Operator-investors: What they are + why they’re important

If you spend any time with startups, it’s not hard to notice the venture world revolves around founders and VCs – the people who start the companies and the people who fund their growth. But until recently there’s been a critical piece missing: Operators. Operator-investors have become a hot topic in venture capital lately, so let’s take a step back and talk about what they are and why they’re important.

What are operators? 

In the startup and tech world, operators are the senior leaders who build and scale companies as they grow. They’re not usually in the limelight; most often they’re the ones working quietly in the background, studying tactics, analyzing data, and figuring out what works. Operators are vital for the success of any startup because they’re the ones building the right infrastructure for scale and long-term growth. 

Why are operators important in venture capital?

Experienced operators – the ones who’ve gone through the product development, growth cycles, funding stages, hiring, and more – have exactly the knowledge new businesses need to grow and thrive. Yet operators haven’t typically been involved in the venture process; the industry just wasn’t designed for people who give 150% to their day jobs and use any time leftover for their families and friends. 

We wanted to bring operators into venture capital, so we created the Collective Venture Model, which brings together founders, operators, and VCs to find, invest in, and support the next generation of tech. The Collective Venture Model was designed to jive with the busy lives of today’s most respected tech operators, many of whom are women. These operator-investors bring not only their tremendous experience, but also empathy, critical thinking, and deep networks.

How the Collective Venture Model works 

Our operator-investors actively engage at every step.  

  • We collectively source. Our operator-investor LPs are our #1 source for inbound leads.
  • We collectively diligence. We engage our 130 operator-investor LPs for feedback.
  • We collectively partner. Our connections result in customer intros, exec/board referrals, and angel co-investments.

Beyond that, they share their expertise with our portfolio companies and offer advice through sessions on topics like building a world-class customer success org, establishing an ecosystem, and incorporating diversity in your executive team.

Our operator experience is unmatched

We’re proud to have a community of operator-investors as LPs to help our portfolio companies as they scale and grow: 130 ultra-talented leaders who bring decades of experience building and growing the world’s most admired companies. In fact, they bring more than 1800 years of collective operator experience. More than 65 of our LPs have built unicorns, at least 38 have taken their companies public, and at least 77 have founded a company. The amount of revenue they own and people they lead is staggering.

Operator Collective channels this experience to bring new perspectives and a welcome level of diversity to any cap table. Please connect with us here to learn more, join our community, or submit a funding proposal.

We believe culture, diversity, and operational excellence are a key part of building truly great companies. Learn more on our website or by connecting with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.