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‘Solo’ GP No More: A New VC Business Model Emerges

‘Solo’ GP No More: A New VC Business Model Emerges

“Joining up with a solo GP early could be like joining an early startup in terms of financial and career upside.”
  • Solo GPs are hiring staff to keep up with the growing size of their portfolios.
  • These hires help the GP source and evaluate deals, manage their portfolio, and handle back office tasks.
  • Solo GPs that hire staff often enjoy some of the benefits of a VC firm, while still being the public face and sole decision-maker for the fund.

As solo GPs raise increasingly larger funds, they’re hiring staff to help evaluate companies, support founders and limited partners (LPs), and manage the back office. While these jobs go by a variety of names—”chief of staff,” “analyst,” “associate,” etc.—they all share one goal: provide solo GPs more leverage.

“I hired someone because I simply didn’t have time to do everything anymore,” said Turner Novak, founder of Banana Capital. “Running a fund is a lot more work than angel investing. Having an associate helps me be more efficient.”


By building teams, these GPs are redefining what “solopreneurship” looks like, while creating new jobs in an industry that’s historically been inaccessible to outsiders. 

“‘Solo GP’ has become something of a misnomer,” said Todd Goldberg, GP of Todd & Rahul’s Rolling Fund. “As far as I know, the biggest solo GPs today have at least a chief of staff supporting them.”

The Venture Fund Product Manager

Working for a solo GP offers exposure to all facets of running a venture fund and potentially greater autonomy than an established VC firm may offer. Vedika Jain decided to become chief of staff to Ryan Hoover of Weekend Fund because it provided her an on-ramp to the world of VC and the opportunity to work closely with someone she admired.

“It’s a very privileged job because you get to watch at close range how the future gets built,” said Jain, who previously worked as a product manager at TrueLayer and Stripe. 

Jain considers her role to be that of a “VC product manager.” She spends most of her time sourcing and evaluating investment opportunities with Hoover. She also manages Weekend Fund’s tech stack, develops new workflows and automations, and handles general administrative items. If the fund performs well, she earns a portion of the carry

“The role of the chief of staff is to maximize the impact of a GP by helping with prioritization, operational tasks, and executing on special projects,” Hoover said. “In my case, Vedika does all these things and more. Weekend Fund is far more successful with her support.”

Finding the Right Person

Vedika Jain and Ryan Hoover of Weekend Fund

There's no template for working with a solo GP. Different GPs have different expectations for the role. When Goldberg sought out a chief of staff, he looked for a “generalist who can get things done.”

“We wanted a master prioritizer who could execute at a high velocity, learn quickly, communicate clearly, and think both strategically and tactically,” Goldberg said.

He ended up hiring Brandon Myint, who’d previously worked at M13 and First Round Capital. During the interview process, Goldberg and Myint reviewed a handful of pitch decks together and discussed ideas on how they could support portfolio companies.

“So much of the chief of staff role is chemistry with the GP,” said Myint, who works remotely from Los Angeles. “It’s one of the most intimate working relationships because, to be effective, you must understand how the GP thinks so you can be proactive in offering ideas and amplifying their impact.”

Myint defines success in his role as making sure Goldberg, co-GP Rahul Vohra, and the founders in their portfolio have everything they need on a day-to-day basis. If he’s doing his job well, he says it means the fund is “providing value beyond what would be expected based on our check size.”

Conversely, Hoover looked for a chief of staff with a product management background because he felt it would complement his own skillset.

“Ryan and I are aligned in thinking about the fund as a product and our users as founders,” said Jain. “We’re similar enough to get things done, but different enough to be stronger together. I think that’s what makes a good partnership.”

A New VC Business Model

As we’ve written in the past, solo GPs may have several distinct advantages over VC firms: they can move fast, accept more founder-friendly terms, and build more favorable brands (see: Packy McCormick, Lenny Rachitsky, Harry Stebbings, for example). 

Do these advantages still apply as solo GPs build teams behind them? VCs we interviewed said many operations are trending towards a hybrid model powered by platforms like AngelList in which one or two staff help “level up” the GP.

“AngelList has allowed us to scale our operation while staying nimble,” said Goldberg. “They abstract away so much of the back office admin and ops, allowing my chief of staff and I to focus on higher leverage tasks like supporting founders.”

These GPs remain “solo” in the sense that they’re still the sole decision-makers and public face of the fund, but also enjoy the benefits of having support staff. Novak considers this arrangement the best of both worlds, and compared joining some of these new hybrid firms to joining a unicorn startup early.

“With the right compensation, joining up with one of these GPs early could be like joining an early startup in terms of financial and career upside,” Novak said.

It’s important to note that many solo GPs backed into the role of hiring manager as a byproduct of their own success. Larger portfolios require more work, and larger funds provide more management fees to financially support a team. As more solo GPs find success, the expectation is that many will hire their own staff to continue doing what they do best: investing.

Wether or not these hybrids blossom into full-fledged VC firms (large team, multiple partners, etc.) will depend on the ambitions of the GP. Regardless, these GPs are seeing an increasingly elevated standing in the VC world, leading to bigger and better opportunities.

“Starting a fund used to be inaccessible for most of today’s solo GPs and many established LPs preferred to back funds with two or more GPs,” Hoover said. “That’s all changing thanks to AngelList and the increased volume of LP capital from less traditional pools of capital. I think that’s causing the line between solo GP and venture firm to blur.”

Disclaimer

This document and the information contained herein is provided for informational and discussion purposes only and is not intended to be a recommendation for any investment or other advice of any kind, and shall not constitute or imply any offer to purchase, sell or hold any security or to enter into or engage in any type of transaction. Quotes included in these materials related to AngelList's services and should not be construed in any way as an endorsement of AngelList's advice, analysis or other service rendered to its clients.
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