What I Do
I’m a partner at Maveron, we invest in direct to consumer businesses, so only b2c companies, in the seed and Series A stages. We’re a small, collaborative team, all of us are full-stack investors, so my days are packed and filled with lots of meetings and airplanes!
Week of 8/19 - 8/25
It’s so hard to give you all a sense of what a typical week looks like because there really is no typical week in my life. :) Usually Mondays are 100% slotted for Monday meetings (where we meet as an entire investment team and spend the whole day together, discussing everything from potential investments and existing portfolio companies to macro trends and new consumer behavior shifts) — but this past Monday we didn’t do our usual meeting since it’s YC demo day.
This Monday I woke up in Seattle, went for a run on a trail (a slow 4 miles), voice dictated a few Slack responses and email replies while running or while waiting for a light (bad multitasking habit of mine!), and was back, showered, caffeinated, and read to go around 8:30am. I like to keep my mornings light on meetings and reserve the time for independent thinking, solving problems, or making tough decisions. Around 10 am I headed over to visit a portfolio company and met up with my partner Dan so that we could do some of the latest demos together.
The rest of my Monday was packed with back to back calls and a few in-person meetings, and I got to end the day with some quality family time (I have a bunch of family in Seattle). Of course, Slack and email continued late into the evening with lots of chatter about YC and other things, Slack has been a great tool for my team to stay in touch and connected despite being all over the country on some days.
I was in bed by 11 pm (my ideal bedtime is between 10 and 11 pm, I am very much a morning person and not a night person at all).
I’ve been experimenting with one “no meeting” day every two weeks or so, it doesn’t always get on the calendar, but it did this week. This day is dedicated to anything that doesn’t involve a scheduled meeting. That doesn’t mean I can’t hop on a call (I actually have made several calls today and received a few) — but it keeps my calendar free and flexible to do anything I need to. These days are especially helpful if I’m chasing a deal and need time to think, diligence, and process. They’re also helpful for catching up on email, on tasks or projects I need to complete for portfolio companies or to work on internal projects. Like I mentioned, we’re a small team so there are always a few projects each of us takes on, whether that’s revising deal flow maps or deep-diving into a specific consumer sector. These “no meeting” days can be used for that as well.
So this past Tuesday was that! Because I’m a list-maker, I try to structure these “no meeting” days with a To-Accomplish list, this Tuesday I accomplished four out of six items. Yikes. I’m not used to being a D-student!
Wednesday was an early wake-up call for me to rush to the airport. I often have early morning flights (think 6 or 7 am) and so I am well versed in preparing the night before. I pack my bags, lay out my clothes, and make sure that I don’t have to rely on remembering anything in the morning. I usually put everything in a different room so that I don’t wake up my husband, but this week he’s traveling for work so I was fine creating some early morning noise.
I flew to Toronto on Wednesday for the Inkbox board meeting. Inkbox is a semi-permanent tattoo brand, its flagship product is an easy-to-apply tattoo (with hundreds of options because of an artist marketplace and customization). The tattoos look like real tattoos and fade like real tattoos, but only last a few weeks. I landed in Toronto, got some food (hadn’t eaten all day), rushed over to the Inkbox office, and then went to visit their new brick and mortar location on Queen St, a bustling, popping spot with a lot of foot traffic. Here’s a photo of my partner David and I at the Inkbox store, if you’re in Toronto, swing by!
We then hopped in the founder’s car and drove 2.5 hours to a northern lake village called Muskoka for a board retreat. Sadly I only had 15 hours at the cabin — sleep, board meeting, and rush back to the airport to fly to Portland!
Here’s what the view from the cabin looked like on Lake Bass:
By the way, I fly a LOT and have set flight protocols in place to optimize flight time. I almost never buy the wifi, but almost always have non-Internet related things set on my iPad (iPad not laptop, makes life a lot easier!) to plow through. Whether that’s refining investment memos, reading a bunch of articles and papers, reviewing board decks, writing emails (that can be sent upon landing), or formulating blog posts. I am incredibly productive on flights and while I don’t like how much I fly, I do appreciate that they aren’t time sinks for me. I am also that person who is efficient at the airport, I like to get to the flight right before it takes off. I walk quickly through the airport. And I almost never check bags. Other travel hacks include a ton of moisturizer or even something like the Summer Friday’s jet lag mask (which is just a heavy cream face mask for that terrible airplane air), lots of water (it’s free, keep asking for more!), and walking and taking the stairs at airports (some days my only “workout” is walking between terminals!).
Inkbox board meeting! Gave myself a few “for-now” tattoos (see photos below)
I left the cabin around 1 pm to trek back to the airport — had a couple of calls in the car along the way, grabbed a Subway sandwich (I LOVE Subway), and made it to my flight with a bit too much time to spare ;)
I had to fly from Toronto to Portland (I’m from Portland and have a three-day Indian wedding of a close childhood friend), and since there were limited direct options (I prefer direct flights) I had to fly through O’Hare. Thankfully I made it home to Portland around 10:30 pm with no delays and no hiccups!
Hello Friday! This week I’ve been in San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, and now, Portland. I woke up around 7:30 am to crank out some work before the calls started for the day. Every member of the investment team takes turns running the Monday meeting, this coming Monday is my turn, so I did some prep in the morning. I am also video conferencing into my friend’s Monday partner meeting before my own to share some D2C best practices (they are largely a med-tech and digital health fund and wanted some consumer expertise, happy to oblige!), and so spent a good chunk of the morning preparing for that.
After that, it’s back to back calls for a while. To give you a sense of what these calls can look like, here you go: a reference call for a friend interviewing at venture funds, chatting with the CMO of one of my portfolio companies to discuss PR strategy, a weekly check-in with the founders of another portfolio company, catch up with a banking partner to discuss a potential debt line for a portfolio company, and a call with corporate counsel to discuss some legal matters for a portfolio company. After the calls, I’ll probably squeeze in a run (so many calls and sitting still!), and then work on the main priority for today: diligence for a company my partner and I are bringing in on Monday.
My day ends “early today” (around 5) as I have to head to dance rehearsal (I’ve been an Indian classical dancer for most of my life) for the wedding. I often get charged with choreographing and planning dances for friends’ Indian weddings :) Dance rehearsal will be followed by showering and getting dressed for the first of many wedding events!
Thanks for having a read of yet another atypical week in the life of me! I love my job and most importantly, love who I do it with. I have great partners and great founders and value the trust they place in me and the opportunity to do this every day. It’s truly an honor to be in this service industry, to partner with visionaries who are changing the way people live their lives for the better. As a woman in venture I’ve found the relationships and sense of other women who’ve “got my back” to be so powerful and only amplified through organizations like All Raise. When I first joined venture, I got an amazing piece of advice from Rebecca Kaden, she encouraged me to gather a group of other women who were starting in venture around the same time as me, set a monthly dinner on the calendar, and grow together. I’m glad to say that we did that and have gone from just “work friends” to “friends friends” over the last four years. Venture capital, despite all its glamour and glitz, is a weird industry that doesn’t have a straightforward path or a clear way to success. Having a network of people who are rooting for you is critical, and I’m so glad that All Raise facilitates just that for founders and founders.