645 Community Mic’d with David Fraga (Former President & COO of InVision)
We are thrilled to release our first 645 Community Mic’d session. In these short sessions we will be interviewing 645 community members, including founders, operators and advisors on a range of topics from the origins of their disruptive ideas to their lessons learned while building.
We are fortunate to have this first session with a close friend and high-impact leader in the creative technology space, David Fraga. As the former President and Chief Operating Officer of InVision, David successfully guided the company as it scaled from $10M in ARR to well-over $100M in ARR. During his time, InVision raised $300M+ from top investors, and today it employs a fully distributed team of hundreds of employees. Prior to InVision, David held leadership positions at Shutterstock and worked as an investor for Insight Partners. Additionally, David serves on the board of Raisedby.us, which has accelerated millions of dollars for charity by mobilizing the tech community to contribute to employee-identified causes.
In this session David shares 1) How he prioritized day to day tasks in a fast paced environment, 2) How he helped build a powerful employee brand, and 3) How he remained thoughtful about fundraising while growing quickly.
1) As Chief Operating Officer at InVision, you helped scale GTM, Finance, People, and Operations teams - how did you create a roadmap to tackle your wide array of projects?
When I joined InVision, we had already found product-market fit and were growing quickly, thanks in part to strong inherent virality in the business. We were past the 0 to 1 phase, and into the 1 to N stage, where managing growth and building an organization was critical.
We were seeing our user base expand rapidly among both designers and the non-designers they worked with, creating an opportunity to serve customers of all sizes. As with any rapidly growing business, there were constant fires, and it was hard not to jump into fighting each and every one.
But if there was one thing I learned while in the role - it was that as a growth-stage leader your most important priority is attracting talent. Prioritizing recruiting when fires are blazing is easier said than done, since each fire begs to be fought. But in growth-mode, there is no amount of firefighting you can keep up with if you don’t prioritize building your team. This was where I focused the majority of my time.
Whenever possible, I tried to reframe “what” and “how” questions into “who” questions, which often unlocked the most important and sustainable paths forward. Today, when I work with high-growth teams, recruiting and people decisions are some of the most important topics we talk about.
2) Double-clicking into prioritizing and perfecting your hiring, how did you attract great talent and build a strong employer brand?
Well, it is hard to fake culture. Fortunately, this is something we prioritized from early on: not just hiring talented people, but also hiring good people. We also built a fully-distributed team from the start – well before the pandemic led many teams to adopt this approach – which gave us access to a much greater range of talent than if we had been limited to a particular geography.
Authentic culture and borderless recruiting was a powerful combination for us. As we grew larger, we had to become increasingly intentional about scaling culture, especially without all being together in the same place. This took a lot of work but was worth it.
One example: We took our values seriously. It wasn’t something that we just wrote up and taped to a fridge. Rather it was something that we were extremely thoughtful about and built into all our processes.
Some fun, small things that went a long way:
- We created cards that we shared with each member of the team. Each card had one of our values on it, which you could hold up to the camera when you wanted to invoke a company principle in conversation.
- We created slack emojis that were specific to each of our values. This made it easy to reinforce culturally-aligned moments via chat.
- We used a product called Bonus.ly that allows employees to celebrate and reward each other, while using values-specific hashtags.
Of course, in addition to these small touch points, we built our values into our hiring and review processes, and celebrated them at every opportunity internally and externally.
Thanks to the organic culture we had built, reinforced by approaches like these, when great people encountered our team they were refreshed not just by their caliber, but also their character. This was a huge advantage for attracting talent, and deeply satisfying.
3) While you were building a strong team, you also raised $300M+ from Accel, Tiger, Battery, Spark, FirstMark and Atlassian. How did you approach your fundraising strategy?
We approached fundraising much in the same way we approached hiring. Given the momentum of the business, we were fortunate to get to choose who we worked with, and so could prioritize relationships that felt like partnerships. Relationships with investors are long-term, so making sure to work with people who are culturally aligned is critical. Much in the same way we were value driven with our employees we applied a similar thought process to who we brought on as investors.
We also looked for different perspectives that would complement our own. So while we wanted investors to be culturally-aligned, we were interested in having different experiences and ways of thinking about things from our investors and board members.
- Favorite Book: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
- Favorite Podcast Episode: How to decarbonize America – and create 25 million jobs
- Favorite Artist: Richard Serra