Getting to Know Our Network: Elizabeth Weil
Village Global Network Leader
Elizabeth Weil brings perspective as an operator, corporate development leader focused on M&A, and venture investor. She offers expertise to founders on the journey from inception to scaling and evaluating exit and liquidity options. We’re delighted to have her help source, support and invest alongside Village Global as a Network Leader. Below are a few questions we asked Elizabeth about the VC landscape, what gets her to “yes” and lessons learned while helping Twitter scale.
You’ve worked at a few different venture firms over the past decade. How has the venture ecosystem changed over the last 10 years? How has it changed what it means to be a VC today?
Over the last decade, I think the influx of new venture capital firms has raised the bar when it come to what it means to be a VC. Many firms are providing more support to founders and early teams when it comes to the skills that it takes to build a world class company. I think it remains important to channel the “teach to fish” mentality though to founders and growing teams.
How do you evaluate entrepreneurs? What gets you to yes?
I love hearing the personal story behind starting a company. I think many of my best investments have been when the founder has a particular reason for starting a company or some personal superpower that makes this the team to attack this problem in the world.
What’s the most important lesson you took from your time at Twitter that you share when advising founders?
I was so fortunate to join Twitter at a time when the company was tiny, and on the brink of hyper growth. I don’t think I’ll ever be at a place where I experience that again. There are countless things that were never part of the “job description” that you experience when you are at a company undergoing expansion and development at such a breakneck speed.
If I had to name my most-favorite part of helping scale Twitter, it would be something that I never knew would be my job. Over a decade ago, as my side-job and hobby, I started a letterpress stationery business (Paperwheel.com). When Twitter was about 50 employees, I started creating “welcome cards” for every new employee. I would chase Biz and Ev around the office each week, so they could sign the new-hire cards. We’d leave these at the desks of the employees starting each week. Over time, my passion project at Twitter became what I called “make a big company feel small.” We scaled from 60 employees to 310 employees in a year, and then on to 2600 people in less than four years. There are so many “little things” that can be done to wow employees that cost little money. On-boarding is a critical part of scaling; it’s one of the ways you show you’re paying attention to the people that make your company run. I love this mentality when thinking about how it pertains to culture and company growth:
One quote that echoes this is:
“95% of my company assets drive out the front gate every night. My job is to bring them back the next morning.” -Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS
The second-most important part I learned is about patience and change. When you are at company undergoing growth, job descriptions and company needs change. People can be a perfect fit at a certain point at a company, and perfectly wrong at a different point in time, even in their same role. Be cognizant of when it is time to make changes.
What’s the most common mistake you see when working with early-stage entrepreneurs when it comes to fundraising?
Do your homework up front. Fundraising can be an extremely laborious process. Look at it like a typical sales funnel. Know who you should be targeting from the start. Cull that funnel early, and spend time with the firms that are more-likely to invest in your stage and type of company. Also, do your homework on the people. There are a variety of connection points to a single VC firms, and how you come into the firm can definitely influence the progress and decision there.
Thanks for reading!
Stay connected with Village Global on: