We just launched our new podcast In Depth to share super tactical startup advice

To all the founders wondering
what makes us different----

To all the founders wondering
what makes us different----

To all the founders wondering
what makes us different----

Browse around a few VC websites these days and you’ll notice that they all start to sound the same.

They all say we partner with remarkable founders. We believe in the power of

Check out our original pitch deck from 2004

technology to change the world. We back exceptional companies from the very start. But that hasn’t always been the case. When we started First Round over 15 year ago, seed-stage investing wasn’t yet a thing and most doubted it would stick around. Founders-turned-investors were odd balls. And a “Platform Team” that provided services beyond the check was a new idea. These days, a Platform Team is table stakes. Every VC out there promises access to individuals and networks that set founders up for success. Even multi-stage and mega growth firms now dabble in seed-stage investing, backing companies that are no more than a couple of people with an idea.

But talk with a few First Round Founders and they’ll tell you how we’re different.

They’ll tell you that we know how hard and lonely the startup journey can be, and how we’ve helped them evolve from a great founder to a great CEO. They’ll explain how we equipped them to build a better company by focusing exclusively on those first couple of years — in part because we’re simply not an option to lead their Series A or B.

Browse around a few VC websites these days and you’ll notice that they all start to sound the same.

They all say we partner with remarkable founders. We believe in the power of technology to change the world. We back exceptional companies from the very start. But that hasn’t always been the case.

Checkout our original pitch deck from 2004

When we started First Round over 15 year ago, seed-stage investing wasn’t yet a thing and most doubted it would stick around. Founders-turned-investors were odd balls. And a “Platform Team” that provided services beyond the check was a new idea. These days, a Platform Team is table stakes. Every VC out there promises access to individuals and networks that set founders up for success. Even multi-stage and mega growth firms now dabble in seed-stage investing, backing companies that are no more than a couple of people with an idea.

But talk with a few First Round Founders and they’ll tell you how we’re different.

They’ll tell you that we know how hard and lonely the startup journey can be, and how we’ve helped them evolve from a great founder to a great CEO. They’ll explain how we equipped them to build a better company by focusing exclusively on those first couple of years — in part because we’re simply not an option to lead their Series B.

Our community in action at Summits and Retreats

They’ll tell you that we believe in working sessions when you’re just getting started — jam sessions where we go deep on a topic, instead of stuffy board meetings. That their First Round partner is the first person they text and call, their coach in the corner — and the kick in the ass when they need it most.

The inside story of how this startup turned a 216-World Pitch email into a $2.6 billion Acquisition.The inside story of how this startup turned a 216-World Pitch email into a $2.6 billion Acquisition.

 

Felicia from Binti will explain how partner working sessions helped her navigate the pivot from a consumer app to government-facing technology. They’ll say that we’re always willing to share our unvarnished opinions, but they also know they have our unwavering support. The founders we’ve backed will rave about how we helped them land their most important hire, position the company and write their sales playbook. Filip from Verkada will tell you that we introduced him to an amazing co-founder in Hans. Just like Stephanie from Boulder will tell you that we connected her to her co-founder Dave. Irving from Bowery will recall fondly how we acted as his head of marketing early on, working side-by-side to brand the vertical farming company for success.

Three people crossing a riverA moment from our recent Founder Retreat

 

And Looker’s founding team will happily share how they honed their sales pitch with their first 20 customers — which were all other First Round companies. They’ll all likely mention that we share the best tactical advice to help other entrepreneurs to do the same via the First Round Review.

They’ll mention that while “community” gets thrown around a lot these days, our efforts to connect founders across First Round companies have built their most valuable set of peers. They’ll tell you that our Founder Retreat was “the most valuable professional event I’ve ever been to (hands down).” That this group of their peers not only helps them tackle tactical topics, but also provides a sense of belonging.

A before and after example for our Pitch Assist Team

They’ll tell you that our CEO Salons aren’t just founder dinners, they’re painstaking designed events to connect with and learn from other CEOs going through the tough stuff. As Kareem from Clay put it, we give founders space to “grapple with existential concerns around the values they are choosing for building their company, what success means to them and the ultimate value of their work.”

They’ll tell you how crazy and all consuming raising capital can be and what a difference Pitch Assist made. How this dedicated Series A capital team helped them craft a compelling narrative, set the right strategy and build a visual presentation that got the job done. They’ll tell you they never thought they’d spend 50 hours perfecting their pitch, but that this fundraising bootcamp is a big reason why 80% of First Round-backed companies “graduate” to Series A (compared to an industry average of 31%).

They’ll tell you that their hardest job is building and managing a stellar team, and that we don’t just serve founders as individuals but the rest of their teams too. They’ll explain how Fast Track (our three-month 1:1 mentorship program), and Manager Track (our training program for first-time managers) are custom-built just for their employees. They’ll tell you how much their teams benefit from Network, our custom-built software that allows for connections with thousands of others from across every First Round company. Daniel, the head of finance at Lob, will tell you how being the only finance person at the company felt isolating and how Network helped him sharpen subject-matter specific skills and build relationships with other like-minded people.

They’ll tell you that we’re obsessed with quality and constant improvement. That, like all great founders, we start small and iterate quickly. That Fast Track started off by pairing a small group of mentors and mentees together and hoping they’d get together to learn something over the course of a quarter. It’s now a program that serves over 1500 people who meet regularly with structured learning and development programming. 83% of mentees say it changed the trajectory of their careers.

Most importantly, they’ll tell you that we do the right thing, even when it’s hard. That we believe in long-term thinking and if they end up shutting down the company, we won’t be out there trying to get $0.10 on our dollar. In fact, they know that we might very well be the first check into their next startup.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Heck, it’s hard to explain how we’re different when every vc website says exactly the same thing. Luckily for us, founders don’t say the same thing about every VC.

Sincerely,
Team First Round