By Hayley Barna
Over the last year, we’ve double downed on our efforts to work with founders and startups in New York. We spun up the Product Co-op, launched the Product Program, and held our first NY Founder Summit. Last week alone we hosted nine events in our office, ranging from an intimate CEO discussion about coaching to a 75-person breakfast for women in tech sales and marketing. We continue to experiment and iterate to figure out what we can do to contribute in a meaningful way to this community.
We’re investing in the New York ecosystem because we believe it’s an amazing place to build startups. We’ve held that opinion for over a decade — and it’s been exciting to see that core belief reflected in some of the high-growth companies we’ve backed since day one. Three of them, Blue Apron, Flatiron Health and OnDeck Capital, are 3 of the 4 largest exits ever in NYC. As we were with these companies, we continue to be obsessed with being a founder’s first call, whether it’s seed, pre-seed, friends-and-family, angel, mango-seed or anything in-between. No idea is too early.
When I committed to a long-term career at First Round as a General Partner last fall, a big part of my excitement stemmed from the responsibility to grow and lead the team here. Now I’m excited to announce that Chris Brown and Nashilu Mouen-Makoua have joined First Round’s New York team as Associates, and Megan Kelly has joined as Partner Operations Manager.Working closely with me, they will help expand our efforts to support the city’s startup community as well as discover the next generation of remarkable startups.
Chris initially joined our Philadelphia team in 2016 before making the move to New York this April. After nearly two years of soaking up investment wisdom from founding partner Josh Kopelman and working closely to support the companies we’ve backed, Chris will be shifting his focus towards finding and bringing the next generation of remarkable founders into the First Round Community. Before joining First Round, Chris spent over three years at The Blackstone Group here in New York. Despite the quality of Philly’s cheesesteaks, he’s excited to come back to “the City” with a newfound focus on supporting it’s tech ecosystem. His interests range from consumer marketplaces to healthcare delivery optimization — all underscored by a love of meeting with founders who reason from first principles, take on seemingly unsolvable problems, and aim to make a dent in the world around them.
Nash is new to our team, but far from a stranger. Before joining First Round, she was a Partner in Dorm Room Fund — a student-run venture fund powered by First Round — while earning her MBA at NYU Stern School of Business. At Stern, she was the Co-President of InSITE Fellows and President of the Stern VC Community. Prior to grad school, Nash spent a number of years making the Bay her second home, working in international development, urban development, and edtech. A storyteller, a humanitarian, and an intellectual, her interests range from personalization and data plays in consumer tech, to the future of work, education decoupling, and 1099 community — with the occasional poetry slam in between.
While Chris and Nash will be focused on sourcing new investments, Megan will be working on investment operations, helping to evaluate new opportunities, and ensuring a seamless experience for founders before and after we invest. She joins First Round from Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and started her career in finance at J.P. Morgan.
I feel lucky to be working alongside this talented team, and can’t wait to see how they each push our thinking in different directions, experiment with new ways to support New York startups, and find their own styles as investors. We’d love to hear from you on what we can do for the NYC tech ecosystem.
Photography by Michael George.