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!