In March of 2012 I found myself pacing back and forth on the tar-covered rooftop of my LA apartment building, trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I’d recently hit my 9 month anniversary on the west coast and come to the reluctant conclusion that I was just too much of a New Yorker to trade in my walking shoes for highway miles much longer. Besides, I’d spent the last several years working in finance, and I was starting to feel nostalgic for conversations that didn’t involve pretending to understand what a “show runner” was or tallying up my celebrity sightings.
Since 2008 I had worked for the same boutique investment bank, and following in the footsteps of some of my fellow classmates, I started putting feelers out to the typical cast of financial employers.
Just as interviews were starting to ramp up, I received an email out-of-the-blue from my friend Alex, introducing me to a marketing executive by the name of Saneel Radia. At the time, Saneel had been actively working on an idea to start a new breed of innovation company — focused on helping some of the world’s largest brands develop new digital products. Despite the fact that Saneel had about a decade more experience than I did, Alex convinced him that I might make a good partner.
Over the course of several months my conversations with Saneel steadily got more serious, and on the day I found myself pacing back and forth in the mild afternoon sun of West Hollywood, I realized that it was time to make a decision. Did I stick with the well-worn finance career path, or potentially leave it forever to try something altogether different?
As I described the situation to a good friend on the phone that day, he stopped me mid-sentence and said “put aside your concerns about the job or the ‘ladder’ and tell me about your partner.” In response, I said that I thought Saneel was brilliant. I was confident I’d be able to learn a lot from him and that I had the feeling we’d work well together. “Well then, I think you have your answer” he replied. And he was right.
Just as with products at early stage startups, “iterating” on your career plans can prove incredibly beneficial. These changes represent an opportunity to rediscover excitement in your work, broaden your perspective, and unlock new value from existing skills. However, getting them right requires first finding a team of people committed to helping you succeed.
In the first few years of Finch15, we learned a lot about the innovation landscape, pitching major corporations, and defining the strengths that made us unique. Getting there certainly entailed its share of speed bumps. For example, when I got so nervous during our first client pitch that I managed to mispronounce my own name. Thankfully, the culture we had built was one based on candor, mutual respect and a focus on our collective progress. We eventually hit our stride as a company, largely because we felt comfortable experimenting and getting some things wrong.
Four years after starting Finch15 (which went on to become part of the Publicis Groupe family), I find myself fortunate enough to have another opportunity to continue my career journey down a new path in Venture Capital. I’m proud to announce that beginning this month, I’ll be joining Venrock as a Vice President in the New York office — focused on early stage investments across IT sectors.
While the decision to join Venrock involved a lot less pacing, my rationale in making it was very similar. In the time I’ve gotten to know the team here, I’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for their depth of expertise, work ethic, and willingness to mentor. These attributes take root a 50 year legacy of helping build some of the most valuable technology companies in existence.
As I look ahead to the next few years, I’m excited to not only learn from and contribute to this team, but also extend that same support to the community of passionate entrepreneurs we work with. If you happen to be one, please don’t hesitate to reach out!