Meet Meka Asonye, Go-to-Market Expert, Stripe Veteran — and First Round’s Newest Partner
Why he’s the investor technical and product focused founders need in their corner.
By: The First Round Partnership
As you might have read in the digital pages of Forbes this morning, the First Round partnership is thrilled to announce that Meka Asonye will be joining our team as a Partner.
Since 2016, Meka has been an active angel investor, which is how our paths first intersected. Building on the startup investing and advising he’d done over the years, Meka joined the Spring 2019 cohort of Angel Track. (Given that we’re currently in the midst of preparations for launching the Spring 2021 cohort applications, we can’t help but reflect on the full-circle nature of this moment.)
Ever since, we’ve been fortunate to count Meka as part of the First Round fold, both as an Angel Track alum and as a mentor in Fast Track. So this past summer, when we opened up our partner search for the first time and Meka threw his hat in the ring, we pursued him immediately
Meka’s been both a company’s early sales hire and also a VP leading a 100-person global, robust sales org, a rare combination that isn’t often found in an early-stage investor. We were immediately impressed with the arc of his career and the depth of experience he’ll be bringing to the First Round partnership and the founders we serve.
Uniquely, he went from Princeton to player development and baseball operations for the Cleveland Indians — perhaps a farsighted start to his career, given the parallels between spotting hidden minor league talent and coaching them up to the majors, and finding early-stage founders of scrappy startups and partnering with them on their path to IPO. Meka left the world of Moneyball to join Bain’s technology practice as a case team leader, where he partnered with the C-Suites of Fortune 50 companies and dove deep into the legacy tech spaces that today’s startups are taking on.
From there, he cut his teeth at Stripe, spending four years at the company as it scaled from 250 to 2000 people and matured its sales org. He spent a year as one of the first AEs as the startup attempted to go upmarket and land enterprise logos. Meka then moved into leading Stripe’s Startup/SMB business, which involved launching outbound sales, optimizing self-serve, building a customer success function, opening new offices, and finding creative ways to holistically support startups, from reviewing YC applications to workshopping business models.
Most recently, Meka served as VP of Sales and Services at Mixpanel, where he ran the more than 100-person global revenue team, mastered another highly technical B2B sales process, and owned the customer lifecycle from first website visit to renewal.
Along the way, Meka stepped up his angel investments, backing companies like Rimeto (acquired by Slack), Coda and Stych, and investing alongside First Round in startups like Snackpass. He’s advised more than 100 companies on go-to-market strategy, rolling up his sleeves to craft product messaging and outbound content, build and refine sales and conversion funnels, define revenue goals, coach founders, and mentor their early sales hires.
Given how critical it is for an early-stage founder to nail not just product, but early go-to-market efforts, we couldn’t be more thrilled to add Meka’s expertise to the team. For technical or product oriented founders looking to go from zero to their first couple million in revenue, we’re convinced that he is the investor you need in your corner.
- You can lean on his GTM playbook. From top-down enterprise sales or bottoms-up product led growth strategies, to the tactical weeds of structuring pilots, winning your first 10 customers, and mapping GTM motions to ACV and pricing, he’s spent his career building repeatable playbooks for organizations small and large. Whether it’s prematurely abandoning founder-led sales, or layering on marketing too late, there are many pitfalls founders can fall into — and Meka’s uniquely well-equipped to help them see around these corners. (He’s also got a strong network of sales, growth and customer success leaders to introduce you to.)
- He’s been in your shoes — recently. In our job description, we noted that we were looking for someone with in-the-trenches experience as a founder or operator at different stages. Meka is fresh off the frontlines and his experiences are incredibly relevant to what founders are facing right now — as he puts it, he owned a quarterly number just one quarter ago.
- He’s committed to helping you win. With his fast ramp attitude and intense commitment, he’s been an immediate culture add to our team. As part of the interview process, Meka wrote up a few thoughts on his approach that we had to share here:
“I’m a first generation American with a founder mentality. My Nigerian immigrant parents and grandparents are both entrepreneurial — it runs in my blood… I also love to win. In my time at the Indians, we won multiple Minor league championships and played in the American League Championship series for the first time in 10 years. Moreover, players that were drafted and developed during my tenure were cornerstones on the team that won 3 consecutive division titles and went to the World Series. At Stripe, my teams never missed their number. As a consultant and investor, I’ve worked across numerous spaces, many unknown to me on Day 1. I bring the same fast ramp attitude to my personal endeavors. I received my pilot’s license four months after my first lesson. You can count on me bringing this curiosity, commitment, depth, and intensity to all our endeavors.”
Meka’s sharp go-to-market chops, world-class leadership skills, track record as an angel, dedication to early-stage, and experiences scaling Stripe and Mixpanel will make him an exceptional investor.
We’re certain our partnership is stronger with him at the (as of now, still virtual) table, and we’re confident our community will benefit from his guidance. We could not be more excited to have him join First Round’s investment team.
If you’re building a company and think Meka could help, please get in touch with him here: meka dot asonye at firstround dot com.