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Investing in entrepreneurs building category-defining B2B companies

Investing in entrepreneurs building category-defining B2B companies | Sonia Damian - Crew Capital

In this episode of the Tekpon SaaS Podcast, host Cristian Dina interviews Sonia Damian, the Head of Platform and Community at Crew Capital, a community-driven venture capital company that invests in entrepreneurs building category-defining B2B technology companies. Sonia discusses Crew Capital’s unique approach, their ability to provide support beyond capital, and their emphasis on empathy and understanding the challenges faced by founders. She also highlights how they educate and assist founders, emphasizing the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences within their community.

Crew Capital, founded two and a half years ago by Daniel Dinnes and Brandon Deer, co-founders of UiPath, positions itself as an active operator-led fund that invests in startups with the potential to redefine their respective industries. What sets Crew Capital apart is their extensive experience in scaling companies like UiPath from scratch to IPO, as well as their strong network of operators who can offer strategic and tactical guidance to their portfolio founders.

Sonia explains that Crew Capital’s role isn’t to educate founders but rather to act as advisors, highlighting the pros and cons of different approaches and sharing lessons learned from their own experiences. They offer practical assistance in various areas such as recruitment, HR, go-to-market strategy, marketing, and fundraising. They connect founders with relevant resources, including recruitment agencies, industry executives, investors, and other venture capital companies. Additionally, they release content that aims to give back to the founders’ community, featuring interviews with successful founders who share their insights and challenges faced during scaling journeys.

When asked about the biggest mistakes founders make, Sonia acknowledges that each founder’s experience is different, but there are common lessons to be learned. One such lesson is the risk of bringing highly experienced individuals into the team too early, as it can result in frustration and wasted resources. She advises founders to clearly define the role they need to be filled and seek individuals who have experience at a similar stage of growth.

Another mistake is founders trying to handle everything themselves, hindering effective delegation. Hiring a competent leadership team and trusting them is essential to help achieve the company’s vision. Lastly, Sonia emphasizes the importance of listening to customers, as their feedback can determine the success of the product. Founders must understand their problem and continuously seek input from potential clients throughout the product development process.

The story of UiPath

On the positive side, Sonia highlights the passion and enthusiasm that founders bring to their ventures. Their ability to infect others with their passion for building and growing a team is essential. This shared passion creates a strong foundation for success.

The episode also delves into the success story of UiPath, a leading business automation platform that took Eastern Europe’s venture ecosystem by storm. UiPath started in 2005 and, after pivoting towards building a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solution in 2013, became the fastest-growing software company in history, ultimately achieving a successful IPO in April 2021.

Sonia, who joined UiPath in 2017 as the third member of the HR team, witnessed and contributed to their international expansion. UiPath’s journey has put Eastern Europe on the map of the venture capital world, becoming the first company in the region to achieve unicorn status and subsequently go public.

Overall, this episode provides valuable insights into Crew Capital’s approach to investing in and supporting founders of category-defining B2B technology companies. Their emphasis on leveraging their experiences, networks, and strategic and tactical guidance sets them apart in the venture capital landscape, making them an invaluable resource for founders looking to scale their companies effectively.