This post is by First Round from Stories by First Round on Medium
By Hayley Barna
Like many of you, I’ve found myself using the word “unprecedented” over and over again these last few months. There are no adjectives that adequately convey how hard our country—and New York City in particular—has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet at First Round, we’ve been so inspired by how this #NewYorkTough community and the startup world more broadly have pulled together.
As we enter this new era, while we don’t know exactly what is ahead of us, we do believe that support for founders will be more critical than ever. We’re figuring out what that looks like as we adjust in real time, publishing our Crisis Field Guide, hosting virtual CEO salons and partner meetings, introducing our Second Round Guarantee and taking our pre-founder programming fully remote. One thing that hasn’t changed? Our unwavering belief in the power and potential of this city’s startup ecosystem.
In some sense, our new remote work paradigm has removed geography from the equation of the founder and investor relationship. But as a lifelong New Yorker, it’s never far from my mind. As we sit in the national hot spot, I feel the warm kinship of my New York colleagues and founders now more than ever. We were hit quickly and deeply by this pandemic and while I am naturally optimistic, I know that we have a long and complicated road to recovery ahead of us. I’m hopeful that this path will be eased by our commitment to each other. Now is the time to step up and offer solid support — as investors who stand on relatively firmer footing, our mandate is to do all that we can to help founders and their teams weather the strong winds ahead.
For over ten years, First Round has been committed to doing that work for New York’s founders. Today I’m excited to announce we’re continuing in that tradition. Megan Kelly has joined our investment team as an Associate here in New York, with a focus on discovering and partnering with the next generation of this city’s remarkable startups.
For many in the New York tech community, Megan is already a familiar face. We were lucky enough to have her join the First Round team nearly two years ago, after she spent several years at J.P. Morgan and cut her teeth in the startup world at Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global. She made an outsized impact right away, working closely with me as my trusted right hand in evaluating new investment opportunities and supporting companies in our community, including Studs, Squad, Alma, Caper, and Thirty Madison. Her work building communities within the New York tech ecosystem has also stood out, particularly her involvement in co-founding the All Raise Associate Cohort Program, which is expanding nationally this year.
Megan already has several months as an Associate under her belt, and she has unsurprisingly hit the ground running. She’s specifically interested in fintech, the future of work, and social and community platforms, but above all, she’s energized by the opportunity to support founders of all stripes as they set out to build lasting companies. She’s had a front-row seat to the thrill of a successful launch, and is no stranger to the fire drills that often go on behind the scene to make it happen. She’s seen the hard decisions that come up in boardrooms and has lined up resources for founders to help give them the frameworks and input they need to make tough decisions. Her knowledge about what happens after the check is written will serve her well as she now focuses on sourcing and supporting founders early in their journey to securing seed funding.
Megan will be taking the baton from Chris Brown and Nashilu Mouen-Makoua, who after a successful two years as NYC-based investment team members have embarked on exciting next chapters (as a Principal at Inspired Capital and the Head of Operations at our community company Clay, respectively). Chris and Nash did exceptional work during their time here, sourcing and supporting many new investments for First Round, and I’m so proud to count them as alumni.
In closing, these are hard times, but we see wide-open windows for innovation. There are opportunities for new companies to take advantage of accelerated behavior change to create the platforms and services needed for the road ahead.
If you’re building a company, Megan and I would love to hear from you. It may be awhile until we can safely welcome you into the New York office, but in the meantime we will be working alongside you to keep this city’s innovation engine humming.