Entrepreneurs as investors: Why operational experience matters

At Monk's Hill Ventures, we believe that entrepreneurial and operational background is a necessary condition to be an effective early-stage investor. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we have started, operated, grown and exited companies. We have dealt with rejections from hundreds of investors and prospective customers. We have also experienced the thrill of signing the first customer, seeing the first dollar of revenue coming through the wire, and building lifelong relationships in the process. We have worked with many VC's and boards - mostly world-class ones, but always taking away lots from the experience. We have built and recruited the best teams, and dealt with more situations than you can imagine. In short, we have been on your side of the table.

Investors often talk about value-add to their portfolio companies. It is easy to dispense academic and theoretical advice and direction. As entrepreneurs and operators, we believe it has to go beyond that. Our advice and help have to be practical and impactful. For example, in operations, we believe in helping entrepreneurs build robust systems and processes that are guided by data and metrics. We work with entrepreneurs to define these metrics. In sales and business development, we open doors and make connections, often to people we have worked with ourselves as operators. In recruiting key executives, we often have the candidates in our immediate network or are one degree of separation away. In fundraising, we help make connections to investors with values that we subscribe to and where entrepreneurs are treated as partners. We work with entrepreneurs to ensure the terms are fair.

The entrepreneurial life can be a long and unpredictable one. The pressures that an entrepreneur deals with can only truly be appreciated by a fellow entrepreneur who has lived through the same pressures. As investors who were once entrepreneurs and operators, we look forward to supporting and serving fellow entrepreneurs on the journey ahead.