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It’s Human to Collaborate
Building startups is a delicate balance of inviting the right talent, partners, vendors, advisors, colleagues, investors, and customers to…
Building startups is a delicate balance of inviting the right talent, partners, vendors, advisors, colleagues, investors, and customers to the dance at the right time. Over the past three years, it’s been exciting to watch the New York tech ecosystem develop into a gravitational force of nature.
But it wasn’t always this way. One of our advisors, Daniel Dubrouvkine (CTO, Artsy) spoke to how the entrepreneurial ecosystem has evolved:
When I finally moved to New York in 2004 from Seattle there were just a handful of startups and limited support. In that environment companies had to collaborate more than compete, which in time created an incredibly cohesive startup ecosystem with tremendous positive energy and an unprecedented level of openness (in striking difference with Silicon Valley). In the next ten years this environment will be multiplied by the fact that New York has representation of every kind of business on the planet to become the largest and most impactful tech ecosystem in the world.
At Human, we understand that it takes a village (a very large one at that, here in NYC) to succeed, which is why everything that we do — from building a studio space, to hosting open door events, to investing in our Human Network — is geared towards creating a tight system of collaboration. Each of these unique opportunities affords us an opportunity to gain feedback from and create value with our peers.
One of Human’s greatest assets is our wonderful advisor network, a dedicated group of industry leaders who are committed to being hands-on with our portfolio and serve as far more than just impressive names on a website. Every single one of them spends several hours each week working through the most pressing questions and opportunities for our Human companies. In addition to mentoring our portfolio CTO’s, Doubrovkine recently spoke in an intimate studio gathering on his experience building Artsy’s engineering team and practical advice on hiring and building a robust, sustainable and — most importantly — inspiring engineering culture.
Another strong advisor to our founders is Jeremiah Zinn (Chief Product Officer, Freshly) who serves as a sounding board on consumer product ideas. Through whiteboard sessions, testing feedback and more, Zinn brings his experience from building product at large companies like Ericsson, Viacom and MTV to leading product at startups like Bark and Freshly where he built the product from the ground up. He looks to encourage Human founders to optimize product for quick, nimble builds rather than being overly concerned about features at the outset. Zinn’s advice to founders based on his experiences is to keep it simple by asking the following questions:
How can I really quickly get customers into the product?
How can I solve a lot of the issues that they have?
How can I bring them back regularly?
But our Human collaboration isn’t limited to our studio and advisor network. We’re also focused on building bridges across the NYC ecosystem. Our quarterly founder dinners (co-hosted with the incredible Randy Adler at Fox Rothschild) along with our involvement in the All Raise Female Founder Hours is our commitment to fostering the next generation of New York founders. In the last year, we also dove headfirst into the area of diversity and inclusion, when our VP of Network Alessandra Henderson joined peers from seven other leading VC firms in New York, including RRE Ventures, Union Square Ventures, ff Ventures, FirstMark, Thrive Capital, Corigin Ventures, to found NYCBlend. What started as a smaller initiative quickly snowballed into a movement of 88 New York venture capital firms. As an ecosystem, we’ve joined together with leading VCs across New York to launch a series of events that focus on increasing education, awareness and practical advice to change the status quo. In April, Human was proud to host an event featuring an incredible series of speakers including Alexandra Wilkes Wilson (Founder, Gilt Group), Lisa Skeete Tatum (Founder, LandIt), Jovain Zayne (Founder, Jovain Zanye), and many more leaders from the local ecosystem. Leveraging all 88 of the VC firms’ collective networks is a great example of how collaboration can greatly increase an initiative or organization’s impact through collaboration.
Advisor Network, Founder Dinners, Female Founder Office Hours, NYCBlend. These are just a handful of ways that Human has invested in Collaboration in the last year. Across the firm, we’re true believers that collaboration is not only vital for startups to scale and to incorporate diverse insights, it’s also incredibly valuable on an individual founder level.
As we continue to see entrepreneurial ecosystems progress, I believe what will truly set New York City apart from the rest is collaboration, ensuring that every step that we take is not stepping on one another but marching towards collective success.