Elena Verna is a master when it comes to all things starting and scaling growth organizations. Previously, Elena spent over 7 years as SVP Growth @ SurveyMonkey where she ran product, growth marketing, and data teams. Post SurveyMonkey, Elena worked with the rocket ship that is Miro both as Interim CMO and as an advisor. Elena has also advised some of the best growth orgs with advisor roles at HP, MongoDB, Netlify, Maze, and many more awesome companies.
1.) How Elena made her way into the world of tech and growth from a Craiglist job listing? What was her big break in the world of growth with her first Head of Growth role?
2.) How does Elena define "growth" and "Head of Growth"? When should startups not have a growth team? What are the 3 main levers to the growth model today? How does Elena advise between hiring a CMO vs Head of Growth? Where do many founders make mistakes with this decision in mind?
3.) Who are the wrong people to hire for your growth team? What characteristics and traits do these people have that make them bad for growth? What questions does Elena ask in interviews to determine if they have these traits? How does Elena advise founders structure the process of hiring their "Head of Growth"? Should it be internal promotion or external hire?
4.) Where do most founders go wrong in the onboarding phase of their growth team? What do you have to have in place before the growth team starts? What are the biggest red flags for founders when reviewing their growth teams in the first 3 months? Why does Elena not like post-mortems? What is the optimal relationship between CEO and Head of Growth?
5.) How can growth teams work most effectively with both product and engineering teams? How do they need to communicate to ensure a healthy relationship? Where do growth teams most often make mistakes here? What have been some of Elena's lessons on how growth can experiment without angering engineering teams?
Will Shu is the Founder & CEO @ Deliveroo, the company that provides your favorite restaurants and takeaways, delivered to your door. Prior to their IPO earlier this year, Will raised over $1.7BN for the company from some of the best including Accel, Index, General Catalyst, Greenoaks, and more. Before Deliveroo, Will worked in finance as an analyst with SAC Capital, ESO Capital, and Morgan Stanley in New York and London. Fun fact, Will still enjoys regularly delivering food orders on his bike.
1.) How Will made his way from hedge funds and Morgan Stanley to changing the world of food and delivery with Deliveroo? Why did Deliveroo not work the first time Will started it?
2.) Restaurant + Customer Acquisition: How did Will acquire the first restaurants to the platform? What did that education process look like for them? What do the restaurants care about? How did Will acquire the first customers? How has that changed over time? What matters to customers; speed, selection or price? How does this change by geography and country?
3.) New Markets: How do Deliveroo select new markets to enter? What makes one more attractive than another? From a resource perspective, what does it take to open a new market? What have been some of the biggest lessons on zone maturity and time to breakeven? Why does Deliveroo not track driver efficiency on a number of drops basis? What is the right mechanism to measure driver efficiency?
4.) Competition: How did Deliveroo come late to markets like France and end up winning them? What was it like competing against Uber with Eats? How important is restaurant exclusivity to Deliveroo retaining its position? What would Will have done differently with regards to competition, with the benefit of hindsight?
5.) Quick commerce: What does Will make of the unprecedented rise of quick commerce? Will we see many winners on a per market basis or will this be a consolidatory environment? What do many of the new entrants mistake or not understand? Why is the vertical ownership of the supply chain such a superior model to working with grocery partners?
Will’s Favourite Book: From Third World to First: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom
Ankur Nagpal is the Founding Partner @ Vibe Capital, today announcing his new $70M solo GP fund and with a track record that includes the likes of Roam Research, Eight Sleep, Circle, Hone Health and Maven to name a few. Prior to entering venture, Ankur was the Founder and CEO @ Teachable, a platform where educators can create and sell their own online courses. Ankur led the company until their reported $250M acquisition to Hotmart in 2020.
1.) How Ankur made his way into the world of venture investing having founded and exited Teachable for over $250M having raised just $13M in venture funding?
2.) From Angel to Fund: How did Ankur's mindset change with the transition from angel to institutional VC? How does Ankur feel about the rise of party rounds? What does Ankur advise founders trying to get brand names on cap tables?
3.) Portfolio Construction: With the new fund, how does Ankur think through portfolio construction? What is his required level of ownership? How does Ankur feel about optionality checks to get data and information for a larger check down the road? Does Ankur feel it is possible to build ownership in your best companies?
4.) The Future of Venture: Why does Ankur feel that largely, VCs detract value when they invest in a company? Base level, what is Ankur's promise to founders he invests in? From his time as a founder, what does founders most want in their cap table? Will we see a generation of operator-led funds? Will this be a game of the 1%? How will the large funds respond to this?
5.) Emerging Markets: What are the 3 core characteristics that make emerging markets so attractive for Ankur? What elements concern Ankur when investing in emerging markets? How does he screen for integrity with more granularity? How does Ankur analyse the progression of emerging markets in terms of their own hype cycles?
Ankur’s Favourite Book: Losing my Virignity
Fidji Simo is the CEO @ Instacart, the company that allows you to order whatever you want from local stores, delivering it straight to your door. Fidji joined the Instacart board 10 months ago and just 3 months ago, Fidji joined Instacart full time as CEO. Prior to Instacart, Fidji spent an incredible 10 years at Facebook in numerous different roles including Head of Facebook App and before that Vice President of Games, Video and Monetisation. If this was not enough, Fidji earlier this year announced her co-founding of Metrodora, an integrated medical ecosystem with the vision of advancing women’s health.
1.) How Fidji made her way from a small coastal fishing town in France to leading the Facebook App and becoming one of the most powerful CEOs in tech with her new role at Instacart?
2.) The Rise @ Facebook: How did Fidji rise in the ranks at Facebook so much faster than anyone else? What were the biggest inflection points in her rise? What bets did she make that others did not see? How did they play out? Did any of the bets go wrong? What did Fidji learn about management style when the bet went wrong?
3.) Problem Solving and Decision-Making: What framework does Fidji use to have the most effective problem-solving and decision-making process? How does Fidji built such tight trust and honesty with her team members? In what way can leaders make people feel safe to take big bets but also not lose accountability if it does not work out?
4.) The Move To Instacart: Why did Fidji decide that CEO of Instacart was the right next move for her? What was Fidji's hypothesis of how the first 100 days would go? What has been a surprise in the first 100 days? How do the best leaders onboard into new CEO roles? How does the role of CEO change when moving from private to public company?
Fidji’s Favourite Book: The Night Circus
George Kurtz is the CEO and co-founder of CrowdStrike, a leading provider of next-generation endpoint protection, threat intelligence, and services. Prior to Crowdstrike's incredibly successful IPO in 2019, George raised funding from the likes of Accel, General Atlantic, CapitalG, IVP and Warburg Pincus to name a few. Before founding Crowdstrike, George spent close to 7 years at McAfee in roles such as Worldwide Chief Technology Officer and GM as well as EVP of Enterprise. Finally, before McAfee, George started Foundstone in 1999 leading them very successfully to their acquisition by McAfee in 2004.
1.) How George came to found Crowdstrike having been Worldwide CTO @ McAfee? How did the founding of his prior companies impact how George thought about the early days of Crowdstrike? What does George believe are the pros and cons of serial entrepreneurship?
2.) Funding: With the benefit of hindsight, how does George reflect on his approach to fundraising? How did what George needed from VCs change over time? How does George approach investor selection? Through what framework does George advise founders as the right way to construct their cap table? Where do many go wrong on investor selection?
3.) Talent Acquisition: What has enabled George to hire some of the best talent in the world? What is the right way to construct the hiring process to recruit the best? What does George mean when he says, "you cannot forget the spouse factor"? Why is cash a moat and important when it comes to talent acquisition?
4.) Leadership: How has George's style of leadership changed over time? What stage of leadership did George find the most challenging? How does George find being a public markets CEO? What elements does he enjoy the most? What does he enjoy the least? Why does George believe the company has been so well received by public markets?
George’s Favourite Book: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't
Chris Sacca is the Founder and Chairman @ Lowercase Capital, one of the best performing funds in the history of venture capital with a portfolio including Uber, Stripe, Twitter, Instagram, Twilio, Docker and many more. Despite this incredible success, in 2017, Chris and his wife, Crystal announced they would be stepping back from day to day investing to focus on ongoing efforts to rescue our democracy, heal the planet, promote diversity within venture capital. Earlier this year, they announced Lowercarbon Capital, with $800M AUM, with the mission to back companies that make real money slashing CO2 emissions, and buying us time to unf**k the planet. Fun fact: As a result of his incredible investing success Chris has also been a Shark on Shark Tank and even starred in an episode of Billions.
1.) How Chris made his way into the world of investing having started life as a lawyer? What was his first investment? How did the first Twitter $25K angel check come about?
2.) How does Chris evaluate his own relationship to money and wealth? Why did Chris and Crystal interview some of the wealthiest people? What did they learn from those discussions? How does Chris view the role of luck? Why was it when Chris lacked optimism he lost the most money? How did being $4M in the hole from public markets impact his mindset?
3.) What does it mean for Chris to bring up healthy and happy children? Why does Chris believe today's parenting has bred a generation of asshole kids? In what way is great parenting aligned to great team management? How does Chris give feedback to his teams vs his children? What tone should be used? Should it always be "radical candor"? Should it be immediate?
4.) Does Chris believe that VCs really add any value? What does Chris believe is his secret sauce? Why does Chris believe that as a VC you have to be outspoken and loud about the value you provide? What have been some of the biggest lessons for Chris from sitting on boards and working with Bill Gurley? Why does Chris believe that most VCs are shitty managers?
5.) Why did Chris decide to come back from retirement and found Lowercarbon with Crystal? Why did he not decide to do it all with his own money? Why is now different for climate tech than prior generations of climate tech innovation? How big does Chris want to scale Lowercarbon? Will Chris make more money from climate investing than from tech?
Chris’ Favourite Book: Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived, How To Raise an Adult
Anthony Casalena is the Founder & CEO @ Squarespace, the company that allows you to create a website, sell anything and market your business. To date, Anthony has raised over $948M for the company from the likes of General Atlantic, Index Ventures, Tiger Global; culminating in their IPO in May 2021. Despite the incredible size and scale of Squarespace today, Anthony started the company from his dorm room in 2003 and bootstrapped the business for many years to today with over 1,100 employees around the world.
1.) How Anthony came to start Squarespace from a dorm room and turn it into a public company with over 1,200 employees globally?
2.) Why did Anthony decide to bootstrap with Squarespace for over 6 years when the company was scaling fast and profitable? How was Anthony's mindset impacted by the efficiency of bootstrap scaling? How did Anthony's mindset change when Squarespace raised their first large round? How does Anthony advise founders today on raising venture vs bootstrapping?
3.) Why did Anthony decide to do the direct listing over the more traditional IPO or a SPAC? How does Anthony advise other founders contemplating the same exit choices? How does Anthony personally describe this chapter of the company? Does he enjoy being a public company CEO? What are the best elements? What are the worst?
4.) E-Commerce has been a massive driver for growth for Squarespace, how does Anthony feel about the future of e-commerce on Squarespace? Only 1% of Squarespace's $700M ARR comes from enterprise, does enterprise hold a meaningful position in the future of the company? What are the core challenges of moving into enterprise? How does the company need to change?
5.) With the growth of the company, how has Anthony changed his style of leadership? What are his biggest strengths? What are his biggest weaknesses? What are the most obvious breakpoints in the scaling of companies?
Anthony’s Favourite Book: Thinking Fast and Slow
Anton Levy is Co-President, Managing Director and Global Head of General Atlantic’s Technology sector. Anton has led General Atlantic’s investments in the likes of Alibaba, CrowdStrike, Facebook, Slack and Snapchat and co-led investments in Adyen and Bytedance. As a result, Anton has been named to the Forbes Midas List of top investors each year from 2014 to 2021. Anton has also enjoyed board positions either as a member or observer in companies such as Uber, MercadoLibre, Klarna and Meituan to name a few.
1.) How Anton made his way into the world of growth investing? What have been some of Anton's biggest lessons from seeing the booms and busts of the macro-environment?
2.) The Landscape: What does Anton believe are the two largest changes/trends in the venture landscape today? What does Anton think is the right way to respond to the threat of Tiger Global? How should founders think about active vs passive cash? How does Anton reflect on his own price sensitivity? What have been some of his biggest lessons on pricing?
3.) Portfolio Construction: How have GA had to change their approach to investing over the last few years? Why have they decided actively to move earlier and write smaller checks? How does a $50M investment from an $8BN impact portfolio construction thinking? How does GA determine which of their winners to size up into and write a $500M check? What is the process for that?
4.) Deployment Cycles: How does Anton think about the compression of deployment cycles in venture? Are people acting rationally? When will the bubble burst? How do interest rates impact capital inflows into venture? Why does Anton believe we are entering a golden age of innovation? What elements concern him?
5.) Culture- Building: What have been Anton's biggest lessons when it comes to culture building internally? Where do many make mistakes here? What have been the most surprising elements of scaling GA to Anton? What mistakes did they make? How did they move to correct them?
Anton’s Favourite Book: Bridge to Terabithia
Anton’s Most Recent Investment: Articulate