Fighting intimidation when going through a Series A Round–With Ben Quazzo

Ben Quazzo is a growth specialist at Accel, at the intersection of tech and finance. Accel is a venture capital firm based in silicon valley, boasting 16 million under management!   We got the opportunity to pick his brain about what his work life is like, and what we can do as marketers and businessmen to better ourselves and our companies. 

💡What’s Life Like in San Fran?

When Ben started out at Accel he had 0 responsibilities and spent 90% of his time shopping around for new opportunities and building them around new categories. He would speak to around 20/25 founders a week and find pockets where he knew Accel had an interest in building a hypothesis and an investment. 

Fast forward to today, he manages 14 companies. His time is split 50/50 between thinking about what new investments look like and how he can make sure that all 14 companies are getting what they need from Accel. He’s the point guard, the problem solver! 

💡How Do You Filter Through Companies AND Not Get Intimidated When Going Through A Series A?

Two very big questions, let’s see how he handles them.

On the side of the venture capital partners, they take a step back and think about their own responsibility. They are backing partners and NEED to be supportive. Partners need some experience in the category, vertical, or stage of the business the potential customer is in. You can’t be everything to everyone!

For the person shopping around for a partner, look within their portfolio. What companies has the partner or firm invested in? Are they similar to your business? 

The biggest tip, do NOT cast a super wide net, find companies that cater to you.  One of the myths you may hear about this period is that you need an introduction to a partner or firm, that is not true! Capital is a TOTAL commodity

💡The Next Step

When it comes to business proposals, getting to the point will put you MILES ahead of the person who sends in a 25-page business proposal. There is an inverse correlation with level of excitement about a company and the number of pages. 

Don’t stress too hard about cultivating relationships with potential partners. It’s better to send out a message once a month for a year than to try and bombard someone when it comes down to crunch time and you need them. With technology moving everything at such a fast pace, it’s SO much harder to get close with a founder, which is why Accel likes cultivating long relationships. 

💡Building an Ecosystem

  There are three big buckets we’ll break down:

  • International: 15 years ago, it was GREAT to be completely U.S. based. Now, with the boom of technology and social media, even if you are a tiny store based in your basement; you are universal.
  • Hiring: With SO much capital, it has made the hiring market more competitive than ever before.
  • Board strategy/composition: People aren’t thinking about this as much right now, but it is VERY important. Getting to an exit or to a public company is something you strive to accomplish; a lot of this is following through on a vision.

You may be wondering, “Is there a benefit to having a local firm AND a bigger brand like Accel?” And that’s a good question!

If you are a local business and know that your next 5-10 hires will be in your area AND that your next customers will be also from that area, it’s worth finding a highly influential seed investor in that local area to bring on board.   Maybe launch with another large investor when you reach your series A, because that’s when you’d want to branch out. 

💡How to get in touch with Ben:

If you want to reach out to Ben and pick his brain a bit more, you can reach him at his email: bquazo@accel.com

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