A little over a year ago, I joined First Round Capital as an EIR -- with the goal of helping First Round root deeper into the community here after having already done almost a dozen deals, mostly out of their Philly office. Since that time, I’ve seen the whole firm mobilize in an effort to better support the NYC innovation community. We’ve gone from just having Howard’s office at Partsearch, with Chris parking himself at Niles close to Penn Station, with Phin living on Amtrak and Josh squeezing pitches in between board meetings, to a real office right in Union Square—in my opinion one of the best in the city. I love being able to see the Green Market from my window and the bountiful bicycle parking in front of 200 Park Ave South.
But it’s not just about having a physical office—it’s about who you have in there and your relationship and participation in the community. Lots of firms have offices—that doesn’t mean they’re really in the middle of the community. It wasn’t long before the First Round team was out walking the walk and talking the talk in our NYC Incubator Crawl, and backing it up with their work and time spent here. Chris Fralic is now based out of NYC. Phin Barnes is moving to New York from Philly. Howard spends even more time here, I think. I’m still doing the math, because if you add up the hours of meetings he takes, I come out to more than 24 hours of meetings a day across multiple cities, plus a few phonecalls—so he’s a little tough to keep track of. We’re thinking of tagging him in some kind of catch and release strategy.
First Round’s efforts here are personally exciting for me, because I wanted to be able to work in early stage venture, not just in New York, but as part of a great team. When I was job searching last year, it was really important for me to be able to sit across the table from an entrepreneur and tell them that the firm I was at was a good place to take money from. I couldn’t have wound up in a better place in that regard—so I’m pretty psyched to announce my promotion to Principal.
In a way, not a lot is going to change. I’ll still be working primarily on doing new deals and trying to add value to the ones we’ve already done across the portfolio. I’ll be supporting partners on boards and sitting on a few myself. That’s another reason why I value a team. I’m early in my venture capital career and want to leverage the accumulated knowledge of all of the people around me. It was extremely beneficial for me to be able to work closely with Josh when I joined the Backupify board earlier this year. There’s a lot I have yet to learn about being a productive and value-added investor and so it’s really great to have so much experience around me on this team.
What I’m also excited about is having some public clarity about what I’m doing. I didn’t think it would be a big issue to start out with, but it was sometimes the case as an EIR where people didn’t know if they were “officially” pitching to First Round when they met me. I’d sometimes get people asking me to introduce them to First Round—that was interesting. Now, rest assured that when you’re chatting with me, you’re in process with the team here. It’s really not about the title, it’s more just the Principal of the thing.