How to leverage your most valuable asset: your peer group

This post is from our Founder Support Series, a collection of articles centered around highlighting smart, efficient, and proven company-building tactics for common early-stage challenges.

Early-stage investors are often tapped for various support efforts when it comes to building a company. As a former operator, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this is one of the best parts of the job.

Investors love meeting founders, going deep in a problem space, and ultimately partnering with teams towards a shared vision. But, the rubber really meets the road post-investment. This is often where we build the most trust, connective tissue, and serve as an additional team member working towards your company’s goals.

But, are investors really the best positioned to serve your business holistically? I would argue that founders have other folks in their network even better positioned to add value – your peer group. Fellow founders can play an outsized role in catalyzing leaders, teams and funding. If you’re a founder not spending time with other entrepreneurs you’re missing out on so much wisdom, connections and experience that can radically support your own journey.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote, “…talent instantly recognizes genius” which translates to founders knowing and attracting great people.

Founder friends show up in a myriad of ways, but here are three examples where they can be truly transformative:

1. Mentorship

Leadership and personal development are critical for founders, but only some have enough capital to hire an executive coach. Some of the best coaches I’ve worked with and referred are former founders who’ve decided to move into this field. Founders who are in the game are even more valuable. Their ethos, value systems and industry expertise go beyond being the occasional sounding board. Founders in your peer group can streamline and enhance your professional and personal outcomes in ways that are more intimate and pointed given their deep day-to-day experience in your shoes.

2. Talent

The early days of hiring a team can be daunting and many early-stage founders do not have extensive recruiting experience. Knowing where to go to hire software engineers or mechanical engineers can be overwhelming, especially if you’re located in geographies where the tech talent is robust. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote, “…talent instantly recognizes genius” which translates to founders knowing and attracting great people. Whole-heartedly recommend shopping roles with other founders and/or meeting individuals they highly recommend. As a founder, you’re always hiring so pay attention to those networking introductions especially from other founders.

3. Fundraising

The best deal flow comes from founders in our portfolio. These veritable ‘venture scouts’ have an edge - they know us, our sensibilities, how we work, what we like, and even better, we trust them because we’ve bet on them. Founders are the folks you want to do the heavy lifting when it comes to investor introductions when fundraising. A connection that comes in from an entrepreneur we invest in goes so much further than one from an investor we work alongside. You will get so much closer to booking the meeting just by virtue of using this in-road.

We at Collab Fund and Shared Future Fund know the importance of community and intentionally bring our founders together several times a year to meet and build relationships. The value of your peer group is immense, and if we as investors can be the conduit, even better.