CC007: the rise of platform in venture capital // a Coffee Chat with Stephanie Manning (Lerer Hippeau)

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Stephanie Manning: 00:00:00

It’s okay if we pass on a great company is it wasn’t right for us. It wasn’t the right valuation. Timing didn’t work, but it’s not okay if we never saw it, especially if it was in New York. So our goal is really to see every early stage and seed stage deal that happens in New York City. So what I love about Lerer Hippeau is the platform team technically as part of the I team, the investment team, so we sit in on every pipeline meeting, every partner meeting, we contribute new companies, we contribute our feedback on things. I think that one makes for a more diverse feedback loop, but also enables you to see more companies.

Jay Clouse: 00:00:33

The startup investment landscape is changing and world class companies are being built outside of Silicon Valley. We find them talk with them and discuss the upside of investing in them.

Jay Clouse: 00:00:46

Welcome to upside. Hello. Hello, hello and welcome to the Upside podcast first podcast finding upside outside of Silicon Valley. I’m Jay Clouse and I’m accompanied by my co host, Mr. Ninety minute Uber ride himself, Eric Hornung.

Eric Hornung: 00:01:14

The 90 minute uber ride. It is there. I don’t know if there’s anything worse than landing in Newark and having to go to the upper east side in rush hour and that’s what I did last night, getting into New York City. I’m here for a wedding also to do a little bit of work and man, it is just like for being the best transportation system in the United States. It is terrible.

Jay Clouse: 00:01:40

Is the flight from Cincinnati to New York about 90 minutes. It’s probably about the same time that you were in the air, right?

Eric Hornung: 00:01:44

Yeah, it actually is. If there was an easier way to get into New York City, like my total travel time from Cincinnati to New York would be cut in half, but it is so hard to get into the city unless you do the JFK route. Actually talked to Monique via about this via tweet because she was only via via tweet. How about that?

Jay Clouse: 00:02:04

Ah, Monique via tweet,

Eric Hornung: 00:02:06

Mo. Monique via tweet. Shout out to Monique via from modern capital, but she was coming in New York and she said kind of the same thing about how hard it is to get into manhattan. Once you get to an airport, So I gave her some of my hacks. The problem is I don’t generally go to the upper east side and when you do, of my hacks fall apart.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:27

Well, welcome back to the big apple and speaking of the big apple, our guest today is from the big apple. Also.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:36

Look at you such a tourist calling it the big apple.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:40

Where’s the big easy. What’s the big easy.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:42

Isn’t that new orleans?

Jay Clouse: 00:02:43

Yup. You’re right. That is the big easy.

Eric Hornung: 00:02:45

Yeah, and there. There’s a bit cheesy too. I think it’s in Wisconsin.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:48

Is that appleton?

Eric Hornung: 00:02:50

Maybe? I don’t know.

Jay Clouse: 00:02:51

I think that might be appleton, Wisconsin,

Eric Hornung: 00:02:53

Wisconsin. Shout outs and

Jay Clouse: 00:02:56

I have. No, I can’t back that up. That might not be
Eric Hornung: 00:02:59

I think we’ve made that up.

Jay Clouse: 00:03:00

That could be true. Let’s. Let’s get a fact checker on the show like they have an armchair expert, but today we are speaking to Stephanie Manning, who is the director of platform at Lerer Hippeau. Lerer Hippeau Is an early stage venture capital fund based in New York city. They seek entrepreneurs with product, vision, consumer insight, focused execution, and unwavering ambition when they are lucky enough to meet such people. Their hope is that they will choose them as a longterm partner. Lerer Hippeau has about 300 companies in its portfolio. Very legitimate looking portfolio, including companies such as all birds, axios, glossy, a giphy, everlane, seatgeek, warby parker, soylent buzzfeed, and that’s before I hit the see full portfolio button on their website, so they’ve partnered with a lot of great companies in a short period of time and we’re completely off my radar. Eric, I’ll be honest. Had you heard of Lerer Hippeau before we got the intro?

Eric Hornung: 00:04:03

I had not heard of them to the extent that when we first got introduced to Lerer Hippeau , I had no idea how to pronounce the words. I’d only seen it on an email.

Jay Clouse: 00:04:16

We were pretty close though and our first guest.

Eric Hornung: 00:04:21

not me,

Jay Clouse: 00:04:21

But this was. This is an exciting introduction to get more excited to share this interview with you. Director of platform, which is Stephanie’s role is not a super well known or wide trend yet as we talk about. So excited to share this with you and then break down that interview a little bit at the end

Eric Hornung: 00:04:40

we will see you guys after the interview, but before we jump in, jay, where can people interact with this episode?

Jay Clouse: 00:04:47

Yeah. While we’re going through this, guys, remember that you can tweet at us @upsidefm. Let us know what you think. Anything that stands out from what Stephanie is saying, anything that we missed or questions that you wish you would’ve asked. We’ll make sure that Stephanie gets a hold of those and we can answer those, but we’d love to hear your reaction as you’re going through the episode so you can tweet at us @upsidefm and if you’re listening to the show on braker, feel free to comment on the episode right in line at the time stamps as well.

Eric Hornung: 00:05:13

All right, let’s jump in.

Eric Hornung: 00:05:16

Hey guys, wanting to cut in here real quick and let you know about something. Jay and I have been getting ready behind the scenes in 2019. When we started this podcast, Jay and I said that you, the listener, will have an opportunity to learn in real time to think like venture investors with us as we meet a wide variety of personalities, examined a wide range of industries. Well, now we’re going to share something new and it’s a little different. This new idea is called the update. It’s a carefully curated quarterly publication of editorials, trends, and stories happening outside of silicon valley. Jay and I will be writing stories about what we’re learning about on the podcast. Have guests editorials on interesting topics and share news and updates from our co’s. In some cases, we may even share some exclusive content or first looks. Our goal is to stay at the cutting edge aNd of course bring you along with us. We’re super excited about it and know You’re going to love it. If you want to be the first to hear about our q one launch in subsequent letters, go to to get on the mailing list.

Jay Clouse: 00:06:26

Stephanie , we’re so excited to have you here. Can you take us on a brief tour through your career and getting you up to your current position?

Stephanie Manning: 00:06:36

Yeah. I’ll try to. I’ll try to make this quick. But I went to colgate university, which is a liberal arts school, studied political science. Thought I wanted to be a lawyer, had worked in nonprofits through all my internships and any type of extracurricular activity on campus. And I love the nonprofit space. I loved how scrappy it was, um, how quickly things move. But I realized that it was really hard to, one get things done without funding and there were a lot of constraints there and it was really hard to move up without a higher degree and I didn’t think I was quite ready to go to grad school or jump into something like that before actually entering the workforce. So when I started interviewing, I was interviewing all over the place that I was interviewing at banks and marketing companies and stumbled across an opportunity at a coMpany called app nexus, which I think everyone is super familiar with now. But at the time I had no idea what it was. Um, and when I interviewed and went tO the office, I just loved the startup atmosphere. I felt super uncomfortable in a skirt suit, but love that everyone seemed super smart. Everyone was learning from one another. Everything was moving really quickly. And junior folks, we’re growing really fast so it had a lot of the qualities that I loved from nonprofits but also had a lot of the things that the nonprofits were lacking. So I started my career there. Was there for two and a half years on the campus recruiting team and happened to be there at a time when the company grew from 300 to 1100 people. So there was a corridor that our talent acquisition team hired. Our goal was to hire 90 people in a corridor and we actually hired like 93 and got 93 balloons. It was awesome, but it was hyper growth mode. It was a really great experience. But for the end of my two and a half years there, I didn’t want to get pigeon holed into campus recruiting. I had this, oh my god, I’ve been working for so long moment, even though it was only two and a half years, so I started to explore other things and I came across a role at a company called work bench and it was for a community associate role and it was pretty vague title, but when I started to read the job description it have a lot of the qualities or qualifications that I was doing my current job, so it was about community engagement which I was doing a lot of with our interns and full time campus hires. It was events which I was doing a ton of both at college campuses and at the office and it also asked for some liquid talent background, which we can get into more later as to why talent is important for platform folks. So I acTually bypass the application process and I just sent them an email directly because I was so excited about the job. They got back to me, interviewed there, got the job and left app nexus in November, 2015. I was at work bench for a year and a half leadIng a lot of the community and event stuff and also starting to build out their talent are which at a venture firm can mean so many different things, so I’m not sure if you are familiar with work bench, but it’s an enterprise technology venture capital firm here in New York city that is also anchored by a coworking space and physical community for enterprise tech folks in New York.

Jay Clouse: 00:09:40

Real quick question to cut in there on your workbench history, small world moment. Did you overlap with Allie Felix while you were there?

Stephanie Manning: 00:09:47

I actually did not overlap with Allie . Allie actually replaced the role that I have left, but Allie and I became friendly very quickly. We actually chatted a lot during her interview process when she was relocating from the bay area to New York city and we continue to stay in touch. I know she was on the show as well, so yeah, Allie ‘s amazing and such a great community builder. So is there for a year and a half and that someone had reached out to me who was at Lerer Hippeau and said, hey, we’re hiring for this director of platform role, we’d love to interview you. are you interested in, you know, Lerer Hippeau is the top one of the top firms in New York city, super well known. He’s a great track record, great investments, much bigger fund and also invest across all categories, which was something I was personally really interested in exploring is kind of going outside of enterprise tech and also seeing how you invest in consumer and ecommerce and digital media. So join the Lerer Hippeau team in April, 2017 as their director of platform and have been there ever since. I currently have a team of three right now. So the platform team has definitely evolved in the past year and a half that I’ve been there.

Eric Hornung: 00:10:55

When you first applied for this director of platform role, did you know what it was?

Stephanie Manning: 00:11:00

I think I did because I think the. You could say that my work bench role with technically under the platform team, we called my title went from, you know, community associate to talent and community manager, but I think that it fell under that platform umbrella. So I definitely had a good sense of what the role meant. But the truth is that every firm platform is different. So you can’t ever say, oh, it’s exactly gonna be the same. I was also lucky enough to be part of this great group called the vc portco keepers that used to be hot when people call themselves the keepers to the portfolio, but now it’s vc platform community which is a little more professional and it’s just basically all platform folks and all these different firms, you know, brainstorming together, sharing best practices because sometimes it’s like the blind leading the blind because we’re all trying to figure out what is this vc platform, how do we define success and what should we actually be doing and measuring.

Eric Hornung: 00:11:53

So can you take us maybe for our listeners Who aren’t as familiar with platform, it’s different at every firm, but there has to be some sort of core components to it. what are those core components that make it platform versus something else?

Stephanie Manning: 00:12:08

Yeah, I think all vc platforms in a nutshell are your post investment support and services for your portfolio companies. So I think that’s the common thread for all of them. I think what that means that every firm differs, but I think there are about six key buckets or verticals where you either see people have titles that include that specific vertical or you have this broad platform title. So I can walk you guys through those buckets. The first is events. Some vc firms you know crank out a ton of events, work benches’ one of those. We hosted 200 events a year in our space. So events was a really key component to our platform. Community I think is woven through all of this. But some folks focus only on community. So how do you build your network of advisors, of founders, of folks to hire into your companies of customers? So community can mean different things, but that’s another bucket. The third bucket is talent and recruiting. I’m sure as you guys know, startups always ask for help with hiring and talent. There’s always a war on talent, so to speak, that people say whether it’s the bay area or New York or people are hiring outside those areas to get remote talent. Talent is a big place where people were platforms focus and I see a lot of that on the west coast actually. So the west coast firms, you see a lot of talent partners who are very senior people, so take home brew for example, hunter walks firm, it’s hunter, it’s satya, and our third partner is back who is a 20 year recruiting veteran, did executive recruiting at salesforce and google and that 13, so they don’t have a general platform person, but instead of talent partner, another area is business development and customer engagement, corporate development, whatever you want to call it. That andreessen horowitz is a great example of a firm that does this really well. They have a corporate development team that cranks out a ton of executive briefings where they’ll bring in the office of the cio from a major fortune 500 company that will come and listen to, you know, 10 startup pitches in a day and then hopefully pilot with those companies. I think it’s eAsier to do that at a firm where you have one investment area focus like an enterprise tech for example, and a smaller portfolio. I think andreessen horowitz is an anomaLy there, but they also have a huge team that is able to support that. And then another bucket is marketing and pr and press, so that can take so many different forms. We actually have someone at lerer hippeau. I’m natalie sportelli, who’s our brand and content manager. She joined us from forbes and she focuses on Lerer Hippeau’s brand helping place our partners and our team at events speaking opportunities like this podcast, but she also helps consult our portfolio companies on things such as their fundraising announcements, how to pitch, but she doesn’t necessarily serve as like the pr person that’s pitching a forbes fast company, a tech crunch instead. She’s more so serving as a consultant to our companies.

Jay Clouse: 00:15:10

Real quick on the marketing pr front, is that more so for the benefit of Lerer Hippeau , the business or for your individual portco’s?

Stephanie Manning: 00:15:19

So I’d say it split. I think our philosophy is if Lerer Hippeau has a good brand or portfolio companies Will get a good brand in our portfolio. Companies have a great brand that gives us a good brand. I think it’s really, it relates to one another, so we kind of split it, but I do think a lot of it. We always say that we are not majority owners of our company so we are not going to run our companies for our founders in stenberg, a consultant advice, so I wouldn’t say that natalie is sitting with companies four days a week, telling them how to do their brand marketing, but instead taking one hour phone call, to walk the founder through, okay, these are the three areas you need to hit for your fundraising pitch in order to get the story picked up because this is what reporters are interested in. Not just the fact that you raised $3,000,000

Eric Hornung: 00:16:09

With all of these, I’ll call them services, are these more push or pull, so are you actively reaching out to people in your, almost as called it a portfolio, which is what we call it an upside in your portfolio or are they reaching out to you? How does that initiation start?

Stephanie Manning: 00:16:29

Really a mix. I think that your platform ebbs and flows based on the companies that you’re servicing at the moment. For Lerer Hippeau, we’re seed stage, venture capital firm, and we mostly invest in New York city, so a lot of our services and our activities focus around what are the challenges founders and their teams are facing from seed to series a and then what is really New York centric as well and that’s kind of how we plan a lot of our things, but it definitely changes as different founders come into the portfolio at that seed stage. But I’d say a lot of our programming is stuff that we have separate our founders or with expected of us, so it’s not as much as they. We hope that we caN provide it before they even need to ask for it. So an example is a lot of our companies were asking abOut digital marketing services, so we actually had a company come in and do a, you know, digital marketing 101 because at the time the makeup of our portfolio, not a lot of the founders came from a marketing background, um, and at the time it was a lead them in a cofounder and no marketing person. So it’s definitely a mix of that, but we also look to the portfolio to see what we should be hosting next. That’s really where the origin of me hiring two folks, one in talent, one in brand and marketing came from was we survey our founders at the end of every year and the two things they asked for help on the most was one, hiring and talent and to pr and press. So we kind help fill those needs with full time people that are focused on those two verticals.

Jay Clouse: 00:17:53

Before we dive deeper into this, I wanted to catch up real quick. Our verticals you’ve named. We had one events two community, three talent recruiting four business development, corporate development, five marketing and pr. I think there was a six that you had right that I didn’t get to.

Stephanie Manning: 00:18:09

I always call this. This takes like miscellaneous bucket of just like general best practices and people to know when you’re building your company. So again, going back to Lerer Hippeau , investment philosophy at the seed stage, what are companies looking for? TheY’re looking for branding agencies to work with, so how do we have the right connections at places like red antler so we can make an introduction for our companies easily and they don’t have to go through this due diligence process and try to boomerang around and figure out who they know. How do we know people at the right, You know, web development firms because they don’t quite have a softball software engineering team to build their website. How do we know The right pr people to introduce them to that can help pitch their fundraising announcements. So that’s a lot of our job too. I call her team dot connector, so we don’t always have the answer for everything. We can’t be subject matter experts in every single thing it takes to build a company or else we’d probably have built a 100 of our own companies by now, but instead it’s our job to help connect our founders to the right people and take a lot of steps out of the process for them.

Eric Hornung: 00:19:08

So talking about dot connectors, just thinking about it kind of from a math side of things. You were at work bench, which Chad, I don’t remember how many investments off the top of my head, but now lerer hippeau has something like 400 investments and however many portfolio companies. Does iT get exponentially harder to maintain that community or is it something where once you have the infrastructure in place, you can scale it very rapidly?

Stephanie Manning: 00:19:33

I think the community shifts, and this goes back to a point I made earlier about how no one platform and community is ever the same work bench had a team portfolio companies but also service this broader enterprise tech community in New York city through their space. So not every company that worked in this space was part of the portfolio. So that was a really interesting dynamic of how do you service people who are portfolio companies versus potential or future portfolio companies. I wouldn’t say it gets harder, it just gets different. So for us, we don’t have a physical space so we rely a lot on like our online community. We have a founder’s forum that has continued to get phenomenal feedback from our founders. And what’s amazing for me to see is that not only do I see seed stage companies asking questions there, but I also see responses not only coming from our series a and series b companies but from a really late seed series b companies that have a thousand employees, multiple offices and you know, multimillion dollar run rates and they’re still taking the time to respond thoughtfully because they feel like they’re part of a community. So I just say it would definitely. It definitely gets different and you have to think I think in a different way about what tools do I have, what am I doing and how do I keep people engaged as Time goes on

Jay Clouse: 00:20:48

this platform role. Can you give me your understanding of the history of this role? Like how long has this been around in? Why did it start?

Stephanie Manning: 00:20:57

So I think there are different renditions of the story. I remember someone saying that like when venture first started, there was some idea of this value add. I actually see it as platform has really evolved in the last maybe five to six years. I think companies or firms that are known to their platforms. Do you think of andreessen horowitz, but the business development side of things you think of first round and their content. So in the last five years I think a lot of firms have been coming about. Money has become almost a commodity. The founders, two great founders I should say. So I think a lot of founders have been saying, well you’re giving me money. You’re coming to sit on my board. I’ll see you once a quarter at board meetings, but What else are you providing For me? And I think there’s always been this value add service from partners, but I think as you invest in more and more company is it’s hard for partners to do all of that. So that’s where thIs evolution of the value add team came about and that value ad team took on the name of platform. So I remember when I started at work bench, I met up with this vc portco keepers group and it was 10 people at a bar getting drinks and it was someone from our e and d cg and Lerer Hippeau and work bench and first mark and usb, but now all of the sudden there are a hundred people that got together every single year from not only New York but all over the country really all over the world to come together because every firm has hired a platform person because it’s no longer a nice to have. I really think it’s become a must have or five.

Eric Hornung: 00:22:28

When you say all over the country and all over the world, can you elaborate on that a little bit more? Like where are you seeing people coMe from?

Stephanie Manning: 00:22:34

We’re seeing people come from, I mean the west coast is, you know, nothing new, but I think we’re definitely seeing people. Chicago is another big area that’s coming about. So lindsay night out of chicago ventures in a really active member of the vc portfolio keepers group. We’ve seen people come from different areas of boston. I believe there are funds wherever there are venture funds popping up there, most likely platform people popping up. Allie is a great example of someone coming, you know, starting a new community in tampa and is a huge member of the group. And then in terms of international, we’re seeing a ton of different firms. So you see firms who have an international arm, so insight venture partners is a great example of that. They have a huge london presence and their community is different there because you need to know different people there. You know, london companies aren’t depending on the same resources that New York and san francisco companies are. Redline ventures is another one that’s based in the uk. Um, so we’re seeing firms from all over, which is really exciting.

Jay Clouse: 00:23:31

It seems to me like there’s an opportunity, this is just a hot take on my part, but seems like there’s an opportunity for the platform people to create sort of a super platform. Is that something mean you guys obviously have this, this, this group you’re talking about this director of port or this, uh, this portfolio keepers group is a super platform something that would be viable and valuable or is that something that steps on the natural competitive benefit of having a platform team for a single firm?

Stephanie Manning: 00:24:01

That’s somethIng we ask ourselves a lot or like what joint resources can we share so that we’re not doubling work for each other because at the end of the day all of our goals are to one help founders build their businesses. And a lot of times we have overlap in our portfolio companies and two help our tech ecosystems grow and continue to grow. So I think there are a lot of shared things in terms of a super platform that we’re starting to do. So one great example is a joint vendor database. I think a lot of individual firms have their top vendors to work with, but how do we kind of mind meld and put everything together so we actually are getting the best vendors. I think there’s a lot that we can do in terms of compensation surveys. How do we actually get all of our portfolio companies to participate in things that ended up helping one another. How do we actually benchmark around that? But I will say there is not that they’re frenemies but they kinda, you know, you’re competing for deals with people, but I do think that there’s more collaboration that can happen on the platform side that is happening. You think about the investment side. An investor’s share deals all the time. No one firm is going to write a full check necessarily. They’re going to get co investors. They’re seen deals are sharing, you knoW, their companies with series a shops and series a, shops series b shops. So it’s really more of a collaborative community than people give us credit for I think. But I think that there’s still more to do on the platform side, Whether it’s hosting events and cross collaborating on founders that are specific area. So I think there will definitely be more to come. Again, thiS community is pretty new. I would say it’s definitely taken off the most in the last two years, so I’m excited to see what comes in the next two, three, five years.

Eric Hornung: 00:25:39

It’s a weird balance because you need collaboration and competition. I’m curious, I don’t think we’ve stated explicitly, but how does Lerer Hippeau define their competitive advantage or dIfferentiator on the platform space?

Stephanie Manning: 00:25:55

It’s about the platform, but I think it’s also about the team and how the team dictates the platform. So we are a team of operators. That is our background. We are business people. You look at our founding and managing partners, ben Lerer Kenny Lerer , and eric hippeau. They’ve all run Super successful compaNy is kenny cofounded, the huffIngton post at Arianna eric, who was the ceo of ziff davis was managing partner at softbank. He also headed up the havington pose. Ben is currently building group nine wall being a managing partner at Lerer Hippeau . So that’s really where our deep expertise is and you look at the rest of the team and it’s also a team of operators who come from very specific functional backgrounds across marketing and sales and business development. so that’s kind of how we like to pitch our platform, like we’re gonna do everything with you and consult with you as to what you need to do to get from your seed to series a. So whaT business kpis you need to hit, what people do you need to meet, what things do you need to learn, what customers do you need to engage with? So I think that’s where we focus a lot of our platform stuff. And then in addition to that we play it to the advantage of our numbers. So lIke you said, we have about 250 active investments right now. And I think over the course of our eight years of being around, we’ve invested in about 350 companies. That is an immense power in numbers where we have about 500 active founders as part of our groups and community right now. People like people’s jaws drop when they hear 300 companies because they’re like, oh my god, how do you even plant a platform around that, but I really do think things like our founders summit where we get all our founders together and our founders, you know, google groups were folks share best practices and knowledge and then we break it down into smaller functional stages and stages of fundraising to bring people together who are just seeder. JusT series a really helps us differentiate our platform from other funds.

Eric Hornung: 00:27:49

You mentioned kpis for the businesses themselves. I’m curious how quantitative this director of platform role has gotten and are there I guess kpi’s that you look at, so whether it’s like an apathy percentage were founders aren’t taking advantage or it’s like pr infused clicks when they used your pr systems or event attendance as a percentage of portfolio companies. What do you guys look at to say we’re being successful from a numbers basis?

Stephanie Manning: 00:28:17

that is the magic question that every platform person asks themselves that whenever I connect with new folks who are new to the platform role, they always say, well, how do you measure yourself? And that was a question I ask everyone. Coming from a recruiting background that’s data driven and quantitative. It was reaLly hard. I think for us at Lerer Hippeau our biggest measure of success is founder happiness, so how do you measure that? We actually do that in a full end of year survey where we measure an nps score, which is would you refer layer hippo to another early stage founder and they rate it on a zero to 10, but what we take from that is our founders are our best source of deal flow. The best companies that we’ve gotten into, the most successful companies that we’ve invested in have mostly all come from founder referrals. So that is criticaL to our business and ourreturn. So that is a big thing of measurement for us, I would say in terms of, you know, natalie on the content and brand side and amanda actually recently joined us from injuries and horowitz on the talent side. So she’s kind of leading that talent function. We’ve broken down their roles to be a bit more quantitative than this general platform role. So for amanda for example, it’s how many companies per quarter is she working with? How many people is she placing? how many candidates did she connect with, how many new candidates that she get into our talent tracker? So it’s easier I think to break it down for this specific functions and natalie side, it’s how many blog posts are we pushing out? How many impressions are we getting on what across, you know, twitter or media or instagram, whatever social channel we’re focusing on that quarter. How many speaking engagements is our team taking part in? So I think you have this like macro, our founders happy with your platform, do they find it useful and then you can kind of break each function down on the event side. You know, I think it’s always a best practice to after an adventure center four question survey, did you meet someone new? Did you learn something new? Would you attend something like this again and what do you want to see in the future? Like if someone says yes, yes, yes to all three. That was a great event and sometimes it’s really hard to take yourself out of the day to day of hosting all these events and maybe a 20 person breakfast doesn’t seem super impactful or like it’s moving the needle, but you don’t know if that cto who’s attending the breakfast at a certain company two years or three years later who might be founding his own company and you’re going to be top of mind for him as an investor. So I think where you can be quantitative, it’s important, but I do also think playfrom people sometimes drive themselves nuts to measure every single thing where you kind of look at the investment side and a lot of investors aren’t making data driven decisions. They’re making decisions based off of some data, but also off of what you call, you know, your gut, your heart, and you know, investing in people that you really believe in. So that’s how we think about it at Lerer Hippeau

Jay Clouse: 00:31:03

Now that you’ve been doing this for close to two years and the team is involved with three people of those verticals you named off, where do you find yourself focusing most of your time?

Stephanie Manning: 00:31:13

So I think I spend a lot of my time on that, you know, external dot connector. Who in the New York ecosystem do I need to have a close relationship with? So it benefits our portfolio companies. So I think that’s a mix of other vcs whether their platform posts, operating partners, whatever it may be. It’s a lot of the vendors that our companies are asking for introductions for. How do I make sure that I’m staying on top of new ones as well and not just kind of sticking with the top five we’ve had for the last five years. It’s attending a lot of, I think community events. How do we continue to tell the story and make sure that folks know about us and it’s also continuing to build the team, so this is my first time managing actually, so it definitely takes when you’re an individual contributor and a manager, it’s definitely an interesting way to split your time because I know that at large companies sometimes when you’re a manager, that’s all. That’s all you do. You manage people, you remove roadblockS. It’s definitely been an interesting shift for me to be an ic, but also in a management role

Jay Clouse: 00:32:16

working at Lerer Hippeau , working at a prominent venture firm in New York and putting on a lot of events that a lot of people attend. How often do you have to deal with inbound, hey, will Lerer Hippeau invest in My company, and what’s the process you do for escalating that are sifting through that?

Stephanie Manning: 00:32:34

I’d say our whole team gets a lot of that. Especially I think ever since natalie came on, we’ve been ourselves out there so much more in the best way. We’ve been attending a lot of events, speaking a lot of panels, and from that there’s a lot of inbound for us, we like to evaluate every company that comes through and look at every company because we always say it’s okay if we pass on a great company. It wasn’t right for us. It wasn’t the right valuation. Timing didn’t work, but it’s not okay if we never saw it, especially if it was in New York. So our goal is really to see every early stage and seed stage deal that happens in New York city. So what I love about Lerer Hippeau is the platform team technically is part of the I team, the investment team. So we sit in on every pipeline meeting, every partner meeting, we contribute to companies, we contribute our feedback on things. I think that one makes for a more diverse feedback loop, but also enables you to see more companies. Um, if I’m speaking at events and companies are coming up to me afterwards, I get to share those. So we have really seamless communication channels there. We have a general investment team at google group that enables us to share deal. Someone will always look at it and if it’s not a fit, it’s not a fit, but we really do try to look at every single company that comes to us from these events

Jay Clouse: 00:33:46

with so much of that inbound and wanting to look at all of these companies. I’m sure tHere have to be some quick heuristics that you guys use to quickly say like, do we think this looks like a fit off the top of our head? Do you know what some of those things are?

Stephanie Manning: 00:33:59

Yeah, I mean, first of all, we don’t invest in competitors who up with any current portfolio company. so with 250 active companies that actually helped things out and as we continue to invest we continue to see overlaps. That’s one thing, but another thing is just stage. So we really do try to target the seed stage. We aim for about 10 percent ownership, so I think there’s a numbers game that happens there. Whereas if a company’s raising too much money or too little money and our check size is usually 500 k to a million and a half, I think seed stage investing has definitely shifted. It’s become a lot bigger. I think, you know, everything’s getting bumped a little bit, but we still try to do that seed stage investment. So I think that also means is the product in a place where it’s been somewhat tested. If it’s an enterprise company, do they have some early traction? But we never say. We always say it’s never too early to at least engage with us because there were companies that we’ve met two years ago and we are making the investment now. So those are just some markers that we use. We’re also, you know, looking for companies that we say we invest in people, product and ideas. So kind of thinking about is this a product that’s, you know, focusing on one problem right now or is it kind of looking to the future of like, okay, this is our product Now, but we see it being these five different offerings in the next three years because we know this is where it’s going to go. So those are some markers that we use. Seed stage investing is hard because it’s not as numbers driven or data driven. So sometimes You, you know there are great investment or not so great investments, but you do your best to kind of sift through and make the deCisions you can.

Eric Hornung: 00:35:38

I’d like to transition over to ecosystem specifically the New York ecosystem. You’ve been involved in iT for a number of years now. Can you talk about how New York has evolved in the time you’ve been involved from appnexus through now? I mean you can’t even touch on what the difference between manhattan and queens and brooklyn and all of that is if you want.

Stephanie Manning: 00:36:00

It’s really crazy to think about. But I’ve been in New York tech ecosystem for five and a half years now and I think that if anything it’s grown and flourished and kind of adjusted to the issues of the times. I think diversity is one of the best things that New York has. I think we have diversity of thought, diversity of industry, so many diverse people. Um, you have folks who aren’t just in tech and I think that that has definitely helped, you know, as the tech industry is growing, you get these subject matter experts who are coming to build these companies in specific verticals. So I think that’s been really interesting to see. I think a lot of people are choosing to build their companies in New York for that specific reason. So we have a ecommerce company that is doing exceptionally well and I know they just hired there for like a first product had that has former experience at chanel and was a buyer at sac. Then you don’t get that in the bay area. You get people who want to work in fashion here in New York. And when those ecommerce companies can hire them right after they’re done with that, I think that’s really valuable and I think a lot of the outer boroughs, like you mentioned, are starting to become tech hubs. I think brooklyn specifically, you see the brooklyn navy yard starting to build out a lot of companies having coworking spaces there. I actually know of a, you know, someone who used to work out of the work space is building a maritime focused startup in the brooklyn navy yard. So I think we’re seeing starting to see a lot of that. We’re starting to see, um, I think a lot of the universities take on more specific hubs. So you have cornell tech that is starting to become a new hub for innovation for companies. And why you, I think always has been. Columbia is another one.

Eric Hornung: 00:37:42

What’s missing in New York? What, what’s the next kind of step?

Stephanie Manning: 00:37:46

Nothing. No, I do think that there’s always, we always feel constraint for engineering talent and product talent. I do think we’re starting to see more folks willingly leave the bay area for New York, but the bay area at the end of the day has a ton of the big tech companies where people are ready to leave the googles, the facebooks, they have New York presences but not as big as the bay area one and they ended up going to bay area startups, but I think that we’re starting to see more folks were open to leaving the bay area, coming to New York. I also think it’s great that amazon’s coming to New York. I think that will mean a new flood of talent. I think we’ll see a flood of people going to those, uh, going to a company like amazon and then after maybe two to three years when they’re ready to leave, hopefully they’ll filter back into the New York startup ecosystem and I think it will just be better for everyone.

Jay Clouse: 00:38:33

Is there enough activity in New York that Lerer Hippeau pretty much just stays within the New York. Or you guys look outside of New York?

Stephanie Manning: 00:38:40

We look outside of New York, so our portfolio breakdown is about 65 percent. New york city based company is about 30, 25 to 30 percent bay area and los angeles and then we have a remaining five to 10 percent that’s kind of sprinkled throughout. We’ve actually been pretty active in Canada the past few years to Toronto and montreal and vancouver, so I think we’re also interested to see that because we haven’t really invested outside the us quite yet and then we have a company sprinkled throughout other areas. We have austin, we have san antonio, south carolina’s one. So I think for us it’s more about finding the right boundaries, the right ideas, the right companies than just a specific ecosystem. But for us our roots are in New York and I think we find that we can be most helpful and have a very big impact on our New York companies.

Jay Clouse: 00:39:30

WhaT does a company that’s outside of New York that wants to be in that five to 10 percent? What do they have to do to get on Lerer Hippeau radar.

Stephanie Manning: 00:39:37

So I don’t think it’s that they have a lesser chance of getting to Lerer Hippeau . I think it’s just like the types of companies that we’re investing in also happened to be in New York. I think for us, the best way to get on our radar, I think, you know, getting a warm introduction to us also just reaching out to us. So we have contact at Lerer if folks are building companies looking for seed stage investment, sharing note with us, I don’t think it’s that the companies in those areas need to do more, but it’s also just like a networks in fact type thing. So we are in New York or out in the ecosystem or speaking at events or attending events. We’re meeting more of those founders. So I think if companies can find other ways to network with us, we love when companies come to us through our social channels. So we’ve been super active on instagram but especially twitter and medium. So, um, I think that’s another way that companies can get in front of us without physically being here in New York.

Eric Hornung: 00:40:31

So I want to bring this back to the idea of pLatform. you mentioned earlier that one of the most critical things that you guys have are warm intros specifically in New York. You also mentioned tHat your presence is only online, so unlike workbench you don’t have a physical space. So I’m curious because you are concentrated in New York and the majority of the platform community seems to be concentrated in the bay area and New York, which are. I’m making an assumption here, but mostly I’m guessing their portfolios are also concentrated in those two areas. Do you think that this platform model can expand to communities maybe in the midwest where the breakdown is more 15, 20, 15 percent? They don’t have a solid focus in one city. Just curious on your thoughts.

Stephanie Manning: 00:41:20

Yeah, I think platform is possible for any firm. I think it’s just thinking about who am I serving, so our founders are our customers, what do they need the most and how can, how can I best execute on that? For us here, we found that the digital ways work really well, but we also host small dinners and we’ll go on almost like mini tours where we go to san francisco for a couple of days and then we’ll go to la for a couple of days and we make sure that our founders know about it way in advance, so founders who aren’t necessarily look like headquartered in those areas but need to travel there for work and save up their travel schedules with our events that we’re hosting. So I definitely think that Vc firms throughout the whole country can be, you know, executing on a platform. I think again, it just means different things at different firns. So I know a lot of firms rely heavily on slack for their community engagement steps and that’s another great way to engage folks who are concentrated in one area. I think having one annual event that all founders can attend is great. That’s something we do every year. We listen to annual ceo summit that our founders know about way in advance. They plan client meetings around it and they really plan to be there because it’s a great way to get everyone together. So yeah, I definitely think it’s possible.

Eric Hornung: 00:42:33

Do you guys go to montreal or vancouver or toronto?

Stephanie Manning: 00:42:37

We haven’t yet. We actually need to plan a trip up there. Um, I’m a little nervous to go there in the winter though. I know that I went to colgate and it’s really cold there, but I feel like canada is a whole another level. But yeah, we’re actually looking to plan a trip there as well.

Jay Clouse: 00:42:51

You’ve come along way and it seems very distant from this nonprofit world you are so passionate about at the beginning. How do you feel about that?

Stephanie Manning: 00:43:00

I feel like it’s been a crazy ride the past five and a half years. If you asked me when I was graduating college where I would be in five years, I would never be able to say venture capital. I thought you could only get into venture capital if you were had your mba or you were a former founder and sold your company for millions of dollars. So it’s been a really exciting ride. um, I feel really grateful to work with people who are building amazing companies and I’d say that I love finding ways to stay engaged with the nonprofit community in different ways. So for example, we worked closely with girls who code last year to help sponsor some of their events. We continued to help donate to their, cause. We work closely with raised by us, which is another great nonprofit that enables early stage companies to allow their company, their employees to contribute some of their paycheck to a charity of their choosing. So yeah, I guess we’ll see what happens in the next five years. I wouldn’t say that like nonprofit is totally, you know, out of my life. I think I still care about it deeply. So we’ll see how I can blend the two.

Jay Clouse: 00:44:02

Real quick, I want to slide this into the New York city ecosystem question. When allie was on, we asked her to kind of compare and contrast your experience in the bay area versus New York. And something that came to mind pretty much immediately for her was how welcoming and growing the New York city ecosystem was for women in vc. Has that been your experience as well?

Stephanie Manning: 00:44:22

Definitely. I think this goes back to one of two diversity being one of new york’s greatest strengths. I think especially for women in tech. I wrote this when a lot of the stuff happened at towards the end of summer 2017 with a lot of stories coming out about vcs and tech companies just not being healthy environments for women. I. It’s crazy that I say I feel lucky that I’ve never been in those bad situations because that shouldn’t be the case. No one should be in those situations, but I really do. I find that there’s a lot less ego here in New York and I finally found that I’ve only worked with super supportive men and women who have been nothing but you know, professional in their experiences with me. I would say that New York I think has a lot of organizations and communities that help women in tech and women in vc. So there is a women in vc group that actually hosts quarterly dinners and it’s amazing to see how many women work in the vc world. There are groups like parody partners that help bring folks together or emerging leaders, current leaders and experienced leaders. I think there’s a lot going on and I think that New York is definitely a super supportive ecosystem for that. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, um, but it’s something that I’m super grateful for.

Eric Hornung: 00:45:38

I’ve never heard there’s less ego in New York. That was, that was a new phrase for me.

Stephanie Manning: 00:45:45

Yeah. I think there’s a different kind of ego but not that many ego that ever has made me feel lesser than my male counterPart.

Jay Clouse: 00:45:53

Stephanie, is there anything that we’re not asking, whether it relates to vc or platform or anything else that you think is super important in this industry or something that you’re seeing?

Stephanie Manning: 00:46:03

I mean, the question I get a lot is how do people get into vc or how do people become, you know, platform people. But I think vc is sometimes a very elusive, mysterious industry and it is hard to network and I think that there are a lot of groups doing things to change that, to make it more open and inclusive and more diverse. So that is one thing I get asked a lot. We’re actually currently writing about that right now about how to, you know, get into vc and crack the code on that application process because vcs don’t hire the way startups do. We don’t scale from 50 people to 100 to 500 to a thousand our numbers are pretty stagnant and we usually only hire when we need to backfill or we raise a new fund. So I would definitely encourage anyone who’s listening, who’s interested in getting into vc to checkout our medium. We wrote a general post, my colleague alyssa isabelle, who’s on the investment team, just wrote a post on how to join an investment team that I am about to write something on how to become a member of a platform team.

Eric Hornung: 00:47:04

And I have one final question before we sign off. If people are interested in getting involved in the New York ecosystem, what would be the three things you suggest they do in their first couple months?

Stephanie Manning: 00:47:18

I’d say attend as many events as you can. I think events can be hit or miss, but I think that if you can leave an event, even if you shook hands with 30 people, but you meet one great person, you never know where that relationship is going to lead you or how that can help you to get out there and network as much as you can. Work bench actually host great events. Um, if you’re interested in enterprise tech specifically, they were so great. New york enterprise tech meetup and had really impressive speakers. I’d also say nyc blend is another initiative that I’m personally invested in that is helping to bring more transparency and diversity to the New York tech and vc ecosystem. So definitely check out one of their events. I think it’s really great networking. So yeah, I would definitely say that networking and attending those events and reading a lot. I think that I love twitter because I think that what I find most interesting about twitter is I get to read what people I think are interesting, our reading, so I would say definitely get yourself a twitter start following people you think are interesting, see what they’re reading and start educating yourself just about the ecosystem trends, industries, things like that.

Jay Clouse: 00:48:21

Great. Thanks so much stephanie. If anyone wants to learn more about you or Lerer Hippeau, where would you direct them to?

Stephanie Manning: 00:48:28

I would definitely direct them to our website, just Lerer Hippeau. Com, l e r e r h I p, p e a u and then I would definitely encourage anyone to subscribe to our daily roundup. Natalie does a great job of writing a daily newsletter monday through thursday. We’d give her fridays off because that would be cool and that is all tech news, industry news and portfolio company news and it’s a great way to stay engaged with us. And then I would also encourage anyone to follow us on twitter and instagram to see what’s going on with our portfolio and our team.

Eric Hornung: 00:49:02

So jay, we just spoke with Stephanie Manning, director of platform at Lerer Hippeau. That company seems so impressive and it just shows, I think, how much we have to learn in this space that we didn’t even know about them before this interview.

Jay Clouse: 00:49:19

One hundred percent. I also think it speaks to some of the layers of advancement that the coasts have on communities outside of valley. Of course, every firm that we talked to inside the coast wants to provide value to the founders outside of money, but I don’t think they feel that poll from the competitive standpoint as much as affirmed like Lerer Hippeau does. It seems like a lot of the firms who have this platform role that’s explicit are doing so because they realized they need to innovate and compete with some of the highest level deals that are looking for real value ads outside of capital.

Eric Hornung: 00:49:57

Did you use layers there as a double entendre?

Jay Clouse: 00:50:01

I’m going to say yes,

Eric Hornung: 00:50:04

I agree with that. I think that it is a new way to think about venture capital. I, I’ve, I’ve thought about this before when I’ve read the histories of silicon valley and a 16 z, the way that they differentiated and she even mentioned them in this interview was by treating venture capital as venture capital as a service and I think that the platform role seems to be the natural extension of that idea, which was kind of pioneered by andreessen horowitz,

Jay Clouse: 00:50:36

venture capital as a service vc ass,

Eric Hornung: 00:50:39

the vcs. I liked that.

Jay Clouse: 00:50:44

Yeah, I’m with you. And uh, it was interesting that she talked about, uh, the recently brought over a woman named amanda from andreessen horowitz on the talent front for Lerer Hippeau. I’ve always been told that andreessen is such an innovative firm from the talent standpoint, how they engage with their companies. I know that when I was at cross checks here in town, venture backed company, our head of resources, including hr and hiring, spoke a lot with a woman who worked at andreessen in the space. It very well could have been this amanda woman that they hired. And so I like this. I really like this platform concept. You know, she broke it into six verticals for us events, community talent recruiting as a single one business development and corporate engagement as a single vertical marketing pr, the single vertical and general best practices, people to know in the space. it seems like there is such a wide open space of where you could be spending your time as a director of platform and building the platform that even with a team of three, which most firms won’t have for quite some time. Tough to prioritize where you spend your time.

Eric Hornung: 00:51:52

I’m curious on your thoughts because I asked her directly and I’m going to ask you directly, do you think this director of platform role can work at something in the midwest?

Jay Clouse: 00:52:04

I think yes. You know what I’d like to see as a model instead though in the midwest in the interim, I think that there are people who operate in ecosystems, and this is very personal to me because I would put myself in this camp in the recent past. I think there are people that operate in communities who play platform role for the ecosystem that have absolutely no financial incentive to do so, and those people are linchpin People who eventually get burned out and move to a larger different ecosystem and I see it ecosystem ecosystem. I’ve talked to eric weisman at cintrifuse about it because he’s seen it as well. A lot of times these communities champions are what really help an ecosystem grow because that individual is the platform that connective tissue for a lot of founders to people coming into the ecosystem, whether it’s talent or events or community organizations and it’s a pretty thankless job that takes a lot of time and you’re just not incentivized whatsoever. So in the ecosystems outside of the coast, I would love to see almost a director of community, which is sort of a director of platform role that is collaboratively funded by corporations, startups, a coalition of the willing, which is another eric wiseman term, to incentivize some of these people who are doing this important work to keep doing it. Do it at a higher level. Even spend more time on it because no one can like do it full time since there’s no financial incentive and stay around.

Eric Hornung: 00:53:36

Maybe this is my ignorance, but isn’t that kind of the role of jumpstart and rev one and cincy tech and I feel like every city has their own incubator. We learned about like launch nashville and we learned about like, isn’t it, isn’t it? We’re talking with starrco and memphis. Isn’t that kind of their mandate?

Jay Clouse: 00:53:56

They definitely do part of it. I don’t think that’s their mandate. I think their mandate is to be a fiduciary and so I think they do parts of that, but I think by design they can’t do that as well as a neutral third party. Grassroots organizer could do it because they also have a fund and an agenda.

Eric Hornung: 00:54:16

Got it. So what you’re, what you’re advocating for is kind of what I think about this model is this idea of like pooled research, uh, where you have for companies who all give to a research institute and whatever percentage they give, like that’s how much of the ip they’re allowed to pull out. And thEre’s some sort of agreement like that this would be a outsourced director of platform for a community that’s sponsored by the venture capitalists in the community.

Jay Clouse: 00:54:50

Venture capitalists companies themselves could be the city, but people who already have the relatIonships like I think I think of platform in that sense really as community and ecosystem building.

Eric Hornung: 00:55:00

So my, my counterpoint to that and something that stephanie brought up, the director of platform role seems to be a point and executing on the director of platform rolls mission, which for Lerer Hippeau is those six verticals seems to be a point of differentiation. If you’re pooling that. How are you differentiating at all?

Jay Clouse: 00:55:23

That is why I don’t think it’s funded by the venture capitalists nearly as much as it will be funded by the companies themselves. Because if you look at it from tHe platform role as a vc. Yeah, it’s a competitive advantage as the differentiator is part of your business. If you look at it from the part of companies, somebody who’s doing this work and creating this connective tissue. As a founder, I don’t care if it’s a differentiating mark for this venture capitalists, I care if you are helping me connect and accomplish my goals as a company, that’s what’s valuable to me. If my investor is the one doing that, great, fine, I’ll take it, but I think someone who’s doing that work for the companies in the ecosystem and not specifically for one portfolio of companies is super, super valuable for the ecosystem. Not necessarily for anyone, individual venture capitalists, but since I don’t think we see the platform role in these cities yet anyway, I think that’s more immediately useful because the density is lower and the need for those firms to compete as much, much lower. All the, all the capital firms in town and these smaller ecosystems are saying, we want more venture capital firms in town.

Eric Hornung: 00:56:35

Yeah, that all makes sense to me on a hypothetical solution basis for the midwest. I want to jump back into what we have learned in this interview and as the platform role exists today. Kind of talk a little bit more about that. So I think that this is kind of more in your wheelhouse because you’re a full time job. Do you call unreal your full time job?

Jay Clouse: 00:57:03

My full tIme focus,

Eric Hornung: 00:57:04

full time focus. Look at you using such hipster words, you’re kind of like the director of platform for unreal. One hundred percent. I’m curious if you had any parallels between your experience with unreal and the things stephanie was explaining in the interview

Jay Clouse: 00:57:25

for sure. I mean when you have a community and ecosystem around your business, you want to continue to be adding value outside of whatever the main thing is that you’re, that you’re providing, you know, in my case with unreal, I have a 12 week program, 12 week accelerator program that through the program. That’s really where I’m focused on driving the value is like week to week, let’s make sure that you’re getting what you need out of these calls. But during that same time and then after the program is over, I continue to try to help these people, whether it’s sending them an opportunity to work and get a free osu student athlete intern for the spring. You know, that’s something I sent to them, whether it’s working with hubspot to get resources at a discount or for free for startup companies, whether it’s lining up a free meeting with an accountant who’s going to help them with their books and then ultimately probably become their accountant if they’re just starting their business. I’m always looking to find more and more resources that are valuable to the companies and you know, as long as looking at the price tag of what I’m doing and for me it’s literal cash. For a vc company, it’s the equity you trade in. How are they adding in the platform elements of value to their decision as to whether or not that price tag is worth it. So I say that all the time. I do much fewer events but allow the stuff she talked about community, business development, corporate engagement, marketing and pr best practices, people to know that stuff that I’m living day to day.

Eric Hornung: 00:58:51

So are you going to attend this platform conference in New York next year?

Jay Clouse: 00:58:56

Maybe. We’re pretty far geographically from that. You know, I was thinking the whole time during this and I asked the question about like what’s a super platform look like and what would that mean? Because to your word of archipelago archipelago that you see in communities across the country and you know, our conversation with monique via about what they’re doing with modern capital and the breakdown we had after that episode of low to look like for a modern capital work with a company in the southwest and the northeast and and build this super white. We can call it a super platform, but really sewer platform is what we’re talking about. I think there’s an opportunity to build connective tissue in that way, but I think inherently when it comes from vcs, it’s still good, but there’s less. It narrows the scope of what that platform is going to do and how it’s going to collaborate. Since it is built in such a way that it’s a competitive advantage for the firm that has its own agenda.

Eric Hornung: 00:59:54

I agree. It’s there’s such a balance in creating community, a balance of ego and agenda, a balance of the right person and personality to like capture the spirit of the community. It’s a really. I think it’s a really hard thing to create and that’s why when you do create a community like just look at reddit is a, they’ve redesIgned it a few times, but in its traditional format it is an ugly, pretty hard to understand, pretty hard to use website, but they created a community and if you ever read alex ohanian book without their permission, he says like the same thing. He’s like the first 50 people on reddit created the community and we just carried it out and I think that’s why like communities are persistent and they’re sticky and that’s what the vcs are trying to do. They’re trying to create a community and I think that’s what we’re trying to do an upside too, right.

Jay Clouse: 01:00:47

100% and I don’t, I don’t want to be damning of the platform role at all. I think it’s great. I think it’s a very smart move. I think it’s super helpful towards the companies. I am a huge fan of it. To your question of could it work in this part of the country where there’s lower density? Probably. I think it’s. It would be less of a intense role than what stephanie has at layer hippo and I think that if you were to redesign the benefits that our platform provides to companies and the implementation of how you deliver that, there are other models that might work here in the midwest a little bit better.

Eric Hornung: 01:01:21

Got it. Well, jay, do you have anything else for me?

Jay Clouse: 01:01:24

No, I think that’s it for this episode. I’d love to hear your thoughts guys. Tweet at us @upsidefm. Let us know what you think of the platform role of Lerer’s 300 company portfolio. If you take a look at that, I recommend looking at it. It’s pretty impressive fit. Any thoughts on anything that stephanie said? Tweet at us, and if you’re listening to this episode on breaker, of course you can comment directly on his episode and we’d love to talk with you there. That’s all for this week. Thanks for listening. We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s guest, so shoot us an email at, or find us on twitter @upsideFm we’ll be back here next week at the same time talking to another founder and our quest to find upside outside of silicon valley. If you or someone you know would make a good guest for our show, please email us or find us on twitter and let us know and if you love our show, please leave us a review on itunes. That goes a long way in helping us spread the word and continue to help bring high quality guests to the show. Eric, I decided there were a couple things we wanted to share with you at the end of the podcast, and so here we go, eric hornung and jay klaus or the founding parties of the upside podcast. At the time of this recording, we do not own equity or other financial interest in the companies which appear on this show. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own opinion and do not reflect the opinions of duff and phelps llc and its affiliates Unreal collective llc and its affiliates or any entity which employ us, this podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. we have not considered your specific financial situation nor provided any investment advice on this show. Thanks for listening and we’ll talk to you next week.

Stephanie Manning is the Director of Platform for Lerer Hippeau.

Lerer Hipeau is an early-stage venture capital fund based in New York City. As founders and operators themselves, Lerer Hippeau see returns in relationships. They seek entrepreneurs with product vision, consumer insight, focused execution, and unwavering ambition.

Their portfolio companies include Allbirds, Axios, Bark Box, Bench, BuzzFeed, Casper, Giphy, Glossier, Splash, and more.

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