Venture capital partnerships such as ours are small and hire new partners infrequently. As a tight-knit, cohesive partnership that very much works together as a team, getting this right is especially important. A year ago, as we were early in investing out of our 2019 fund and looked forward to launching a new Flybridge fund 12-24 months from now, we decided to add a new General Partner to our team. We knew it would be the most important decision we would make this year.
We cast a wide net, hired a recruiter, reviewed 100s of candidates, and met with dozens. Our criteria were simple: we were looking for someone that was wildly curious, with tremendous investment judgment, who approached venture investing with innate founder empathy, brought with them a deep appreciation for the power of community and the connections to back that up. Importantly, we wanted someone who would fit seamlessly into our team – valuing our long history of working together while challenging us to lead in new directions.
With today’s announcement that Anna Palmer is joining the Flybridge team as a General Partner, we (immodestly) crushed this decision. Jeff, Jesse, and I are beyond thrilled to welcome Anna to the Flybridge Family.
I first met Anna in late 2012 when she launched her first company, FashionProject, out of the TechStars community. Immediately struck by her raw intelligence, creativity, and passion for making a difference through entrepreneurship, we stayed in touch as she built FashionProject into the industry leader in online designer clothing donation, building a community of tens of thousands of members and non-profits across 36 countries. But it was not until after the election in 2016 that we began to work together as collaborators and partners.
Anna identified a significant unmet investment opportunity in companies founded by women and wanted to partner with the Flybridge team to form a venture fund focused on investing in female-founded companies pursuing billion-dollar opportunities. Aligned with her vision and inspired by her ability to galvanize change, we jumped at the chance and formed XFactor Ventures.
Anna created XFactor’s unique model: we are a team of women, other than me, that are all current founders of venture-backed companies that are investing at the earliest of stages behind the next generation of founders seeking to build transformative companies. As active founders ourselves, we know first-hand the ups and downs of building a company and seek to support our portfolio founders with capital and the connections and mentorship to navigate the company building journey. We launched XFactor in July of 2017 and have since grown our community into an investment team of 22 founders in 6 cities and nearly 60 portfolio companies across two funds with over 80 amazing women founders and co-founders.
As we worked together over the last four years, in addition to seeing her drive in creating and building XFactor, we saw her instincts as an investor as she personally led seven investments for XFactor — including in Chief, Zubale, and MixLab — that are all performing incredibly well. Anna is extremely curious, can see connections from one industry that apply to another, has an excellent feel for important trends in the marketplace, and a natural sense for what companies will drive outsized value in the future. Not to mention she did all of this part-time while also launching, with a co-founder and our investment capital, her second company, Dough, from our offices.
Fast forward to September of this year. Driven by Anna and the investment team’s talents, the breadth of their networks, and the depths of their insights, XFactor’s success proved yet again that in early-stage venture investing, relationships and expertise are all that matter. XFactor’s network and expertise are very complementary to ours and there was clearly an opportunity to align our investment efforts more closely while still preserving the power of XFactor’s unique model. Thus, we leaped at the chance to add Anna to our team when she decided to become a full-time investor after Dough had reached a level of maturity such that she could hand over the CEO reins to her talented co-founder, Vanessa Bruce. Starting work 24 hours after saying yes, Anna joined to help us kick off our annual Founder’s Week, and in partnering together full-time over the last two months, it is like we have been working together for years…which, of course, we have been.
Anna will focus on the full range of B2C and B2B opportunities with a specific interest in community-driven companies, commerce 3.0 (logistics, discovery, payments, social commerce, small business solutions), marketplaces, and the everyday economy while also continuing to drive XFactor Ventures forward. You can read more on her Medium post here and follow her on Twitter here, but on behalf of the entire Flybridge community, please join me in congratulating Anna and welcoming her into our team!