Expanding Our Network

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This year USV is celebrating 10 years of having a network team.
While it’s evolved over time, the core principle of
leveraging network effects to help our companies build better
businesses
has remained constant. We’ve always felt this
model of support was most in line with our investment
thesis. 

When I joined exactly one year ago it was with the rather open
remit of expanding our programming to include what we call the USV
external network. That includes talent, alumni, independent
directors, advisors, third party vendors, and just about any one
who touches USV but doesn’t work directly for one of our
companies. We approached this challenge with an entrepreneurial
mindset and spent the year running small, measurable experiments to
help us understand where we can have the most impact. Some of these
experiments were successful and we doubled downed, some failed
miserably, and some never even took off. Below are two examples of
areas where I think we’ve found strong product-network
fit.

Talent Network

Last year we launched a job board
and talent network
to aid in our portfolio’s recruiting
efforts. By the end of 2019, we had driven over 12,000 clicks on
portfolio jobs and 1,500 great candidates signed up to join our
network. However, it wasn’t until we made two changes that we
started seeing the impact we were hoping for:

  1. Focusing on high quality introductions as the core success
    metric.
  2. Instead of relying on great candidates to request introductions
    to our companies, we launched a monthly talent digest to market the
    best talent to our companies. 

It was through one of our digests that recent portfolio addition
Stedi discovered Mike McDonald who
would go on to become the company’s first product hire. Fueled by
the two insights above we have started to make over 30 high quality
introductions per month. With a few modifications, we think we can
triple that number in the first half of 2020 while simultaneously
improving the impact of each introduction we make. 

Alumni Network

There are over 10,000 people who at one point or another have
worked at a USV-backed company. Over the course of the year we
tried a handful of tactics to strengthen our relationships with
them. First, we hosted two dinners, one in New York and one in San
Francisco. These dinners were opportunities for former executives
to connect with our partners as well as get to know each other.
Second, we tested a wider engagement value proposition that
included – opportunities to speak at events, access to open jobs,
and chances to advise. To date, we’ve re-connected with over 200
portfolio alumni, over 70 of which are now a part of our roster of
network event speakers. It was through this effort that we were
able to reconnect with Shawn Sprockett who hosted a fantastic
digital case study for our design directors on setting and
following design standards. It’s a small start but something we
hope to build on in 2020.

In any year in review it’s easy to make the work of the past
year look preordained and successful. The truth is, trying to get
traction on any new initiative is messy and includes a lot of false
starts. While last year wasn’t perfect, we’re entering 2020
with strong conviction on what direction to take our external
network efforts and look forward to sharing that vision with you in
our next post. In the meantime, if you’re an alumnus who’d love
to reconnect, let us know
here
and if you’d like to work at USV company in 2020, sign
up at jobs.usv.com.

The post Expanding
Our Network
appeared first on Union Square Ventures.

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