In today’s world, everything is connected—and now you are, too. Our team is a constellation, full of founders and operators, strategic advisors, supply chain partners, leaders, mentors, and innovators in a network that spans every part of the business ecosystem.
Telescope in one eye, microscope in the other.
I’m obsessed with journeys alongside good human beings. Of all the things we’ve done and achieved, that’s been the best part of this entire process, for me.
After Courtney and I sold VeeV, we closed the chapter on what had been an 8 or 9 year journey—but we wanted to make sure that experience informed what we committed ourselves to next.
M13 came out of two major motivations. The first one was pretty simple—intellectual curiosity. We wanted to be around the smartest people doing innovative things every day.
The second reason is that we wanted to give back—and we wanted to do it in a scalable way. Along the road of building VeeV, there were so many people who helped us and believed in us, but there were also so many things we needed to learn from scratch when really, they were repeatable processes, things we could have flown through if we’d had the right tools.
Sometimes, the small things are the big things. One text, one deal. No single decision truly moves the needle, but enough decisions, over enough time, compound to create a massive impact, starting the flywheel.
That’s what we’re here for. When you’re an entrepreneur, your to-do list is always going to be greater than your resources, and there are always going to be areas where you have blind spots, where you need more guidance. But when you have resources like our Propulsion team—with productized knowledge and a dedicated operating team—in your corner, that entire equation starts to look different.
We’re always challenging ourselves to think about how we can help entrepreneurs make better decisions, make fewer mistakes, and do it faster. Because speed is one of the biggest differentiators in today’s world—you have to win, but you also have to do it quickly.
Why should every entrepreneur have to learn how to prepare for their first board meeting? It’s pretty simple. Here are some tools, here’s what the deck should look like, here are some best practices. By stepping in to help with these repeatable processes, we allow them to focus on the things that are unique to their business—their product, their customer experience—because doing those things better than anyone else is what’ll really set them apart.
Telescope in one eye, microscope in the other. There’s no substitution for being in the trenches and getting things done. But on the flipside, it’s also critical to make sure you’re picking your head up and looking at the bigger picture—otherwise, you’re just waiting to get left behind.
Gratitude journaling, foraging the farmer’s market… I value anything that reminds me to make time for appreciation every now and then.
While there’s a total democratization of ideas, there’s not yet a democratization of execution, resources, and access to capital. That’s what we’re aiming to foster with all the arms of our venture engine, but especially with our Launchpad. By creating an infrastructure that empowers more kinds of people to take the leap and pursue their ideas, we’re working to level the playing field.
You need to be best in class in some aspect for your business to stand apart
When Carter and I were starting M13, we knew the world didn’t need just another venture capital firm—and frankly the idea of building one wasn’t that interesting to us either. Starting a platform, with an approach that’s designed to evolve venture capital? That’s really exciting. We have to walk the walk, but the opportunity to have a different value prop for our companies and for the people joining our platform is something that energizes me every day.
Working with my brother has been one of the most rewarding parts of M13, and it’s all about trust. On top of that, we both motivate each other to be better and do bigger things. It’s usually unspoken, but I definitely don’t take that for granted.
One transformative experience, for me, was discovering that although we’d built VeeV into a successful brand, there wasn’t a lot of interest from buyers right away. It was a great reminder that a successful company doesn’t necessarily mean a successful exit—it’s more complicated than that.
It wasn’t until the last three or four years of VeeV that I realized investing in industry relationships and being able to efficiently connect the dots was just as important as building a stand-out product. It was actually this process of “leaving breadcrumbs”—going to industry conferences, listening to others’ impressions of VeeV, and making the time to connect—that led to our acquisition, in the end.
It’s so easy to get stuck in the day-to-day, even the hour-to-hour. But one of the biggest things we’re focused on prioritizing is picking our heads up, looking at the big picture, then sharing those insights with our partner companies. When you’re able to connect the dots—and to do it much more efficiently—that translates into better, faster decisions for your business. And at the end of the day, it’s that accumulation of small differences, saved hours, and 1% betters that compound to create massive impact.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is “(once you’ve been lucky enough to make some money) prioritize your time over your money…time is the one thing we all have in common.”
In this new, bespoke world, you need to be best in class at something for your business to stand apart. Sure, you may need good accounting, but it’s not what drives the bus. So the way we see it is, if there’s a way to outsource that, to put it on set-and-repeat and focus on what you do differently or best, that’s where the opportunity lies to create real value for your business—and that’s exactly what we created our platform of productized knowledge to do.
To me, the most exceptional founders won’t be denied, yet are also aware of the gaps in their skills or knowledge.
Simplify first, don’t add. We live in this world where everyone is trying to do more things and add more things to their plate. Nobody is really asking themselves “how can I subtract one thing and try to do what’s on the plate better?” We need more pruning!
Build what you love, and don’t focus on the money.
I’m inspired every day by the creativity and boldness of strong founders. Seeing founders achieve the impossible, simply because they don’t live within traditional limits, always excites and inspires me.
After exiting China Export Finance, I took 3 years and focused on working with a portfolio of young technology companies to help them along the journey to build their businesses. During that time, I was exposed to both inspiring talent and a wide set of challenges that really opened my eyes—to the unique nature of every business, yes, but also to the problems and solutions they often had in common.
Working with these founders not only grounded me as a mentor, but also provided me with countless insights and significant growth that prepared me for my tenure at Digital Ocean, where I was able to leverage my 20 years of experience and build the company from the ground up—ultimately reaching 500+ employees and over $200M in revenue. I’m thrilled to be able to share this playbook of knowledge and experience with M13’s partner entrepreneurs, across every stage of growth.
Here at M13, our portfolio companies have the unique advantage of a deep, experienced bench, ready to actively support their needs and provide executive-level capabilities in areas where their own resources might be limited. We look to help these companies navigate key strategic planning moments and hurdles specifically oriented around growth, aiming to help them rise above the fold and win in their category.
I truly believe that success is a team mission. M13’s commitment to community allows us to be effective investors and mentors, but also provides an opportunity for founders to gain incredible value from the talent and resources that surround them.
I learned the true value of community in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. China Export Finance—a fintech business underwritten by AIG and backed by a syndicate of global banks—was on the precipice of disaster for nearly 6 months as the market was dealing with the fallout. The unwavering commitment and support of a strong board and dedicated team was the key to success through tough market conditions. We survived the crunch and still grew in 2009 by 60%+ to $137M in revenue.
The best advice I’ve gotten in my career is “build what you love” and “don’t focus on the money.” Beyond that, remember to ask for help, and to show appreciation wherever it’s earned.
Engineers are poets who speak math.
An essential part of building purposeful new technology is sharing the journey. Working with Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company, Virgin Orbit, and Kitty Hawk’s EVTOL solutions taught me the importance of building goodwill by sharing your progress, especially for technology that we haven’t yet seen or tried. True leaders have the courage to help us see what we can’t yet even imagine. Failure leads to both learning and progress, and kindness is an underrated leadership trait. I enjoy helping founding teams share their stories — and convey their optimism and questions about the future.
I once told Dan Rather that the engineers I worked with are poets who speak math. (He liked that.) Collective progress happens when our command of the technical is inspired by our humanity. EVTOL has the potential to make more room in our built environment for human work and play. Space access for civilians will continue to improve life on Earth. I’m also a believer in the power of culture to break taboos such as enabling cannabis regulation and adult access. M13 is the chance to collaborate with diverse changemakers shaping how we live today—and how our children will thrive tomorrow.
In college, I joined Teach For America and became a founding member of a generation-defining social movement. We were social entrepreneurs before the phrase existed. The greatest privilege is working alongside people with an intentional vision that expands access and transforms lives. I learned so much from the last dozen years with Sir Richard Branson and Virgin company founders in launching Virgin brands in North America across entrenched industries. When you choose to be the customer champion, as Virgin did, business decisions are at once intuitive, challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.
Brighter Together can’t happen without community. The sparks of diverse perspectives and shared experiences move us forward. It takes convening power to gather creative and curious solution-oriented makers, and M13 applies that in dynamic ways — in LA, NYC and beyond. I’m excited to connect with more people and make magic happen for our founding teams.
Chemistry and attitude are everything. At M13, everyone works hard, has fun and looks after each other. As we say at KIPP: Work hard, be nice.
The best marketing strategies and ideas come from diverse opinions and experiences.
Great brands require even an even greater pool of talent, and I am privileged to have worked with so many innovative entrepreneurs, marketers, and technologists throughout my career as an operator and venture capitalist. I’m passionate about the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology, and am honored to have held CXO titles at some incredible companies, including Gilt Groupe and GOAT.
One of the best things about LA is its strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. We’re in this moment in time where we have more graduates with engineering degrees than any other area of the United States per capita. We have this influx of fantastic tech talent coupled with a proliferation of venture growth, which has resulted in a robust community that’s able to support the ideas that are forming every day in our ecosystem. It’s a great time for the LA venture community to broaden and diversify.
My passion for entrepreneurship and marketing has centered my operating career in launching and developing successful consumer brands. I love helping founders figure out how to create meaningful relationships with their customers through innovative go-to-market strategies. Founders can also look to me for help with growth marketing, brand positioning, or generally how to scale their operations from day one. These decisions have the power to help expose consumers to brands they haven’t known before, and I’m passionate about leveraging this expertise to help build and scale the next generation of household names.
As Head of Operations at M13, I help bring together our partners’ prowess and create codified systems to propel our founders’ businesses forward. I work with our leadership team to provide the resources and create the frameworks for our founding teams to achieve the goals they’re setting as a company. I also lead our Launchpad program, our in-house venture studio that develops the right people, products, and practices to launch an idea from inception. This program allows us to build scalable companies that have an impact on consumers’ lives while bringing a heightened level of accessibility to entrepreneurship. We’re really excited about our first partnership with P&G Ventures and look forward to expanding the program so we can bring more products that are really transforming consumer behavior to market.
I’m passionate about the work we’re doing to empower female entrepreneurs, leaders and women in venture. We have so many brilliant women in M13’s ecosystem, and I’m excited to be part of the alchemy that happens when talented women create, operate, build and define this generation of female-founded companies.
What M13 brings to the table is empathy. Because each of the partners have entrepreneurial experience, we understand what our founding teams are going through — the late nights, the problem-solving, the never-ending to-do lists. We’ve been there before and we know how to best help them move forward. I’m excited to help our founders overcome complex obstacles while building impactful, successful brands along the way.
Humility, in all situations.
I spent 8 years working for Sir Richard Branson, and during this time frame I developed a clear understanding of how a single brand and visionary was able to scale 8 companies in disparate industries and geographies to a billion dollars or more of enterprise value.
Specifically, Virgin’s fearless approach at entering markets is driven by its singular focus on creating a sustainable value proposition to the consumer, always enhanced by elegant technology, creative marketing strategies and the power of brand.
I learned that these frameworks apply to the world outside of Virgin and the lessons I learned working on Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and Virgin Hotels served me well when I led our investments in Ring, Slack and Capsule. I have brought these same lessons with me to M13, and it’s exciting to find entrepreneurs who are attacking markets with the same perspective.
I love meeting founders and understanding their motivations. The odds are stacked against each and every one of them—yet they move forward with such enthusiasm and determination. I’m honored to be able to play a small part in their journey to build something impactful.
I’ve been lucky to experience some really high highs in my career, including witnessing the VSS Unity (the Virgin Galactic Spaceship) reach space for the first time—after 14 years of investment—and sitting on the board of Ring from Series B in July 2015 through its exit to Amazon in Q1 2018.
It’s easy to have a level of arrogance in VC—and you see it in abundance—but that’s not how you win in the long term. Reputation is all you have.
By acting with humility we can establish trust and authentic relationships with entrepreneurs and our limited partners. And at the end of the day, those are the only parties that matter.
If you’re not adapting a growth mindset and always looking to learn and improve, you’re likely to be outpaced quickly.
In a marketplace where products and technology are becoming more and more commoditized, Talent is often the key differentiator. It’s fantastic to see how more and more companies are realizing that, and I’m incredibly passionate about helping entrepreneurs use Talent to their advantage in order to build sustainable companies that execute well and win.
I think many leaders discount culture, saying that it’s something that either “just happens” or is secondary to other areas of the business. The best companies bring the same level of thought and intention to developing their people as they do toward developing their products. Maybe more so if they are really smart.
The truth is that building a healthy culture is one of the best and most impactful ways to drive sustained high performance in a business, and it in fact helps accelerate the speed of growth, especially in early stage companies. Creating a culture of trust, empowerment, and psychological safety is essential to ensuring a resilient foundation for a high-growth organization. Strong cultures help ensure that everyone knows what they need to do to succeed. They help teams move more quickly and with more agility, and seed the conditions for innovation and success.
I’ve seen first-hand the way companies with amazing product-market fit can crater because of toxic cultures, and I’ve also seen how a powerful and unified culture can help business last through downturns that would have killed less resilient organizations.
I’ve been lucky enough to work for some of the most innovative and progressive organizations around. Working under a visionary CEO and board at Return Path helped me understand how vital strong culture is to creating successful organizations. At DigitalOcean, I got to partner with world class operators and lead an astonishingly talented People Team as we helped scale a rocketship that grew almost 700% in size over four years, all while achieving both significant revenue growth and industry-leading organizational engagement.
There’s no secret to balancing high growth and high engagement! One of the biggest drivers of engagement is feeling like you’re part of a successful mission. And when your business is growing quickly, that inherently comes with greater opportunities for your employees to grow as well. Smart teams lean into those opportunities by giving their people meaningful developmental experiences, as well as by using a growth mindset and a culture of continuous improvement as a competitive advantage when attracting and retaining talent.
When teams get regular, open, and candid feedback at the rapid pace of growth, it can be totally transformative. At DigitalOcean, we were fortunate enough to have our agile HR processes recognized by Harvard Business Review. We had applied best Agile practices and methods from Engineering and transformed them to the People space, recognizing that growth is continuous, ongoing, and iterative. By using methods of real-time feedback and performance development, we were able to unlock new levels of potential and performance in our teams.
The number one trait I look for when helping to select leaders for our Launchpad or portfolio companies is intellectual curiosity and humility. Even the most successful founders know there’s always an opportunity to learn, and there’s always an opportunity to get better and raise the bar for themselves. It’s precisely that belief what helps the best founders break barriers and do things that others thought impossible.
If you’re not adapting a growth mindset and always looking to learn and improve, you’re very likely to become outpaced by the competition quickly.
One of the key differences about M13 is how deeply and authentically we invest our time with founders, and honestly for me that’s the most fun part of this job. Whether it’s helping a founder think differently about the way they’re approaching an executive search, understanding how to operationalize their culture at scale, or building best practices around retention, talent development or compensation, it’s been amazing to see how impactful we can be.
Anyone can tell you why something isn’t going to work. It’s our job to figure out why something just might.
The most transformative experience in my career was driven completely by luck. At the age of 18—as an undergrad student—I met a partner at General Catalyst and parlayed that meeting into an internship and then into a full time role where I saw the firm grow from $600m of capital to over $3B. It was my first experience with technology, and totally changed the course of my career—which later included opening their west coast office and going on to found my own company, NatureBox.
When I decided to join M13, my experiences at NatureBox were at the forefront of my mind. As a founder, you’re pitching all the time. You talk to VC, after VC, after VC, and no one will straight up tell you “no.”
There’s this culture of lip service that can really grind you down as a founder. If you aren’t getting feedback, how can you grow?
At M13, we’re trying to change that paradigm and bring transparency back to the process. Entrepreneurs deserve it, and it’s rewarding to be able to deliver on that promise—whether it’s in the form of two-way feedback to help us work better together, or just a simple, “it won’t work for us right now, and here’s why.”
For me, the most exceptional founders are Missionaries rather than Mercenaries—opportunity obsessed.
“You’re down but you’re not out.” I remember one of my advisors saying this to me and it’s stuck with me ever since. At the time, my company had nearly run out of cash, our existing investors refused to fund the company further, our creditor put the company in default and we had millions of dollars of accounts payable that needed to be paid. Adding to that, I was about to get married. It was the most stressful time in my life but as it turns out, I was down, but I wasn’t out. We learned how to operate the business on the cash we had and we saved the company. I learned just how resilient people and companies are.
Don’t panic. That’s the most important thing I learned as a founder, and it applies to investors, too. So many people get spooked at the first sign of trouble. I think that sets us apart at M13. Since so many of us have been a part of starting businesses, we’ve got the nerve to support you through the downs, not just the ups.
A good VC partner is someone who’s checked in, no matter what. When you’re down, they’re your company’s biggest cheerleader, in the trenches with you. And when you’re up, they’re the cautious optimist. It’s easy to wear the rose-colored glasses, but what you really need is someone to say, “yeah, things are going well, but have you thought about this?”
I love the drive, hustle, and ambition of entrepreneurs of all kinds. It doesn’t matter if you own an ice cream truck or are building the next Amazon, that drive is contagious. That’s one of the reasons I spend my free time mentoring entrepreneurs and serving on the board of my alma mater, Babson College.
Growth companies need a culture of learning, the directive to test, and a willingness to fail.
I’ve always gravitated toward opportunities to work with teams who are looking at data for the first time — not always startups. During my time at Crossix, I sat down with consumer marketing teams at Pfizer, Sanofi and Amgen to understand insights generated by a new data set they had been operating without for decades. With advances in data privacy technology, Crossix offered them the ability to link their marketing efforts to actual behavior at the pharmacy, at the patient level. Overnight, these seasoned marketers were able to precisely measure the efficacy of various acquisition and retention tactics, in near real-time, enabling quantitatively-driven optimization decisions. For these century-old corporate giants, this technology drove a dramatic (and sometimes contentious) shift toward a culture of fast and frequent decision-making, supported by a mathematically rigorous test-and-learn philosophy.
When I came to DigitalOcean, the company was growing so quickly and generating so much data, that it was both a challenge and a necessity to focus on only the actionable data that mattered. Data paralysis is a growth company’s worst enemy — time is almost always against you, and it’s far too easy to feel like you have “too much data.” When you decide to “dive in,” it’s imperative to have a compass directing you to a narrow subset of data. More importantly, you must force yourself to lead with action-oriented analysis rather than curiosity-driven calculations. “If I find the answer to my question, what will it allow me to do differently?”
In the era of “big data,” Excel remains indispensable. Decision-makers in new businesses can easily over-complicate the way they think about using data. Being data-driven doesn’t necessitate having a PhD on your staff to programmatically mine your data lake for insights. Many highly impactful “data-driven decisions” have been made using data that can fit in Excel and math that can be done on the back of a napkin. Where winners shine is in acknowledging that their “lake” of incomplete and imperfect data can be used to directionally guide their decisions — these teams prioritize decision-making velocity over academic precision, and in so doing gain a huge advantage over the competition.
Trust (your gut), but verify. As a founder or growth company leader, operate first with your gut and let data directionally guide your decisions when you reach a fork in the road. Acknowledge that there are some decisions that simply cannot be made with quantitative support, either because there is no available data, or because the decision is impractically difficult or impossible to measure. Move with high velocity, and use data where you can to continually verify your assumptions and to evaluate your overall progress.
“I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Growth companies need a culture of learning, the directive to test, and a willingness to fail. When you prioritize actions and hypothesis testing, every outcome is a gift and insight into either something to do more of or something to do less of. Both are valuable insights that allow you to re-assess, re-prioritize, and move forward.
Step #1: Collect and store. Before you even know what you may need the data for, find ways to allow your customers (or potential customers) to volunteer information. Ask them questions, and ask them about their needs, intents, and demographics. Track observable data like website behavior, product interactions, and transactions in a way that is attributable to a single customer. Get in the weeds and stitch together a customer’s story across datasets, so that you understand where there may be gaps in information. Start storing all of this data now, and then when you have questions to answer, you likely won’t need to wait as long (or at all) to generate enough of a sample to give you the insight you need to move forward.
People are looking for meaning in their work, more than just a paycheck.
I’ve held most startup roles at some point in my career. My progression may seem eclectic (from software engineering, to network engineering, to sales engineering, to marketing, to product, to VC [during business school], to startup operations exec, to startup finance exec, to private equity finance—whew) but it’s given me invaluable insight into the many (many) distinct worlds that come together to help a business succeed.
This varied background was one of the things that drew me to M13 initially—having the chance to work with a team of others who, like me, have built up a cache of operating know-how. Maybe we haven’t seen it all before, but we’ve seen more than most, and I think it makes us uniquely suited to advocate relentlessly for your company.
Working with Akamai and its customers through the early boom / bust stages of the dot com era was transformative for me—and deeply reinforced the importance of sound financial management and agile operations for startups. It’s one of the reasons that I’m passionate about helping young companies lay the proper financial and operating foundation for rapid growth.
The dot com downturn wasn’t the only trial we faced during my time at Akamai. Our darkest hour came after our Founder, Danny Lewin, was killed in 9/11. Watching the grace and compassion of George Conrades as he led our team through that hardship has affected me to this day.
9/11 infused Akamai with a sense of purpose. Persevering through the hardship of the dot com downturn after September 11 showed how galvanizing a shared mission can be, and how much people are looking for meaning in their work, more than just a paycheck.
The best entrepreneurs have an infectious enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge about solvable world problems. So as a VC working with entrepreneurs, you get both motivated and educated each and every day. What a gift!.
My best advice? Learn and use the keyboard shortcuts!
Instead of wondering how something could fail, wonder how it could succeed.
As the most tenured employee at M13, I’ve had a front row seat for the firm’s growth. It’s been incredibly exciting and rewarding to be a part of shaping culture and translating our mission to do venture differently into action.
Being part of a really young company is a massive responsibility—who you are in the early days means so much for who you become—but it’s also a massive opportunity to change the conversation. That goes for every aspect of what we do, from how we communicate with potential partners to the culture we create within our own walls.
The venture community has an opportunity—and to an extent, a responsibility—to support founders that incorporate elements of sustainability into their mission. You don’t have to be a cleantech-only investor to do that.
Instead of wondering how something could fail, wonder how it could succeed.
The best ideas may sound counterintuitive or even wrong at first (who would allow a stranger to use your spare bedroom?), but it’s important to hear them out. I’ve been fortunate at M13 to be surrounded by people who think and act differently than I do, which provides a far better lens for evaluating these counterintuitive ideas.
At M13, the opportunity is even greater, because we focus on investments at the forefront of consumer technology and emerging trends. That means my job is about more than solely evaluating opportunities that might make for an attractive investment—it’s about seeing the emerging products and services that could become the next household names. It’s about suspending your disbelief and imagining a world that doesn’t exist yet. I consider that role, frankly, to be an honor.
I learned the hustle of an entrepreneur firsthand, because my mom and sister are both artists. Watching them work has taught me so many lessons about business and the experience of working for yourself, but also showed me how to bring creativity to my work.
Your successes are our successes, and your failures are our failures.
I joined M13 in the very early days. The team had this ambition to build a different type of platform—one that better matched the partnership style that entrepreneurs needed in today’s fast-changing startup environment—but what was even more inspiring to me was the team’s diversity of experience and drive to make it happen.
We all came from backgrounds where we had to prove ourselves. And now, we had the chance to use these experiences to dig into all sides of an issue with a first-hand perspective.
And dig in, we did. We set out to make each part of the venture experience better. Finding entrepreneurs. Proactive involvement after investing. Communicating with our LPs. Everything.
Then, instead of retrofitting an existing practice to match today’s new investing environment, we built one from the ground up. Now, I’m excited to help execute on that vision (also known as “the fun part”).
M13 was built around the goal of being a trusted partner. Not just someone you call on once a quarter for a board meeting, or someone who simply makes one introduction to a supplier, but rather a real partner who teams up with you—your successes are our successes, and your failures are our failures.
We’ll know we’ve done our jobs when our founding partners not only have successful exits, but choose us for their second venture. Their third. It’s way bigger than the “right now” for us.
I truly love working with entrepreneurs. It takes way more guts than I have to leave your stable job to build something you love, and it’s a privilege to be able to play even a small part in helping them reach their full potential.
I’m very fortunate to have assembled a diverse background in corporate M&A and venture. My previous roles have helped me develop the financial acumen and training needed to execute large and complicated transactions, but they’ve also given me the opportunity to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs and get to know their unique perspectives.
When you take some time to focus on others, it adds invaluable perspective. Making service a priority can make a massive difference for the way you view others, your work, and yourself.
My best advice? No job title or company name on a resume can beat being happy with what you do.
Be entrepreneurial. Be strategic. Be mission-aligned.
A rising tide lifts all boats. I don’t know of a single job that isn’t informed and made better by the hard work and contributions of many other colleagues and partners. Building a durable investment firm requires the variety of voices and perspectives of a dedicated group of great employees, teams who create honest, authentic partnerships with their founding teams and other sponsors and the mutual trust and respect of like-minded investors who are aligned together over the long-term. Jim Collins’ Flywheel effect describes the accumulation of a series of actions, each building on each other to create something truly generative. That’s why we’re focused on the constellation of M13’s shareholders and stakeholders – and why my focus is particularly on making sure our investors know how critical their financial and human capital is to making this firm a success. Investor Relations serves a lighthouse role in a firm. I want all of M13’s stakeholders, and our investors in particular, to see the virtuous circle of our partnership.
Everyone is looking to mitigate the downside and create repeatable, sustainable successes. The best firms I know are those that are thoughtful about their purpose in the world, have a differentiated thesis that fulfills a real need and that think about risk and responsibility as well as returns. I was attracted to M13’s Propulsion Platform model of best-in-class, vertically-focused operators partnering with founding teams in part because I am very familiar with the model in later stage private equity. It’s an even more brilliant thing in the venture capital space to be able to help build better companies from the early stages and both accelerate growth by providing unparalleled expertise tailored to each business and mitigate risk to build enduring companies.
You are going to make an impact on this world. Do good, and you’ll do well. My maternal grandparents had five children, 27 foster children and logged over 10,000 hours each at Greenwich Hospital but also gave their time to soup kitchens and daily wherever they knew someone needed help. They didn’t want recognition and didn’t expect others to give in the same way, but they did expect and hope that their children would adopt the same charitable mindset: guide and encourage compassion through daily actions by treating others profitably, by which they meant valuably. Six years ago, I co-founded an organization focused on bringing the best understanding and integration of environmental, social and governance practices to the investment industry not just because I am a dyed in the wool recycler and care about treating people fairly and leaving the world “a little better,” but also because innumerable research reports demonstrate that companies focused on good stewardship create outsized financial returns. We have the ability to create exponentially good effects for ourselves and others by practicing and doing the right things.
Be compassionate. Be curious. Be brave. I say that being brave is being afraid but doing something anyway (so long as what you’re doing isn’t illegal or hurting anyone else). But, evidently, fear and curiosity can’t inhabit the brain simultaneously. So, I’ve co-piloted small planes, including across the Berkshires during a bout of claustrophobia, climbed 100 ft. down into the belly of the underground Djoser pyramid burial chamber outside of Cairo and hiked an unrepaired part of the Great Wall on a rainy day alone with no one else around. Cultivating a rigorous spirit doesn’t require leaving where you are, but it does need a heavy dose of inquisitiveness about the rich world around us and the ability to stretch beyond our own comfort zones.
Be a good citizen in this world. Thinking consciously about your actions and their impact on those around you and adjusting your thoughts and behaviors accordingly results in the funny side-effect of having profoundly good implications for your life. Every person is an investment in this world, and that means we all have a responsibility to check in and re-evaluate whether we’re contributing a positive or negative impact in the world. I’m thrilled that M13 has brought together such a fantastic group of people driven to make a positive and lasting impact on each other and everyone in the M13 constellation as we help build the next generation of great businesses.
Ten years ago, a colleague handed me a private equity manager’s letter that led with Robert Frost’s adage: “The best way out is always through.” It struck me then as a quiet, strong mantra that was probably the collective chorus of every struggling worker on Wall Street and, given the catholic recession, everyone beyond. It’s also the only direction through life.
Prioritize building a team with diverse perspectives.
I love connecting people to jobs that empower them. The result? Businesses and employees that achieve their greatest potential. As the first recruiter at Zume, I helped build the function from the ground up. Leading the executive recruiting team, we scaled from 150 to 650 in a year. This was a transformative time as I was able to set the bar for attracting and hiring talent and enable the business to achieve its goals by onboarding critical leaders.
I believe that getting the right talent in the correct roles is one of the most critical parts of building a business. I’ve seen the repercussions of making a bad hire, and that cost can be exponentially early in an organization’s inspection. There is extraordinary value in implementing tools and processes to assess, select, and hire leaders across the organization.
I joined M13 to help both the firm and our portfolio companies build the mechanisms to hire and retain amazing talent. I am passionate about building scalable, effective data-driven hiring processes. Having advised clients spanning from series A to Fortune 500 on talent strategy, HR organizational design, and technology infrastructure, I am uniquely equipped to empower teams to excel at hiring and retaining talent.
When building a team, great leaders surround themselves with diverse thoughts and experiences. There are a handful of key qualities that make exceptional leaders–– I believe The CEO Next Door said it well. “They are decisive. They are relentlessly reliable. They adapt boldly, and they engage with stakeholders without shying away from conflict.” Once you get the right leader the next most important decision is the team you build around them. What makes teams and companies successful is ensuring that there isn’t just one way of thinking. If there is, it is easy to miss opportunities and make major mistakes.
No one is successful alone.
Tim Draper once told me that “failure is essential to learning.” The failures I’ve experienced in my own entrepreneurial journey helped me reach great successes and evolve from entrepreneur to intraprenuer. Now, I get to watch others grow in their own knowledge, skill sets and expertise. Each setback is a learning point, and each breakthrough is a new milestone that extends past their businesses into their everyday lives.
I want to live in a world where there is equal opportunity across the board. Technology is a powerful thing, and I believe that by creating digital platforms and content that assist others in becoming the best versions of themselves, we’re working to build a kinder, more equitable future.
M13 understands the value of working as a team. By uniting a group of people with such incredible talent, they have uniquely positioned themselves to interact with the best of the best. I’m excited to be part of a company that brings world-class expertise to every opportunity and conversation.
Get in the habit of journaling. It brings clarity both to yourself and the complex business decisions you’ll face down the road. The most exceptional founders I’ve met are those who practice mindfulness, take feedback well, and iterate. Those are the things that set you up to win.
Don’t follow a recipe. Make your own.
Every year I like to check somewhere new off my travel bucket list. I’ve been lucky enough to visit some truly amazing places around the world, meeting wonderful people and eating incredible food along the way. For me, it’s the richness of the personal connections that inspires me and compels me to seek out as many cultures and natural majesties as possible.
Don’t follow a recipe, make it your own. I truly believe that everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table, no matter their experience or background. Wisdom comes from anyone, anywhere. This belief is integral to the M13 philosophy and lays the foundation for the dynamic and forward-thinking community that has evolved as a result.
I come from a very entrepreneurial family. My parents and brother are entrepreneurial business owners, so although I’ve never founded my own company, I’ve been surrounded and deeply inspired by their determination, enthusiasm, work ethic, and resourcefulness. I think those are the character traits of exceptional founders and exceptional companies, both of which can be found at M13.
I have always been a big team player. I’ve had the privilege of working with some great teams in my career and I’ve had amazing managers who’ve trusted me to try my hand at so many different finance and operational duties. As a result, I’ve developed well-rounded insights into a breadth of tasks and the confidence to know I can wear many hats. The fast-paced, growth-oriented environment at M13 affords me the opportunity to learn from the best in the industry, apply my diverse skill set, and develop new responsibilities.
It’s not really good enough to be ‘good enough’ anymore.
Focus on relationships, not just deliverables and outcomes.
I received some advice early in my career to focus on relationships rather than just deliverables and outcomes. While not wildly unconventional to some, it was nice “permission” when I was first starting my career with a very left-brain focus—architecture and finance.
Ultimately, it’s the relationships I’ve developed that have not only opened doors, but also made work more rewarding.
Although it has “consumer” right there in the name, investors in the “consumer / consumer tech” industry tend to spend most of their time thinking about the product, the technology, the financing, and so on. In this landscape, it’s easy for the human factor to get left behind—even though we’re all consumers ourselves.
By bringing a strong consumer perspective to my role at M13, I’m able to help our team appreciate the true needs of people and translate those into something that others aren’t just willing, but excited, to buy. On top of that, I’ve been lucky to accumulate strategic and operational experience across many different stages of company growth—from inception to billions in revenue.
One of our core values at M13 is community—meaning that we’re in it for each other, and we’re all mutually responsible for the health of our ecosystem. I love this because it not only sets a clear road map for decision making and prioritization of work, but also helps to create a warm, enjoyable culture.
When it comes to my life before M13, I’m quite proud of the work we did while I was leading Dove Men + Care. We progressed the national conversation around what modern masculinity looks like and the role of fatherhood today, all while generating massive returns to the business.
I’m passionate about making others’ lives more enjoyable, which requires really getting to know people. At work that means building brands, products, and businesses to address things that people need (or don’t yet know they need). And outside of work that means baking—bringing joy via butter and sugar!
Founders will spend most of their time ‘selling’—selling their vision to investors, advisers, and employees, and selling their product to customers—so strong communication, integrity, and empathy make all the difference.
Entrepreneurs have that little bit of crazy in them that makes them believe they can achieve what so many others perceive to be impossible.
The sacrifice of stability in favor of ambiguity. In my experience, that’s the number one thing that prevents people from embarking on an entrepreneurial venture—and that’s what makes me so excited for the M13 Launchpad model.
While nothing can remove the ambiguity that surrounds a startup’s chances of success and in turn, a founder’s job security, our model helps maintain some level of structure by providing something unheard of for founders: a salary and benefits.
Yes, it takes a huge leap to start your own business—and the most successful entrepreneurs have that little bit of crazy that makes them believe they can achieve what others call impossible—but that opportunity shouldn’t only be available to people with certain backgrounds and resources.
That’s the most rewarding part of the Launchpad experience, for me: Seeing the ways our unconventional setup makes entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive.
My background has been a unique cocktail of operational, supply chain, finance, and strategy experience, but I believe my biggest value-add stems from the variety of workplace cultures I’ve been a part of. From working at a massive company with one of the most respected corporate cultures (Target) to holding various roles at startups from 10-40 employees, I’ve learned about problems and solutions big and small, and emerged armed with the skills to build a culture from the ground up.
I’m most passionate about helping founders achieve their passions. I’ve found that my entrepreneurial spirit and drive shine brightest when they’re used to help those around me.
You have to get uncomfortable to be comfortable.
After spending more than 2 years pouring every ounce of energy, heart, passion and drive into my agency, Marlowe Media, I realized I wanted a change. I loved what I did, but I also know that life is about constantly evolving, learning, and building, and I was ready to start my next chapter as part of a team. With its passion for entrepreneurs and my entrepreneurial spirit, I knew M13 was just the place to do it.
One part of the M13 ethos that really resonates with me is our attitude toward founders. I love how M13 values entrepreneurs and understands them (because, like me, many members of the team have firsthand experience starting a business). This gives us a unique empathy towards founders starting their companies.
Building my own company gave me insight on the importance of doing things both right and with speed. The objective is always quality—but you have to balance that with ensuring you’re moving quickly in everything you do. That ability to “hustle smart” and be scrappy has given me a powerful perspective in my role at M13.
As a brand manager, I’m able to help define and shape evolving brands—both M13’s own brand and those of our portfolio companies—and I’ve seen firsthand the scope of impact that branding can have.
One of the biggest ways that a brand comes to life, in this day and age, is through social media. At M13, I’ve been responsible for growing one of our portfolio companies’ Instagram accounts 1354% (to 500K followers) and helped that brand reach over 12.5 million users through our influencer collaborations and activations.
In my experience, the most exceptional founders are driven. Motivated. Unique. And— maybe most importantly—they’re capable of rolling with the punches when things don’t always happen the exact way they planned…because they never do.
You have to get uncomfortable to be comfortable.
There are so many highs and so many lows to starting your own company, but every single one is a learning lesson. I think one of the biggest lessons is patience. Things will never happen overnight. Trust the process, because in 12 months, you’ll be in a very different place than you expected to be when you first started—and that’s ok.
Try to accomplish one thing that will help progress the trajectory of your business every day. It can be as simple and small as sending an email, but do what you can to always be moving forward.
I come as one but I stand as ten thousand.
I believe in the power of gathering. Engaging, growing, and connecting people energizes me and I especially love when serendipitous connections happen. When we gather to learn about new people, ideas, and experiences, the most interesting things come to light. In addition to curating events, content, and experiences happening today, I’m also spending time thinking about what the future of gatherings and connecting is going to look like.
Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of different worlds and interacted with many different types of people. The moments that stuck with me were those times when people came together to create something better than what they could do by themselves. That’s why M13’s theme of #BrighterTogether resonates with me.
I come as one, but I stand as ten thousand. Adapted from Maya Angelou, I have always loved this phrase. It reminds me of my ancestors, and all the people who I may not be able to see, feel, and experience, but have paved the way for me to be where I am. We are each made up of the people, places, and experiences that have shaped us and I’m honored to be able to create the environments in which we can share our uniqueness with one another.
Telescope in one eye, microscope in the other.
Exceptional service is its own form of art.
I believe exceptional service is its own form of art. One of my favorite quotes from Charles Eames: “The art is not something you apply to your work. The art is the way you do your work, a result of your attitude toward it.” Venture capital is a product that founders purchase with their equity, and we have an unbounded opportunity to infuse this product with creativity and delight – that’s what drives me.
The leaders that inspire me most bring this craftsmanship to company and brand building. Leading with vulnerability and exceptional clarity of vision, they are customer obsessed, masterful storytellers, and relentless advocates for their team.
A pledge I’ll always remember from Josh Kopelman at First Round is that we owe the founders we work with two things: our unvarnished opinions and unwavering support. I don’t take the position we’re in to serve founders for granted, and will always strive to raise the bar on how we accelerate their progress. And most importantly, having an amazing time along the way.
Take time to teach.
Being the first employee at M13 has been a transformative experience. The Reum brothers were my inspiration for joining the company, and I’ve learned an incredible amount in my first year on the job. I think a big reason why M13 has been able to evolve into such a thriving community is because the leadership team takes time to teach. Curiosity is encouraged, so if you’re not asking questions and looking for the best solutions, you’re probably in the wrong place.
M13 believes in commitment. From top to bottom, everyone is invested in each of our clients and their future-forward aspirations. We all play to our strengths and turn guidance into action. I feel lucky that my role gives me a front-row seat to a lot of the incredible mentorship and collaboration that takes these aspirations and turns them into realities. The expedited guidance that M13 offers our founders (and our staff) is hard to find anywhere else.
Inspiration is critical. It’s what drives progress and the desire to succeed. I approach my work with a growth mindset, inspired by a team that does the same. We embrace challenges head-on and feel energized by the excitement of working towards building things that don’t exist… yet.
Ultimately, my goal is to help make people happy. This means supporting others in striking a balance between work and play. On weekends, I try to lead by example by relaxing at local coffee shops and catching up on the latest in fashion e-commerce.
Don’t focus on too many things at one time. Your attention is a resource, and it’s more powerful when you don’t spread it too thin.
At M13, I have a dynamic role that includes everything from assisting our founders, with any of their business-related needs, to collaborating on the events side and managing our operating system.
I’m here to support the Executive team as a whole, creating efficiencies where I can and stepping up to make sure that everyone on the team is freeing up as much of their capacity as possible to collaborate with our unbelievable founding teams.
My past experiences working at Allure really showed me the type of work environment I thrive in: one with high morale and a shared energy, where employees are both encouraged to be their authentic selves and challenged to be their best. It became clear to me from the very start that M13 had this kind of culture—that they were a we-based company, not an I-based company.
In my prior role, I had the unique experience of partnering with brands from many different industries, each with different wants, needs, and work styles. Every new client meeting or interaction was a lesson in what makes people tick and how we could flexibly deliver the things each brand wanted out of their partnership with Allure. This experience has been invaluable as I’ve moved to M13, reminding me that there’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution.
Everyone at M13—from the interns to the Managing Partners—cares about each person’s success and appreciates everyone’s part in creating an amazing legacy for M13. This was all very clear to me from the beginning and is part of what made me so excited to join the M13 family.My best advice? Don’t focus on too many things at one time. Your attention is a resource, and it’s more powerful when you don’t spread it too thin.
In my role at M13, I support the whole team in their day-to-day efforts to help founders grow their businesses. It’s really rewarding to be part of a chain with so many impactful links, and the culture of teamwork at M13 reminds me daily that we’re all pulling in the same direction. One team, one dream.
I owned a dance business for eight years, and after working for myself so long, it’s inspiring to come back to a work environment filled with so many talented, driven, people that have so much energy and passion for their jobs and career goals. I’ve learned a lot from them (individually) and from this environment, which constantly challenges me to learn and experience new things.
One of the best things, for me, about working at M13 is seeing the founders we work with get the opportunity to pursue their dreams to their fullest potential. Not everyone currently has the resources or the opportunity to follow through on their ideas, so being a part of making that possible for people is really rewarding.
My best advice? Take care of yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
At M13, I’m a personal assistant to Founders Carter and Courtney Reum.
Moving to the Venture Capital world has been an interesting and exciting experience for me, and I feel lucky that my previous experiences in the retail world have taught me how to be both helpful and efficient.
Things move quickly around here—when you’re doing things as big as our portfolio companies are, you’ve got to be prepared to hustle—but everything we do at M13 is guided by this sense of community and appreciation. Everyone is in this together, and that’s an incredibly rewarding way to feel at work.
Building relationships and anticipating peoples’ needs are two skills I developed in retail that have been critical at M13, and I’m proud to be a part of our mission to grow incredible companies and do Venture Capital a little differently.
The reason I joined the M13 team is just two words: Karl. Alomar. I had been supporting Karl at DigitalOcean for 5 years and have loved working together. I believe in his vision and his people-first method of being at the helm of organizations, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to continue working together.
The focus on community at M13 resonates with me. The idea that we are stronger together than the sum of our individual strengths is humbling, and makes me approach situations with care and respect.
Working at DigitalOcean, with a group of people who were nothing short of extraordinary, was a transformative experience for me, both professionally and personally. It was there that I first experienced working with people who genuinely cared about my personal and professional development. Working at DigitalOcean was like coming to work with a big group of your smartest, most supportive and interesting friends, and getting to grow and learn together every day.
Being a part of DigitalOcean from the early days taught me so much about how to support others and be a part of a team that’s all pulling in the same direction.
Growing a company from 30 to ~500 is no easy task, and it was an honor to be part of such an amazing team. Together, we planned and executed countless events to foster connection within our growing organization, and we were often credited with being the differentiating factor that made our company a great place to work. I’m excited to do the same at M13!
As an Investing Research Assistant, I act as a central node to keep M13 running smoothly. That means everything from helping the investing team manage the flow of inbound and outbound opportunities, to putting together research on our portfolio companies.
“Is this a process that will work for us in six months?” How about a year? Five years? Ten? Because M13 is growing at such an exciting pace, one of the most important things I do is gut-check our processes to set M13 up to be the most successful version of ourselves in the long term.
The team is the best part of working at M13. Feeling like everyone is invested in the process—including a lot of the little details that I manage—makes the work feel especially rewarding.
Working with entrepreneurs is always energizing for me. Their passion and belief in changing the world for the better with the ideas they’re bringing to life make the work I do feel all the more meaningful, and I take pride in knowing that I’m part of something with the potential to leave a lasting impact.
At M13, we like to say “the whole is brighter than the sum of its parts.” All the value we’re able to create for our portfolio companies is made possible by the strength and camaraderie of the whole M13 tribe—a whole lot of bright people working together.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten is “don’t be afraid to say no.” Especially for women, who are often encouraged to follow others’ lead: don’t be afraid to put your foot down, to know your worth, and to follow your own path. It’s inspiring to see the founders we work with live this mission every day.
I’m an astronaut, and so are you.
M13 is all about doing things differently, and so am I.
I’m not just one thing—sure, I’m an astronaut, a big thinker, and a leap taker, but most importantly, I’m also a founder. And I represent every single one of the diverse and amazing entrepreneurs who make the M13 universe shine so brightly.
I’m inspired by this huge world we live in—but instead of just finding a place to fit in, I asked myself how things could be even better. Then, I took a shot at making them so. And instead of just seeking out all the answers, I found a team that also encouraged me to ask the right questions.
That’s how I ended up at M13. The team supports my ideas, and also challenges me to ask how I can keep making them better. They’ve got crazy-experienced team members who are always willing to make the time for me and my mission. They’ve all been through this journey before. And they help me anticipate what I need to do next (and why) , with resources and playbooks to let me focus on what I do best and our unique differentiators. Most of all, I think they see a little of themselves in me—because many of them were (or still are) entrepreneurs, too.
I guess what I’m saying is, when it comes to my mission, there’s no one else I’d rather have running ground control.