For our recent podcast episode, we had the pleasure of chatting with Maria Pacella, Senior VP and Managing Partner at Pender Ventures. She shares the importance of the people behind the product and how she got involved in venture funding.
Check out highlights from the episode below:
Is there a certain scorecard when looking at potential investments?
Yeah, and it’s somewhat similar. So people, product, market -put simply. We just actually had this debate on our own investment seminar last week between the team. So for me, it’s people. And for Christina, it’s the market. Having been in and around that scene a lot, I have come to notice that the people make all the difference. You can take, frankly, you know, maybe an average product, but with a fantastic team, they can sell the heck out of it and figure out how to position it. How many tech stories do we know of were not necessarily the best tech or product wins? Unfortunately, you know, there was a failure to launch for whatever reason, and it’s people making those decisions.
Do you have a piece of advice for the future founders?
I would say, even a couple of years ago, I would tell the Canadian founder to just think bigger. I actually think they are doing now, so what I would say instead is, think bigger in terms of their talent & recruitment. If you have a great opportunity, you can attract people from anywhere around the world, and they can actually just stay put at your company, wherever they’re from. And it’s actually really important to scale that talent sooner than you think you need them, because they’ll help you get to that next level and, you know, don’t be afraid to hire people smarter than you.
Are there any red flags that you look for when chatting with founders?
For me, it’s actually how they treat their own team and seeing their attributes within the team. Startups are rarely purely successful due to one person, it does require a team, a village. I started my career in investment banking, and I have seen a lot of things in my days, but just high levels of arrogance are just unacceptable. I believe that arrogance is actually a sign of insecurity, and at the end of the day, that combination leads to poor decision-making. Accumulate all of that together and that really worries me and certainly adds to a lot of risk to whatever decision we may make.
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Maria Pacella is the Senior VP and Managing Partner at Pender Ventures, and has over 20 years of investing and operational experience in emerging growth companies, with a focus on technology businesses