Dear Operators: Let’s invest and support founders from Day 1 to IPO

Basis Set Ventures
5 min readFeb 8, 2022


Dear Operators,

The venture market has changed dramatically in the past six months; there’s no doubt that founders want operators with experience in their space as their investors. From a founder’s perspective, you have the most up-to-date experience, customer connections and relationships with potential recruits.

While I was at Dropbox full-time, I wrote a tiny check into a small company called Scale AI in 2016 at a $15M valuation. That check has returned hundreds of times over on paper, multiple times more than what I made at Dropbox, full-time, over 4 years. But it’s not just lucrative — getting more operators on the cap table aligns business incentives between founders and institutional investors and is one of the best ways to achieve equality.

In going from being an operator angel to a fund manager, I benefited from the support of other operators and investors. I gradually worked up from advising founders to writing strategic checks and ultimately to joining boards and raising a fund that would maximize my ability to identify and support the strongest founders.

Today, we are announcing a new program that will help you do just this. While you operate, full time or part-time, you’ll be able to get a taste of what investing is like. Meet founders, get on the cap table of the founders you like and help them build great companies — all with the full support and resources of Basis Set.

You will have the ultimate flexibility, spending 1%-100% of your time, as you wish.

Here’s how:

Advise through Hypergrowth (Lowest commitment, a few hours per quarter)

Last year, we publicly launched the Hypergrowth Network to support founders in the earliest stages of company building. We were thrilled to have hundreds of mentors join from the best companies in tech. We’re continuing to grow this successful program. Our mentors get occasional requests to chat from the entrepreneurs in our portfolio or exceptional founders we’re getting to know. You’ll interact with the very best early-stage founders without spending more than a few hours every several months.

Invest alongside other operators (Low commitment, a few hours per month)

We’ve been quietly piloting a program where we bring a select group of operators we’ve gotten to know onto the cap tables of the companies we are investing in or building relationships with. We built an app that shows our investment pipeline and allows you to interact with founders and your follow co-investors. You get to invest directly into companies, building relationships with talented founders as you help them scale. You will probably make a lot of money, but nothing will match the satisfaction of seeing companies grow. 🙂

Become a Basis Set CXO or board partner (Moderate to high commitment)

Some of our friends have enjoyed investing so much that we are involving them substantially into our day to day investment process. We compensate each of them with carry (stock for a venture fund) and/or cash, so they can get exposure to what being in venture might be like, while sitting on the boards of the companies they love supporting. We’re excited to be expanding this program to invite more extraordinary leaders to invest, while sitting on our portfolio company boards, sourcing, diligencing and advising investments.

Recently -

  • Our CTO Niniane, the fmr VP of Engineering at Niantic, has helped us make investments in numerous companies, while advising us on technical diligence, and mentoring our technical team — which is now larger than our investment team! She sits on the board and advises companies like Serena & Lily, Rent the Runway and Walmart Labs.
  • Our CMO Sheila, the fmr VP of Growth and Marketing at Opendoor, sits on the boards of two of our core investments. Positioning herself as an operator at the forefront of new technology and growth strategies — and managing millions in revenue and spend — will allow her to better support portfolio companies and continue making stellar investments.
  • Our newest board partner and fmr COO Catherine, the fmr. COO of Shippo and CBO of Automattic, is already working with several of our portfolio companies. Catherine knows how to build and run high-functioning teams — growth, marketing, sales etc. She’s run operations for some of the most intricate businesses and she helps our founders level-up their companies for their next phase of growth.
  • We’re onboarding the CFO of a publicly traded company, recently listed on NYSE, who now sits on the board of one of our investments. His experience taking companies public is critical for companies going zero to IPO, and we are excited to help fill that gap for our portfolio companies.

You will have 100% flexibility coming in and out of venture, part-time, full-time, or a fraction of time — it’s up to you! You are welcome to spend anywhere between 10%-100% of your time, while compensated based on the contributions you make while you are with us. We welcome established operators learning to make investments while helping founders the best they can.

Please join us in one or any of the programs above as you see fit. We hope to ultimately democratize investing and get the best operators on cap tables, who are the closest to what founders are going through, to build the best companies together.

You’ll be working with the Basis Set team, all of us are former operators and founders who have gone through the process of learning, starting small, and eventually deciding to devote our entire careers to building — shoutout to Wilson, the newest member of our investment team, who joins us after operating at Square, Didi and CloudKitchens. Each and every one of us loves what we do.

What do we get in return? It takes a village to build a great company. We believe that founders will be so lucky to have you by their side, learning from your experience as they build category defining businesses.

Let’s chat!

Lan, on behalf of the Basis Set team

If you’re interested in getting involved in any of our Operators in Venture programs, please fill out this form and we’ll do our best to get you involved!



Basis Set Ventures

We invest in companies that harness the opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI) to improve our work lives