Lessons learned at LA Tech Week 2022

By Yelena Shkolnik

This week we joined our friends at March Capital, 3L Capital, and Stripes to host a panel for LA Tech Week. While most of the week’s programming was centered around founders operating at the earliest stages, we focused a panel on the challenges of scaling well beyond product/market fit and the first few hires.

Stellar panelists joined us for the discussion: Joe Ferencz, CEO of Gamefam, which recently raised a $25M Series A round; Armen Ajemian, CEO of Disqo, had just raised an $85M Series B; and Alexander Israel, CEO of Metropolis, which was coming off of a $167M Series B.

With their companies ranging in size from 200 to 2000 employees, we had a chance to cover managing culture as they scale. In short, the message was to cling to your values. With all members of the panel making strategic investments and leveraging M&A to grow, we heard how critical it was to know your strengths, to abandon any combination that threatens culture, and to keep a concrete perspective on what makes a combination accretive.

It was impossible to ignore the macro, so we covered it - each panelist has increased transparency with their teams, knowing their numbers have never been more important. They unanimously discouraged a founder from listening to generic guidance directing them to hoard cash or keep 24 months of burn. Instead, they encouraged every company to think about the money they need to achieve their milestones and concentrate it there. On the fundraising front, there was optimism that partners would find strong companies - even in this environment, though the numbers won’t match 2021.

Intriguingly, for all the marketing VCs do around their platforms and relationships, this panel unanimously wanted to partner with investors who understood their businesses and their markets and could be counted on to be dedicated champions of each founder’s unique goals.

When asked about their biggest mistakes, all panelists encouraged intentional and thoughtful hiring and an appetite to rethink their team and themselves as they scaled.

It wouldn’t be reasonable to wrap an LA Tech Week panel without asking our panelists what they've found amazing and challenging about the city. The amazing part? Incredible people, varied skill sets, and unique strengths. The challenges? Salary inflation. There you have it.

See you in 2023.

By Yelena Shkolnik

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