Our 22 GGV NextGen Fellows have spent the summer interning at eight of our portfolio companies. Beyond offering summer internships at GGV portfolio companies, this year’s NextGen Fellowship included interactive sessions led by GGV investors, early-stage founders, early-career tech professionals, and professors in design thinking and entrepreneurship.
Through these weekly sessions, I’ve been struck by these college students’ ambition and excitement to make a difference through innovation and technology. During the program, they spoke openly about their fears of failure, expressed curiosity about what makes great leaders, and shared aspirations to transform their ideas into enduring companies.
After engaging with each other, myself, the speakers, and leaders in the GGV community, these NextGen Fellows are ending the summer with the resources needed to be bold, fail fast, and make an impact. And their compassion and kindness made a deep impression—as we wrapped up our final session, they even surprised me with hand-drawn signs expressing their gratitude for the GGV community. I’m so proud of this group and thrilled to know these entrepreneurs who are shaping the next generation.
There were a lot of learnings this summer—here are some of my favorite takeaways that are relevant no matter what career stage you’re in:
Hans Tung, Managing Partner at GGV: “When you have to make a decision with very limited information, it’s always scary and you’re always unsure. So you look for different clues and data points to help you to gain a little bit of an edge. But the key things to remember are to be mentally strong, not be afraid to make a mistake, do something, iterate on top of that, and get better.”
Glenn Solomon, Managing Partner at GGV: “One of the key things I look for in a founder is the ability to be an incredibly fast and rapid learner. It’s really hard to build a startup into a successful company, and the phases change so rapidly that nobody is born with or has all the requisite skills and experiences to achieve at every phase of growth. For a founder to be successful as a leader of a fast-growth company, she or he needs to recognize that their job will keep changing—at every phase, the job and what is required changes. No one knows everything they need to know on Day One. And so you've got to be a really good learner.”
Jeff Richards, Managing Partner at GGV: “Both through my own career as an entrepreneur and then backing lots of founders—we see a lot of ups and downs … I was lucky to have a giant failure early in my career because it sort of gets you over the hump of like, ‘Well, it didn't work. Now what do I do?’ And you don't have that fear anymore. So it was very difficult at the time, but it was a great experience for me … Just go pursue things you want to work on, work with great people, and it'll take care of itself, which is hard to hear when you're young. But it's true.”
Lisa Kay Solomon, Designer in Residence at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford: “The context is switching so fast that we need to be thinking about our role as leaders and entrepreneurs more as designers and less like mechanics, where we are tweaking old solutions … I fundamentally believe that most work and learning gets done through relationships, not through technology. The technology is the execution of it, but it happens because of trust. It happens because of the connection that you have. And you really can think about them through the lens of design. What relationships do you want to design?”
Rosa Bazyluk, Head of Talent Acquisition at Chief (a GGV portfolio company): “Conscious companies are doing the work to eliminate barriers to entry. When potential candidates look at a job description, typically females and underrepresented minorities will not apply to roles if they don't check every single box. At Chief, we’re eliminating requirements on a JD that don't need to be there; specifically, required years of experience, degree requirements, etc. But there are plenty of companies that are not taking that extra step. If you asked those companies if they'd still want to speak with a candidate who met 75% of the requirements on their JD, they would say yes! So go ahead and tell yourself: ‘OK, I meet the majority of the requirements and have a transferable skill set—I have nothing to lose and everything to potentially gain by applying.’ Make sure your resume is tailored to the pieces of the JD that you do have experience with, and then go for it!”
Lindsay Hyde, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School in the Entrepreneurial Management unit: “The reality is that most startups will fail. So how do you fail well? How do you bounce back? … I lived the experience of being a ‘failed’ founder. I didn’t have the frameworks to help guide me. I teach [the ‘Avoiding startup failure’ course at HBS] in part as a result of my own experience and to change that for future entrepreneurs.”
Armed with this inspiring advice, helpful frameworks, and the support of the GGV network and community, we believe the future of entrepreneurship is brighter as the 2022 cohort of GGV NextGen Fellows jumpstart their own careers.
Beyond our guest speakers, we also wanted to thank our participating portfolio companies who welcomed our fellows this summer:
We’ll be opening applications for the 2023 cohort in January so stay tuned.
Learn more about the NextGen Fellowship