Joining Unusual Ventures

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I have some big news to share: I’m joining Unusual Ventures as a partner. Starting 2021, I am returning to my roots to focus on early-stage investing in enterprise SaaS. I am excited to support the next generation of founders at a firm with a diverse and humble dream team that’s defining a new standard for early stage investing in silicon valley. 

Venture is a strange industry and I’ve maintained a love-hate relationship with it for over a decade. Venture funds aim to support talented founders with innovative, high risk ideas and conviction. I have found it extremely fulfilling to work with these founders and put my own learnings as a SaaS executive and founder to good use. However, this industry has some deeply entrenched problems and is slow to evolve. There certainly have been some new trends in the past decade — from leveraging data to pick investments, flying founders on private jets, starting a rolling fund to VC-led SPACs. However, these changes have all been investor-centric and do not help the founders build companies faster and better. This is what attracted me to the mission at Unusual Ventures - John Vrionis and Jyoti Bansal built Unusual with the goal of providing an unprecedented level of GTM support to early-stage technical founders. 

Building the first full service seed fund in Silicon Valley

When Unusual leads a seed or Series A investment it deploys the Unusual Method - a founder engagement model of staggering depth. Not only do you get access to a hand-crafted library of resources and founder workshops led by veterans like Andy Rachleff and Adam Grant - you also get access to the GAP team. The Get Ahead Platform  is a team of ace operators who helped build iconic companies like Okta, MongoDB, New Relic, and Segment. When Unusual leads an early stage investment, they become near full time members of your team for 3 to 6 months to build your recruiting, marketing and sales functions. 

Every founder knows how hard it is to recruit expert operators in your first few years as a company. You can’t pay them enough to take the risk. Need to hire a lead infrastructure engineer? Need the right messaging for your marketing strategy? Building your first sales deck? Trying to get the right 50 customer conversations? The GAP team at Unusual literally delivers this for and with you. 

In fact, the GAP team at Unusual is bonused on hitting your quarterly goals as a founder. Talk about true alignment and shared accountability for results. Every firm and partner says they roll up their sleeves but Unusual walks the talk. John and Jyoti are also unmatched in their integrity and wear their hearts on their sleeves. 

Thank you, Amplitude

While I am excited to join Unusual, I am also heartbroken to leave Amplitude. When I joined the team in 2016, I had a singular goal—helping the founders make Amplitude the best company it can be. I started as a product manager in a tiny team that played FIFA together every evening. (Atleast, I think it was FIFA, I was mostly there for the laughs). Over the years, I served Amplitude in many roles—launching new features, building the product analytics category, scaling marketing, advising hundreds of founders & product leaders, starting the biggest product led growth conference in the world and most memorably—hiring and working with some incredible Ampliteers. I have learnt so much from them. I will miss this team more than words can convey. Thank you for your friendship, mentorship and inspiration. 

From the left: Spenser, Sandhya, Curtis, Jeffrey, Samwise (woof) and Justin, November 2020


What now?

This is an exciting time to be an early-stage investor, particularly in B2B tech. The accelerated COVID-led digitization of large and small businesses has grown the addressable market for new startups. It's never been easier to raise money and never been harder to build a large, differentiated business. I am currently obsessed with how video and customer data can be used to uplevel design, marketing and sales with the right new web and ML technologies. If you are working on ideas that leverage these shifts in platforms, I’d love to meet you and nerd out together. You can reach me at sandhya@unusual.vc or DM me on twitter.

I will be writing a lot more in my newsletter about the world of VC and about product-led growth strategy in the Unusual Field Guide. Sign up and stay tuned.

Onwards!

Written by
Sandhya Hegde