Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!
Today’s your lucky day! Instead of getting 1 awesome person, you’re getting 7. Yes, you heard me right!
Here’s what’s in today’s special edition ❤️:
Introducing the Talent Accelerator graduates
Community learnings from running an online cohort-based class
A treat to help you sleep (hello wellbeing!)
Drum roll please... introducing the Talent Accelerator graduates 🤩!
Today is the last day of the Talent Accelerator and our graduates are flying. Of the 10 participants, 7 of them have launched publicly and we’re proud to share them with you here. They include alumni from Github, One Medical, Reddit, Spotify, AngelList, Tesla, and other world-class startups.
Let me know if you want intros to any of these folks and I’ll connect you via email!
Amanda Shareghi - Your Interim Head of Communications and PR Strategist
For early-to-mid stage startups, she’s your go-to for launches, funding announcements, thought leadership, and developing standout storylines. She’s managed international launch strategies and PR for venture-backed startups funded by Upfront Ventures, IVP, Sequoia Capital China, Accel India, Blackbird, In-Q-Tel and Main Sequence Ventures.
Kate Segrin - Your Social Media + Content Marketing Guru
Recently, Kate built GitHub’s social media presence from the ground up. She established their brand voice, analytics, and pioneered their live event coverage. Before that, she ran editorial for Product Hunt and led marketing for several seed-stage startups. Her sweet spot is Series B+ startups. She’s been an absolute joy in the accelerator. You can get a sense of her vibe in essays she writes for fun here.
Lauren Margulies - Your Interim Head of Ops for Healthcare Cos
Back when I launched Video Visits at One Medical, she was the Eastern Regional VP of Ops. She’s also worked at CityBlock and DaVita. Today she works with high-growth healthcare cos to grow provider teams, expand into new markets, launch new services, and ensure quality care. Fun fact: Lauren lived in Rwanda many years ago, which seeded her interest in healthcare.
Noam Cadouri - Your Business Development Consultant
Small world! Noam and I worked together at my first startup out of college! Since then, he’s gone on to work with Reddit, Quora, LiveRamp, and others. He helps companies launch BD teams and design partnership programs. Most recently, Noam designed and managed programs that drove $100M+ in revenue. A little known fact about Noam: he holds a master’s in counter-terrorism & homeland security. He also loves to bake bread.
Q Zhang - Your Product Advisor
Q is currently leading the first Growth product team at Mailchimp. She worked with Google, BuzzFeed, Spotify, and Splice prior to that. She focuses on international GTM product strategy, localization, and revenue-driving SaaS products for Series A+ companies. Outside of work, she loves to cook and dress up her cats with weird pet costumes.
Randa Sakallah - Your Interim PM and Product Lead
She was the first product hire at AngelList Venture and is now at Otis Wealth (Series A Fintech co that’s raised $14.3M). We met via Tommy Leep, a friend and climate-tech angel investor, who loved working with her at AngelList. At AngelList, she drove millions of dollars to AngelList’s investor platform by optimizing their conversion funnels. Randa mostly works with Series A to Series C startups. Outside of work, Randa is an avid surfer and occasional freestyle rapper (yes, it’s true!).
Tracy Desmond - Your HR and Total Rewards Consultant
We met Tracy through a friend on Sequoia’s talent team. She was at Box pre/post IPO and helped Tesla scale from 15,000 to 40,000 employees in 2.5 years (holy heck!). Now she works with early stage startups who are selling into employers - think employee benefits, healthcare, financial literacy, perks, wellness, and mental health products. She helps founders understand the employer space, positioning, and pitching buyers. Tracy also provides HR consulting and 1:1 coaching and mentoring.
Want intros to these Awesome People? Let me know and I’ll make them!
Community and content learnings 🙏
Many of you also have community, content, and education baked into your products, so Patrick (my awesome co-founder) and I wanted to share some of our learnings with you here.
To set the stage, the Awesome People Talent Accelerator was a 10 person, 7-day cohort focused on helping talented people kickstart their freelance careers. Each day, we met from 5-7pm PT. We interviewed and screened all the candidates to make sure that they were a good fit. We only accepted people that we thought would be successful. The program was $1850 and we offered a money-back guarantee based on people landing their first client. After all, we only win if they win.
5-7pm PT is ideal for US live-zoom events programs (outside of work)
We surveyed all our applicants and this was the top choice. Notably, forming relationships is a key part of the program so we needed people present. We had to turn down folks in Europe and those traveling abroad.
Speakers and breakout rooms drive the most engagement
Each day we focused on a different topic which included speakers, a structured presentation, and breakout rooms, in that order. Consistently the highest-rated parts of the day were the speakers and the breakouts. In the future, we may try a fully flipped classroom and make all the presentation content video homework.
As the Zoom hosts, we learned that popping in and out of the breakout rooms keeps things exciting. If you’re hosting, don't just sit back for 30 mins and wonder what the conversation is like. Join in and participate 😀.
If you’ve taken any amazing courses that we can use as inspo, we’d love your insights.
Get speakers who can hold a room
The top-rated speakers were all-star presenters and storytellers. Not necessarily the ones with the most raw knowledge. Zoom fatigue is real. People who can hold an audience and inject energy into the “Zoom Room” are key. The same way there’s a spectrum of teacher engagement in school, there’s a spectrum of speaker engagement on Zoom.
NPS surveys help refine on the fly
Every day we asked people for feedback. Early on we learned people liked the breakout rooms more than we thought and we made a point of leaving more time for them. I think consistent NPS surveys throughout any user journey (courses, products, etc), are underrated. It’s helpful to know what people are thinking and feeling throughout the course.
Set Zoom norms upfront
We could have done this better. In the future, we’ll explicitly ask people to keep their videos on and normalize eating on calls (after all, this is dinner time for some folks). This seems small, but it really changes the energy in the “room.” In person, it would be weird to wear a face mask to a speaker series, this is what it feels like when people turn their video off. We course-corrected after receiving feedback.
Provide homework to keep things moving
Homework enabled us to condense the program into 7 days vs 2 weeks for similar programs. Participants liked the homework (and some asked for more!), and the homework content provides fodder for breakout rooms during the live sessions.
That’s all for this week ✨! If you want an intro to any of these awesome people, let me know!
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P.S. A Job, Sleep, & Recent Awesome People ✨
Do you know a technical contract recruiter
Community, the text-based community platform that’s raised over $35M, backed by Salesforce.com and Aston Kutcher’s VC, is looking for a contract-to-hire technical recruiter. They’re growing like crazy and this is an amazing opportunity to hop on a rocket ship. Please forward this to anyone who you think is a good fit. Happy to connect them with the hiring manager!
We have treats! All about those Zzzzzzzzzsssssss!
Last week Elizabeth, our Awesome People feature, mentioned that sleep was one of the most important factors of success. We took that to heart.
Shuni,* a pre-seed sleep startup, backed by Better Tomorrow, is giving us all access to their sleep therapy and coaching programs at cost. You can check out their services here and testimonials here. Big thanks to Jingyun, Shuni’s founder and CEO for hooking us all up with these promo codes!
Code: awesomesleeptherapy Discount: $60 off (per week) for 5 weeks of therapy services.
Code: awesomesleepcoaching Discount: $80 off (per week) for 5 weeks of counseling services.
*Full disclosure, I’m not an investor, I just think sleep is cool.
Most recent Awesome People 🙏
Elizabeth - Executive performance coach. She comes highly recommended by Atlas, one of the top founder coaching companies that I trust. Elizabeth works with founders to lead less stressed, more sustainable lifestyles, and widen their definitions of success.
Jason - Fundraising coach. He's a trusted advisor in the LA startup community and Silicon Valley Bank’s go-to-partner for fundraising coaching.
Let me know if you want intros to any of the people above and I’ll connect you!
❤️ ❤️ ❤️