We've interviewed dozens of founders for a new series on product-market fit.

Julien Blaney

Partnerships Manager

I’ve dedicated myself to building spaces and creating relationships that encourage folks to feel valued, supported, innovative and empowered to work with others. I started my career at the Aspen Institute, spending five years working in roles where that approach served me well in the stewardship of two very different groups. I’ve worked in fundraising, driving efforts to help our donors see themselves as true partners to the work of the programs they supported. I’ve also collaborated with a group of locally-focused leaders, called Weavers, to cultivate and grow a nationwide community of folks who understand that building authentic relationships is the way to address our country’s social divide.

In both experiences, I learned a great deal about the power of building meaningful connections with others to drive dynamic and transformational change. I bring this mindset and spirit to the Partnerships team at First Round where I support founders looking to change their communities and the lives of generations of people to come. I’m driven to meet their ideas with curiosity and thoughtfulness. I’m committed to creating a space where they will be received by a community of customers, advisors, and other partners who want them to succeed. I fervently believe that the success of this tremendous First Round ecosystem depends on our ability to grow and support underrepresented founders and others who have faced historical barriers to entering the venture space.

I have been shaped by my past experiences at the Aspen Institute, studies at American University as a Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholar, and upbringing in Montclair, NJ. where a village of family and friends showed me what authentic relationships look like. Understanding the power of one’s story, I’m eager to meet folks and learn about the unique paths they’ve chosen. Admittedly, connecting with new people is also an excuse for me to share my love for soulful music, storytelling, and Knicks basketball.