We’re excited to announce that Lexi Quirk has joined 645 Ventures as the newest member of our Success Team.
Recruiting is always top of mind for rapidly-growing and competitive organizations. When we work with our portfolio companies to attract exceptional talent, we constantly stress the importance of hiring A+ people in the early days, because they attract similar people. Those A+ hires contribute in ways far beyond the bullets outlined in the job description. They evolve the core culture of a company and build it from what it is now to what it could become in the future.
At 645, we strive to find people who have consistently shown grit, tenacity and exceptionalism in several aspects of their lives. We saw each of these qualities in Lexi Quirk when we first met her back in November.
It didn't take long for Lexi to stand out from the 150+ highly-qualified applicants that applied for our Success Team role. On paper, she was exactly what we were looking for - a talented and hungry candidate with an outstanding work ethic. She had built strong analytical and client-facing experience during her time at Accenture, and had excelled by playing a key role in engagements for their Digital Transformation and Marketing Strategy practice. Her experience checked several boxes, but it was her extraordinary tenacity and winning spirit that set her apart.
In the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth emphasizes that, “Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.” Endurance is a quality that Lexi has displayed throughout her life, and which she honed in her athletic career and academic pursuits. At Princeton, Lexi was a key contributor on Princeton’s varsity field hockey team, which won three Ivy League titles and reached the NCAA Final Four. Lexi’s former Princeton Field Hockey coach shared that “Lexi Is always pushing herself to get better and consistently manages to do so while, at the same time, elevating everyone around her.” Simultaneously, Lexi received academic accolades from the Princeton Psychology Department at graduation. Recognition for her two years of research that resulted in her final thesis on the study of implicit bias and education.
Lexi will be joining 645’s Success Team alongside Guerin Schwarberg. We are incredibly excited to have her onboard, and together to elevate 645 Ventures as a firm that goes above and beyond for founders. Please join us in welcoming Lexi to the VC community!
When we founded 645 Ventures over 7 years ago, we recognized a consistent imbalance between founders and their seed stage investors. Most seed stage investors have historically provided capital, select network introductions, and advice to founders. It wasn’t common for seed stage firms to be able to track, let alone address, the majority of their portfolio founders’ customer, capital, and business needs. The business model of seed-stage venture capital didn’t support active management of a portfolio because portfolio sizes were too large and most firms weren’t structured in a way to be able to consistently respond to founder needs.
In the early days of the seed market, there were a relatively small number of funds competing for the best companies. Investors could acquire 10% - 15% ownership of early-stage startups by investing as little as $500k. Today, the seed market is very different. There are hundreds of seed funds competing for investments, valuations and round sizes have ballooned, and discerning founders are looking for firms that can provide highly-targeted resources to help their companies scale.
As we sketched out the initial plans for 645 Ventures in 2014, we formulated a concept called a Client-Service Mindset applied to early-stage venture capital.
645 Ventures Investor Presentation, 2014
We set out to not only support companies once they enter our portfolio, but also to ambitiously create value for founders throughout our due diligence process. We referred to this type of work as “non-capital investments that accelerate startup experimentation”. In order to do this we would need to solve human resource, portfolio size/construction, and management fee problems that prevented most early-stage VCs before us from building scalable value-add practices. If successful, we suspected that this business model innovation in VC would allow us to go on to repeatedly drive value for founders along their entrepreneurial paths. We had seen this approach work well at the growth stage by firms like Insight Venture Partners, and selectively at the early-stage by specialist firms like First Round Capital. Multi-stage firm A16z had pioneered an Agency Model which mirrored the approach built by Mike Ovitz at Creative Arts Agency (CAA).
Our approach was to innovate a value-add model for the earlier stages of startup formation and growth using software, targeted resources, and a scalable network. Just like the founders that we back, we looked to software and network effects inherent in the VC/startup ecosystem to unlock the solution to scalable value-add solutions at the earliest stage of investing. We built proprietary software that would automate value-add tasks typically carried out by GPs, and we developed a portfolio construction strategy that would benefit from a (smaller) concentrated portfolio, allowing the firm resources to be more dedicated to founders. This resulted in a smaller team, allowing us to build an operation that could deliver on value-add promises made to founders during the due diligence process. Finally, we built specialized and influential networks of leaders who have been able to influence outcomes for our founders. One of those specialized networks is our firm’s publicly facing Connected Network.
Our iterative approach to building a value-add practice has proven to be a driving force of our firm and portfolio success. We have institutionalized this approach into our firm’s Success Team, a dedicated group of people at the firm who specialize in using our software, protocols, and processes to meet the immediate needs of founders and our firm’s most strategic initiatives. As an early stage fund we’ve helped founders acquire their first customers and helped many of founders as they’ve navigated M&A processes. Most recently, we have helped founders explore (diverse) board member placement and prepare for IPO. We have started to prove that an early stage fund can help a startup evolve from the seed stage to the growth stage through a dedicated Success Team that actively responds to founders’ needs.
On our Success Team, Lexi will work closely with our Investment & Research Team and GPs to help the firm become a greater extension of founders’ teams by helping to tackle their immediate needs. As our firm scales, we will continue to invest in the growth of the Success Team, in areas including marketing, business development (i.e. customer acquisition and early adoption), corporate development, and design.