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Investing in businesses and in people
How we think about post-investment support at Supply Change Capital
When Shayna and I were brainstorming and evaluating the potential for investing together under a venture firm platform, one of the key areas of discussion was around the kinds of challenges and pitfalls that early stage companies face on the journey through growth and scale….and our thoughts on how to support them. Shayna had seen these challenges first hand as the COO of Farmer’s Fridge, leading this fresh food tech company through revenue growth and rapid team onboarding. And I had seen this first hand through MiLA Capital’s accelerator model, during which we spent four months working shoulder to shoulder with early stage founders and then beyond. Throughout the portfolio, the top challenges were consistently around leadership, team dynamics, mental health, and talent. We understood that to be successful, companies had to invest time and focus to supercharge the team. They had to build in practices and policies for a solid foundation.
This convergence of experience and values would turn into a commitment to invest 1% of our fund for portfolio founder executive leadership coaching, D&I, and mental health support. In fact, we have included this in our formative fund documents, and in the side letter for portfolio companies.
Crafting the structure
The program took time to define; we wanted to ensure that there would be a value-add for founders, that the time commitment would be realistic, and that we could scale the program across our portfolio. We found a partner in Chicago-based Verde Associates. Shayna had previously worked Laura Greenberg and team. They have experience working with both CPG and tech companies and with VC and PE firms. They were moved by a small, underdog venture capital firm that was thinking about the kinds of platform services that — in their experience — only PE firms were thinking about. Yeah, we know!
During our early formation period, Shayna and I benefitted greatly from the four emerging manager programs we joined. We knew that learning from like-minded and like-hearted cohorts would be key. So we partnered with Lindsay Levin at Verde to co-create a six month program that would position our founders for success. And, we named the program Supercharge III for the areas we would focus on, which including building (1) Leadership, (2) Management, and (3) Culture for fast-growth organizations.
The goal of the Supercharge III program is to elevate individual and organizational awareness for more effective leadership. The components for the Supercharge III program include:
HR basics for early stage organizations
Common growth pain points in early organizations
Understanding and defining culture
The role of leadership
Going deeper, there’s an individual leadership coaching component, and a group learning/cohort component. Founders take Hogan assessments and these are evaluated individually and as a team to identify areas of leverage, and potential areas of conflict.
Founders meet for 90 minutes every six weeks or so and have access to learn from and share with each other as they tackle similar opportunities and challenges.
This program is NOT an attempt to bring certain types of founders up to speed. This program is how we take our lessons learned, turn them into proactive game plans, and create the environment for greatness. The lessons apply to all founders - whether it’s your first time starting a company, or you are a serial entrepreneur.
What founders are saying
The inaugural version of the Supercharge III program kicked off February 15th, 2022, in large part because we had a critical mass of companies in our portfolio who were actively asking us about the program! We’ve also experienced the existence of this program being a reason founders, even at later stages like Series A and B, wanting to work with us on their journey.
We are doing it too!
Now, we are walking the talk! Shayna and I have also taken Hogan assessments, and our executive coach uses these as a tool in our ongoing coaching. We are actively working on the other aspects of the Supercharge III program at Supply Change Capital. We have our own active cohort of trusted fund manager friends and are grateful for the experience and mentorship of folks like Gale from Vitalize and Samara from Chingona Ventures.
Behind the logos in a portfolio are people. And in our case, some are folks who are building their first companies and raising capital for the first time. At Supply Change Capital, we sit at the table with them and let them know that beyond their companies, we’re investing in them too.
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