Why Your Team is Your Greatest Competitive Advantage by Jenna Abdou


Growing up the Torrey athletic motto, yes my high school mascot is a tree, was ‘The team! The team! The team!’ 

Hardly athletically gifted, I never quite understood the sentiment; Especially, when our football team would chant it in the huddle. Why couldn’t we channel the Mighty Titans instead? 

Whether it was a group project in college or listening to founders on the show, I quickly learned that the football coaches were on to something. Your team is the most telling indicator of your success. 

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Kaden, a Partner at Maveron, on 33founders. 

At only 28 years old, I was curious about how she broke into the world of venture capital so quickly. 

Since joining the consumer focused firm in 2011 Rebecca’s invested in companies like Earnest, Everlane and August. 

She is currently a Board Observer at General Assembly, Dolls Kill, Darby Smart and August Home.

With passion that speaks far louder than any answer she could have shared, Rebecca didn’t skip a beat crediting her team for mentoring her along the way.

“There is nothing better than working with people you really admire, respect, are passionate about and inspired by. The Maveron team is filled with those kind of people. I just love being a part of my team,” she shared 

Rebecca is especially appreciative to Dan Levitan, the Co-Founder of Maveron, for taking her under his wing. 

“He gave me much more leash than I deserved. He let me earn it. I’m very grateful,” she said, reflecting on the early days. 

Rebecca started as an analyst at Maveron while completing her MBA at Stanford. 

In 2011 and today, her highest priority is developing an acute sense of pattern recognition; Connecting the dots to understand how the past fuels the present, and eventually the future. 

Pattern recognition is a career-long quest for venture capitalists. It enables them to identify the founders and companies that will make a drastic impact on the way we live. 

To cultivate it, Dan was adamant that Rebecca gain real life experience. 

“He’d tell me, ‘There’s only one way to find out if you’re good at this and it’s to do it. Go out there, meet the entrepreneurs and put money on the table.’”

Then and now, Rebecca spends her days meeting with entrepreneurs. 

Her love for her own team translates into each of the investments she makes for Maveron. 

You know when you’re aligned with the right people and that always feels better than being aligned with the right market.

Rebecca on cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs.

Rebecca’s first investment was Splash, an event planning platform enabling brands to engage their audiences before, during and after an event. 

Despite the excitement of being the startup’s first institutional investor, Rebecca recognized the risk accompanying the check. 

We don’t celebrate investments. We celebrate exits and outcomes.

Maveron’s guiding principle.

According to Rebecca, investors want to partner with entrepreneurs who are “crisp thinkers:” Individuals who bring their big vision to life with the actions they’re taking today.  

“There’s a way they speak with vision, not just about what they want to do next but six steps down the line. Being able to articulate that in the first meeting and communicating that you have that big vision and then in the next sentence, you drill down, and say tomorrow we’re doing this,” she explained. 

To learn more about what the Maveron team seeks in investments as well as how Rebecca’s grown as a venture capitalist, tune into her episode of 33founders and follow her on Twitter here.

Here’s a glimpse of what we discuss.

  • A VC’s quest to develop pattern recognition 
  • Why you shouldn’t congratulate an investor for writing a check 
  • The traits Maveron seeks in founders 
  • The one thing she’d change about the VC industry 
  • What we can expect for the future of consumer products 


Further Reading
  • How MeUndies Made Merchandising Their Competitive Advantage — When MeUndies thinks about their underwear subscription service they compare themselves to Netflix. What the streaming pioneer did for TV, the Los Angeles startup wants to do to your underwear drawer. The goal is to provide monthly subscribers with the staples they love while delivering elements of surprise - Think briefs with donuts and dinosaurs - right to your doorstep.
  • Seedling Relies on Childhood Curiosity to Inspire a Creative Team — On a recent flight home, I spent over an hour browsing a children’s play website, completely enamored by sets like Design Your Own Superhero Cape and Invent Your Own Insects. After sharing Seedling with everyone I know, despite few of my friends having children, I wondered why the brand struck a such a meaningful chord with me.
  • eero Designs Wi-Fi for the Smart Home Era — Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Principal at Shasta Ventures, recently distinguished exceptional founders by their ability to prioritize. “It all comes back to prioritization, speed, paranoia, and knowing that if you don’t iterate, even after finding product market fit, you can be disrupted by the next product,” he says.


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