anecdotally the younger members of job force entrants seem eager to explore NYC start-ups more than ever before. I’m extremely optimistic about the future of NYC tech and am excited to be a part of it.