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My first month at BGV

Sharing The Learning and Insights From The First Month Working As a Chief of Staff For An Early Stage Venture Firm

Rylie Jennings
5 min read
July 28, 2022

Introduction

I recently started as Head of Operations for Behind Genius Ventures, and I wanted to share more about my experiences and learnings in the following piece. I’ve been interested in venture capital since 2020, but it seemed mysterious to me. I built a foundation participating in San Diego State’s Venture Capital Investment Competition team, where I met Paige Doherty, the founding partner at Behind Genius Ventures and a coach of the VCIC team. 

Behind Genius Ventures is an early stage venture firm investing in the future of work and the future of play, backed by world-leading tech investors. 

We invest in pre seed and seed stage founders. We invest founder-first, focusing on mission-driven founders building in creator tools, developer tools, API first platforms, wellness, web3, and gaming. We invest among world-leading tech investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Tribe Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, YC, Social Capital, and more. 

We are a community first fund, and leverage both our investor relationships & Paige’s twitter platform to support early stage founders. We make introductions to downstream capital, coinvest with limited partners & do pitch practice sessions. 

Before I started at Behind Genius Ventures, I’d often ask myself “How do investors evaluate companies? How do fund managers raise capital?” 

Here are some of the dynamics I’m continuing to observe in the ecosystem: 

  • Venture capitalists and founders need each other to thrive in the ecosystem of entrepreneurship.
  • The historically opaque VC world now shares knowledge through content such as Twitter threads, articles, and podcasts.
  • Participants in the tech and venture ecosystem thrive through building relationships across companies and firms. 

My First Week at BGV

I greatly appreciate Paige’s approach to my onboarding – setting the foundation. In my onboarding, we’re focusing on three key elements:

  • Mastery: comfort with venture jargon & understanding relationships 
  • Autonomy: ability to execute projects individually
  • Belonging: engaging with others within the community 

As part of my Belonging Pillar, I started reaching out to folks that are in similar roles I had mutual connections with on Linkedin. I met with a Chief of Staff coach, an experienced corporate CoS who has a systematic way of mapping out transitions. She recommended I create my own key success factors (in consideration of the metrics provided in my onboarding document), read the First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, and be a sponge.

As part of my Mastery Pillar, I reviewed the tech stack and BGV portfolio. I also added URLs and sectors to our investments overview. This helped me understand the tech stack and the industries of focus better. I organically caught onto a lot of the firm’s existing processes and relationships.

  • Chief of Staffs genuinely each have their very own story to tell. 60% of the Chief of Staff’s I spoke with were heavily focused on coordinating marketing activities, 40% in the onboarding process, 30% in the product management side.

My first week felt very methodical, based on the conversations I’ve had, understanding the portfolio sectors, and focusing on my sense of belonging. 

My Second Week at BGV

Reading through the past BGV investment memos genuinely feels like I’m re-reading Paige and Josh’s story. Tidbits like Paige converting to full time, onboarding new LP’s and initial interactions with portfolio companies. I just read the update where they were just half way through their fundraising goal ($2.7 million). At this time period, they were prioritizing $250k+ commitments and making investments. As I started to learn more about the importance of relationships, I also started to understand why co-investors are important to list. 

I posted my first thread on Twitter about the capital call process. It’s difficult to prepare for the “spike of dopamine” that is being acknowledged by the “Twitterverse”. The moment your tweet is recognized by 1 person, then 5, then 20, then 250 people. Underestimating the potential of online writing might be the biggest mistake an aspiring VC could make. The bird app is powerful. Here’s the stats on my first VC post:

  • 99,919 impressions
  • 4,175 engagements
  • 1,229 profile visits
  • 252 likes
  • 33 retweets

This week we focused on finalizing the details of Paige’s Miami Tech Week Dinner. I’m quickly understanding how crucial social gatherings are to finding new connections and supporting your current people. 

Paige and I created our very own user manuals, to guide us through our communication styles, deeper values, and our strengths - answering questions like “How do you receive criticism?”, “What personal milestones do you hope to accomplish?”, and “What are your saboteurs?” 

My Third Week at BGV

My third week is about content. In high school, I almost applied to colleges as a journalist, but focused on finance instead. Still, creating content, spreading ideas and mapping out perspectives is something I’m very passionate about.

For my mastery pillar this week, I’ve focused on fund structure. After attending a meeting with Josh and Paige, they are accounting for mark-ups, capital calls and distributions. If I’m going to be useful in meetings as a Head of Operations, it is important to not only understand your team members roles/journey, but also the language.

Both Paige and I read “The Art and Business of Online Writing” by Nicolas Cole. We’re going to use some of his frameworks to  create a content writing guide for founder and resources. Simple writing is needed online. “Digital receipts” can be pulled. Additionally, there is a deep process to consistently writing content online and it starts with purpose and audience. 

The consistent theme of relationships continues. Utilize your network and join different cohorts, for early VC’s, founders, content creators and writers. 

My Fourth Week at BGV

I’ve noticed a sense of etiquette when it comes to speaking to investors and founders in person. I attended Innovation Day with Paige at Petco Park, and I learned more about relationship dynamics between VCs. Finding mutual connections with new people seemed to be a particularly common conversation topic.

I attended two portfolio company meetings this week. Lauren from FYPM and Marlon Wayne from Impulse. Consistent investors updates can be the defining factor in a founder's future fundraising journey. Nurturing relationships now is greater than nurturing relationships when you need them.

Want to know how to plan a party in 6 days? This week Paige announced we are coordinating a happy hour event in San Francisco for 40 people. I’m perfecting planning events virtually. The key is a 2-3 follow-ups and double confirming delivery, order details, and mutual exchange of contact information between florists, beverage vendors, and caterers. 

Why is planning events important? Consistent engagement, becoming a connector, building relationships is KEY. Making introductions to other connections is a great way to build your own personal web

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