FinSMEs, a news blog about financing for small and medium enterprises, recently interviewed Fenox’s Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) Tom Maxim on the roles Associates play in venture capital firms. Maxim highlighted the importance of Associates as decision-makers and gatekeepers to the General Partners of the firm.
“If you look at any organization, the CEO always has someone they listen to or tap into for advice,” said Maxim. “From my experience, this person has always been a younger and more junior employee like an Associate.”
Maxim went on to describe how Fenox’s Associate and Analyst program is disrupting the traditional VC model. “We hire undergraduate and graduate students from top universities to help us source the next generation Instagram or Twitter of the world. The analysts at our firm are the same age as Mark Zuckerberg when he created Facebook or Sergey and Larry when they co-founded Google. To us, hiring people who create these products, use these products, and are the ones who are first adopting these products made sense.” Fenox uses a democratic and transparent approach to investing, empowering each Associate and Analyst to vote on the firm’s investment decisions.
Maxim’s advice to startups is to not underestimate the power of Associates. “They (startups) live in a world without titles where the CEO does anything from fundraising to taking out the trash. But if you are a startup that insists on a meeting with a partner, consider that you may shoot yourself in the foot. VCs typically have few levels of hierarchy and associates have frequent face time with the partners. So associates can often become your best salesman.”
For complete transcript of the interview, please visit this link