The following is a reflection of Behind Genius Ventures’ Annual Summit. The purpose of this piece is to share my perspective as an emerging manager on running my first annual summit and highlight the great feedback I received.
From the third floor of my office in La Jolla, I could see pelicans swooping over the waves in La Jolla Cove. Sun streamed across the floor, a rare beautiful 75 degree San Diego April day during a month of torrential rain.
I had dreamed of this moment before, I was sure of it. Way before Behind Genius Ventures was even an idea, I had a vivid dream of working in an ocean view office and feeling the anticipation of a special day ahead.
And now - the office? Mine. The ocean view? Very real. The special day? My first annual general meeting for Behind Genius Ventures.
In an hour, I’d begin greeting my investors and the founders I’ve backed as they flew in from all over the world. Jasper, an investor of mine who I met on Twitter, from Paris. Michael Kim of Cendana, who I landed as an LP after traveling to three continents to meet with other portfolio emerging mangers. Kristen Wiley, the CEO of Statusphere, who I met through Neal Jean, CEO of Beacons.AI, one of our portfolio founders. Deepak Sekar, CEO of portfolio company ProfJIm, and now an LP in my second fund. Shail Mehta, CEO of The Last Gameboard, a BGV portfolio company, who came from Denver with a Gameboard. Mei Lin, who I met through Shail Mehta. The list went on!
I chose the Atheneum, a private music and arts library, as the venue for our annual meeting. The cozy environment would be a solid complement to the hour and a half of programming that I had prepared, including:
After the presentation, we had a casual lunch of sandwiches & salads from a local deli. I blocked the afternoon to allow attendees to explore La Jolla or get work done in our offices. A few of us went for a long walk along the beach, and I heard more than a few people remark they could see themselves living here.
In the afternoon, I saw magic take place. Groups of founders and LPs chatted excitedly about business ideas and lessons learned. I’ve learned from hosting and attending other events that unstructured “hang time” is the best part. I invited my family, friends, and students to join us for a celebratory sunset happy hour, which extended into a delicious taco dinner at Puesto.
As I drove home that evening, I reflected on the day.
I remembered feeling nervous to put the meeting together by myself and worrying if people would come. I reframed attendance by thinking “Even if just one person flies to see this, it will be more than enough.” My executive coach, Mindy Zhang, reminded me:
Give yourself a margin of error. Your job is not to throw a perfect event, it’s to make everyone feel that wonderful energy you carry and to connect with each other.
I kept repeating to myself: your job is to maintain your energy. That’s it.
I prepared myself by remembering that it wasn’t about if things would go wrong, but when. This helped me take it in stride (and laugh it off) when they did. The door to the venue was locked in the morning? It would open eventually. Lunch time took too long? We started a parade down the street - everyone carrying sandwiches, sodas, and salad bowls back up to my office. Photographer arrived early? We took photos on the beach instead.
When I woke up the next morning, I distinctly remember saying “I am so happy” out loud. After two and a half years of building BGV on the road and over Zoom, it felt so good to have my community converge in my home city of San Diego. When I asked for feedback, one of the most resounding aspects was how excited people are for the future of Behind Genius Ventures.
My vision for the future of Behind Genius Ventures is one grounded in my own principles:
Investing in founders who are:
I cannot predict the future, but I can invest in people I want to see leading the generation-defining companies of the future. By setting these principles into the bedrock of Behind Genius Ventures, I allow myself grace, creativity, and surrender to the possibilities in the space in between.
I wanted to share some of the feedback I received from both founders and our investors who joined:
Early stage venture is a lot about intuition regarding markets and founders. Being at the event, it was apparent Paige has that rare ability and it shows in her TVPI numbers so far. Was great to meet other people around her who want to see her succeed too.
Deepak Sekar, Fund I portfolio founder and Fund II LP
It’s rare to find a group just as dedicated to supporting one another as they are to building generation-defining companies. My co-founder and I have already bragged about the community to our founder friends.
David Kobrosky, Fund I portfolio CEO - Intros.AI
I so enjoyed connecting with the other BGV portfolio founders and LPs at last week's event. One of the most valuable things an investor can do is enable their portfolio founders to build their network and give opportunities to connect with other founders. Paige/BGV does such an incredible job at this.
Kristen Wiley, Fund II portfolio CEO - Statusphere
Attending the BGV Annual Meeting was a truly enjoyable experience. Meeting Paige in person was definitely a highlight for me, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with the dynamic founders that BGV has invested in. The event also provided a platform for deepening my relationships with other LPs in the fund, and I couldn't help but appreciate the incredible sense of community that Paige is building through BGV.
Tyler Short, Fund II LP
In conclusion, the first Behind Genius Ventures Annual Summit 2023 provided a valuable opportunity for industry leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs to come together and share their insights and experiences. From the key themes and insights discussed, to the takeaways and lessons learned, attendees gained valuable knowledge and perspectives on how to navigate the evolving landscape of venture capital. I look forward to seeing you all at next year's Summit.