I am regularly reminded of a graph that CB Insights made a few years ago. There is no correlation between a venture investor’s background and their success as an investor. The outlier, most successful, ‘midas’ investors are roughly split between financiers and operators. Some would pit them against one another, and I still hear every other day that one has the edge over another. But the data doesn’t lie, you need both.
Venture, Growth and Private Equity have evolved a lot since I started out my executive search career working with funds. Countless investors have turned their hand at starting companies, and successful founders have started new funds. More US funds have moved to Europe, but it’s no longer a handful and it’s as heterogenous as ever.
So why would a firm who have spent 20 years working with operators, turn to working to help build funds themselves? The truth is these groups are as amorphous as ever. Funds have built out their investor and operator teams with folks from start-ups, new funds have ‘started-up’ from scratch and focused on building diverse, broad partnerships. The volume of calls asking us to help has increased significantly over the past few years and this has become a core pillar of what we do, and an important piece of value we can bring to the ecosystem.
For my part, I spent the first years of my career solely focused on funds. As I broadened out to start-ups in the second half of my career and spent time at a fund, the nuance of the investor role came into sharper focus and the impact that funds have on the success or failure of their portfolio companies. I am drawn to how these decisions are made. During my time at a fund, we spent many hours thinking about the way to construct our team, knowing that each person with their own biases and style would influence the overall culture and the thesis of the fund. Each investor role is the key to finding or missing ‘the big deal’; each operating partner is an influential shepherd on the company’s journey. Each and every seat counts, and that’s the environment that search is made for. These people need to be outliers.
High growth technology and technology enabled companies are in our blood at Erevena, as they also are for Venture Capital funds. As they become an increasingly important part of the focus for Growth funds and Private Equity funds, we are uniquely positioned to help find the people that are needed by funds to lead investments as Partners and Partners in training; folks who can lead Talent, Corporate Finance, Business Development and other strategic pillars, and those who have turned from operators to Operating Partners and Venture Partners.
If you’re thinking about how to grow your platform let’s chat. You can find me here.