Building the team

15Feb12

Posted on February 15, 2012 by Chris Arsenault at iNovia Capital

We are proud to announce that David Nault has joined the ranks of iNovia Capital as a full time Entrepreneur in Residence. Amongst his other responsibilities, he is specifically in charge of evaluating investment opportunities originating from Quebec and providing support to the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in our own backyard.

The last two months were very informative for us, as we diverted from a planned “hiring” process to more of a “team building” experience. I must admit that the change we encountered is reflective of how we are seeing our early stage companies build high performance teams. Here’s a summary of our experiences:

By the time we completed the first closing of iNovia Fund III, we had mutually agreed that we needed some additional manpower to help with future deal flow and to support our active portfolio. iNovia opened the new position in early December, and originally defined the role as being a Venture Capital Associate position. Our team then went out to find the best possible person to join iNovia: someone with the same DNA as the rest of us, but with complementary skills and experience. We quickly realized that the position (as we had outlined it) seemed very dry and technical – not representative of who we are and even less of what we were truly looking for in terms of personality and attitude. I don’t think we did a great job of describing the type of person we were actually seeking to hire.

However, we quickly realized that Karam had done a much better job of outlining his personal perspective of the opportunity in a blog post – A Job You’ll Love. When I read it, I got it – and more importantly, I felt it. Apparently, many others did as well, to the point that we discussed removing our official posting, and instead just asking people to read Karam’s blog post; If they felt compelled to work with such a dynamic and dedicated team, they could send us their LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle and a link to their blog. We would then get back to the person whose profile best fits the iNovia culture, and simply create the specific job position according to his or her skill set and personality.

However, as December became February, Fund III was announced, the holidays charged in, and we became focused on closing our first few Fund III deals plus completed the Tynt merger. Before we had time to move forward with the changes, we realized we had received over 150 applications, plus numerous emails and calls. I’m truly appreciative of the level of interest we got, and I’m especially impressed by the quality of the people that applied. We had candidates from across North America, and Europe, including:

- experienced operators and executives;

- top grade students, bankers and consultants;

- local entrepreneurs and former CEOs;

- and, even a few of our co-investors!

The candidates that stood out for me were those with whom we had developed a trusted relationship over time. In one telling moment, a fellow Partner asked me: “Chris, out of those you have on your short list, who would have been a natural fit at our recent team-retreat?” That was such a pertinent question! In our quest to find the right team member, we obviously seek the high level of competency required, the leadership and determination needed to survive, the additional experience and network of contacts that will best serve our portfolio companies. But, most importantly, we need someone with whom we have chemistry.

Chemistry is like that unknown x-factor we seek in the entrepreneurs we back, our co-investors we work with, as well as our close industry collaborators we lean on. Chemistry is what makes a relationship work. I used to believe that it was all about finding the right opportunity at the right time, and that things would pan out for the best if that was the case. Then I realized that this was only true when the right level of chemistry already existed that allowed each party to understand each other, to complement each other and to trust what is not always obvious to the eye.

That is what we found in David, someone with whom we had an immediate natural chemistry. His 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development will serve the best interest of our portfolio companies, but furthermore, his entrepreneurial drive is a perfect match to our DNA.

Welcome aboard David!

     

More on David Nault joining and the recent addition of Chris Emergui as Venture  Partner here.

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