The call comes from the elite programs. It comes from North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky or UCLA. When the phone rings, you don’t ask questions, you just say, “yes.” These programs provide the infrastructure required to win championships and expect you to get it done. Coaching at one of these schools doesn’t make you great, but it means there are no excuses if your program can’t raise a banner to rafters. All doors are open. This was my dream.
It turned out both Wall Street and coaching took a back seat to my love of sneakers after college. I turned down Goldman in 1997 for an unpaid internship at a little t-shirt company with aspirations to be the number one basketball company in the world. I played hoops every day at lunch and got paid to think about sneaker culture the rest of the day.
I have been in the startup industry ever since.
Like a coach, I have had my ups and downs over the past 15 years as an early employee, founder and investor. I have put some wins on the board and had some tough breaks. I have had great teams that did more than anyone thought possible, and teams that were only great on paper.
After several years as an investor at First Round, the phone rang. It was “the call.” I said, “yes” and could not be more excited to give Kent a cross-country fist bump as we join Josh, Howard, Chris and Rob as partners at First Round Capital.
I love that I can commit 100% of my energy to helping amazing entrepreneurs build great companies. I love that we have a specific point of view on the market and are focused on a specific niche – seed stage all day, everyday. My favorite time in a company’s life is the early days when the DNA is established. At First Round I get to help a business grow from three employees to 30; I get to be a part of the process as founders identify their first customers and get their first products to market; I am privileged to provide a third opinion as they rubber duck their way through a problem and empowered to help them activate my network, the First Round Community and the collective resources of my partners to maximize their chance of success.
In my time at First Round I have learned from an amazing group of people – colleagues, mentors, founders and co-investors. It is like coaching at a basketball powerhouse – you get to recruit and work with the best players, support them with the best products and deliver all the services required to maximize their potential to create great teams that can win it all.
Since day one at FRC, people have asked me if I miss the operating side of the business and now I can say no.
First Round is my startup.
New York is my city.
If you work in the startup industry and I can help, let’s do it.