This month marks my one-year anniversary at Cap Horn.
As an Ecosystem Manager, I develop strategies and events to build a strong sense of community amongst our network, comprising of portfolio companies, limited partners, business and technology experts, and our network of corporates. Specifically, within our founders, I have paid particular attention to their journey and how to make myself useful. And most importantly, how to help them be useful to one another.
But what is the best way to do so? Well, there are plenty of simple, effective online tools you can use, e.g. a WhatsApp group with all your founders. That worked for us. Then, you start monthly CEOs breakfasts where you define specific topics. They meet at each other’s office and discuss key topics that matter to them, such as best practices for recruitment, sales ops, tools…
During the summer, I went on a trip to London to meet with other VCs and I heard about the benefits of doing a Founders Retreat. Back to Paris, I set up the date right away, thinking it would be great to end the year by gathering all of our founders together for a day of learning and sharing.
Our first Founders Day took place at Cite Fertile in Pantin – an ephemeral, up and coming venue located on the former Pantin railway station.
After breakfast, we kicked off with Critizr CEO Nicolas Hammer, who shared with us his key learnings raising a Series B from a prime foreign VC. Then, SimpliField COO Jonathan Attal shared his experience expanding to the US and opening an office in New York. Both Q&A that followed the sessions allowed us to witness the value of sharing. This is all the more true as our portfolio companies share the fact that they are all B2B SaaS or platforms solutions, at similar growth stages.
The real challenge of planning a day like this is to make sure you give them as much value as possible by combining workshops, networking opportunities, connections, whilst leaving room for spontaneity! The focus of the day was mostly on Go-to-Market strategies and US Expansion. We were also lucky to welcome Vincent Belliveau, EMEA President of Cornerstone On Demand (NASDAQ: CSOD) who shared his journey from Series A to IPO. We also invited Christophe, a former Team Leader at elite police tactical unit of the French National Gendarmerie for 17 years, to discuss what team alignment and management under pressure really means!
On top of those sessions, you definitely want to give your founders time to connect, and therefore need to plan a few breaks, a cool lunch and an eventful dinner, during which we did not forget to celebrate all the latest fundraisings, as well as one of our Partner’s birthday.
The feedback we received for that day was just incredible! Founders certainly feel less lonely facing those day-to-day issues that they experience in their day-to-day entrepreneurial life.
The main goal was to create a stronger sense of community amongst then. In the end, they told us they felt they were part of a family! Their question was only when the next edition will take place?
Well, I’m already working on the next one in 2020.