The Head of Platform Series is a compilation of conversations between Evan Walden, Getro’s co-founder, and CEO, and VC platform operators who are sharing their approach to driving value for their portfolio companies. In this interview, Evan and Shannon Shroyer discuss network and engagement at Matchstick Ventures.
Meet Shannon! She has been in the VC space for four years. Former Sr Director at Techstars, active member of VC platform Global Community and Women in VC, she joined Matchstick Ventures over a year ago as the first Head of Network the firm ever hired.
Her strength? Shannon is a natural connector!
Fun fact before we dive into Shannon’s role: Shannon used to be a professional ballerina - evolving from one platform to another. 🙃
Watch highlights from the interview below:
Evan: To kick off the conversation, can you tell us how Matchstick defines “platform”? How do you describe your role?
Shannon: At Matchstick, my role is actually called Head of Network. The network is kind of the beauty behind the platform, right?
To describe my role as a “Head of Network,” I would say that it’s - more than anything - wearing multiple hats. It is like being the orchestrator across all the different parts and stakeholders of our ecosystem. In my day-to-day, the Head of Network job involves anything from coordinating and organizing events to managing our community - and working closely on connecting our founders to our mentors and co-investor friends. We’ve taken a network-based approach to supporting founders via this community to ensure they can get the best help, advice, and connections as fast as possible.
Part of the role is also to physically create a platform products that founders can use themselves, to speed up help and reduce friction. We have built a notion page that acts as a resource center for our founders. They find tools, guidelines, and any kind of resources we can think of. My ultimate goal is to help founders Google less!
Evan: One of Matchstick’s most active channels for engagement with founders is through your Slack community, can you tell us more?
Shannon: Community management (per se) is key for us. We expressly set up our slack community for founders, so they can help each other. It strengthens their relationship and allows quick answers to questions. We are trying to build a self-serving network of founders where they can hear from and help each other (and not only from Matchstick).
Looking around, I noticed that there are often too many channels with little engagement. I'd rather have too few channels that are busting and force us to get more granular. That’s how we consolidated to two Slack connect channels on #general and #help.
Evan: How do you use Getro?
Shannon: We use Getro as part of our onboarding process with founders. It starts by making sure they are set up as a company on our Getro job board, and all their job postings are showing up. I’ve also been working on launching the Matchstick talent network. Our goal with Getro is to help our companies access the best possible talent, as quickly as possible. We also have a huge network of talent that is interested in working at Matchstick companies, and Getro makes it really easy to get that talent in front of open positions in the portfolio.
Shannon’s Platform Toolkit
Evan: What are the things that surprised you the most about the Head of Network job?
Shannon: For me, the biggest surprise is how the same role of “Head of Platform” can differ from one VC to another - based on the strategy of the firm, the size of the team, the partners' ethos, and their expectations, but also the founders’ needs.
You may have a large team where one person will be fully dedicated to a particular aspect of the platform, like a talent partner or a business development person. I'm an operations-focused person, acting on my own, so I am doing a variety of things, focusing mostly on our network since this is our main strength.
Evan: Looking back right when you started your role, what advice would you give yourself?
Shannon: Probably that there is no playbook! So stop looking for it. You have to build your know-how based on your firm's strengths and what you’re good at. When I onboard founders, I tell them that you most likely have other investors… we’re all in this together. You might have someone who is great at talent and can help you specifically hire and can almost be your recruiter for you, that’s not us, but you should use each of us to our strengths.
At the end, you want to make sure that every single company has the support system they need to succeed. The future of this role will continue to evolve and I think the platform function will become even more important to firms in an economic downturn.
Evan: Last question! What advice would you give to someone new to this role?
Shannon: My best advice would definitely be to meet with as many platform folks as you can. I still dedicate a significant amount of my time to meeting new people (VC Platform is a great facilitator for this), connecting and exchanging with them as much as possible. Through those conversations, I get new ideas and develop better processes on how to do things. There are only so many ways to structure and develop your platform - so connecting with other Heads of Platform has been the most helpful thing for me.