Mar 28

InSITE fellows have breakfast with Spark Capital’s Mo Koyfman

What do 6 guys, 5 of whom are from Jersey, all have in common?

Well, aside from being unafraid to consume most of InSITE fellow Brian Ballan’s delicious hot sauce with our breakfasts, a truly rare opportunity to sit down for an intimate conversation with Mo Koyfman, General Partner of Spark Capital this past Wednesday. After discussing the subtleties and nuances of hot sauce flavor, Mo was kind enough to let us pick his brain on a variety of topics regarding his experiences and forging careers as budding entrepreneurs and early stage investors.  What follows are just a few nuggets of our conversation with Mo:

“Owning” an operational function is invaluable:

Whether it be sales, marketing, or business development the time is now for us to develop specific perspective and skill within a business’s core operational function. Rather than being a generalist, drilling down and developing specific competency that leverages your background, interests, and natural skills will prove to be an asset not only when building early stage businesses, but when adding value to portfolio companies as an investor.

Worrying about current cash compensation is a short-term oriented view:

Working for a startup with some developed scale provides an amazing opportunity to establish core operational/functional experience.  The amount of cash compensation you are/aren’t receiving is mostly irrelevant. Go find a startup and management team you are excited to help support, work hard, and fight for equity based compensation.  Over the longer term the value you derive both in the learning experience and monetarily will far outweigh the potential, near-term disparity in cash compensation.

Mo helped us understand the immense value of not just being open to risk and embracing non-traditional opportunities, but making “smart” decisions that de-risk these opportunities. We would like to thank Mo for his valuable perspective and hope that he enjoyed breakfast, hot sauce and all, as much as we did

Post written by Joseph Rizk (Columbia MBA 2012) and Imraan Ahmed (Columbia MBA 2013)

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