We’re entering year five of TheVentureCity’s journey, and there’s no better time to welcome to the team a female founder-turned-investor who is the embodiment of what our organization stands for. Borderless entrepreneurship. A diverse mindset beyond the numbers. Respect for the enormous potential of startups, and the willingness to give them a leg up in a competitive world. Marie Berry will be our first ever Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and our newest Operating Partner - as seen in Venture Capital Journal.
Laura González-Estéfani, our Founder and CEO, sat down with Marie to explore the globe-hopping life journey that led her to the doors of TheVentureCity, and how her vision of entrepreneurship reinforces that of the fund.
“This is an inflection point for TheVentureCity,” Laura says. “After years of spectacular growth, we’re focusing on broadcasting our identity as a uniquely global, borderless and community-driven fund.
“With her dynamic experience working in international marketing for some of the world’s biggest companies, moving on to launch two startups - both exited - and eventually become an angel investor, there is no better person than Marie to perfect our image in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Marie’s mission will be twofold: as CMO, she will elevate our brand; as Operating Partner, she will accompany startups on their journey with invaluable mentorship in messaging and brand development.
Laura: Why did you decide to make the move from founder to the world of venture capital?
Marie: I started angel investing a few years ago, after my first exit. It was my way to pay it forward. I know that as a founder, early checks, advisers - and early believers - are so crucial. Not just for the money, but for one’s sanity! So I exercised my investing muscle organically, without ever thinking I would become a VC.
But now, I don’t see this as a career shift towards investing, I see it as a continuation of building businesses. Before, I was in the driver’s seat. Now, I’m the passenger providing support on other founders’ journeys.
Why is TheVentureCity’s model and culture the right fit for you?
I was so drawn to TheVentureCity because everyone there is a former founder or operator. There’s that feeling of “we’ve been in the trenches,” without anyone needing to say it. After spending a few days in the office, I can see how our investors go beyond the norm in their relationships with their founders. Every VC fund says “we’re founder-first and help you in your toughest moments.” But those are often just marketing slogans (which is a funny thing for a marketer to say). The reality is that in their toughest moments, founders often think they can't go to investors, because they might pull their financing or make decisions on their behalf.
But TheVentureCity really is a family - whenever I talk to portfolio companies or external tech players about the fund, the words “community” or “family” always come up. That’s so special, and also a great differentiator for me to convey as CMO.
What are you hoping to accomplish at TheVentureCity?
My goal is to position TheVentureCity as a top tier fund. I want TheVentureCity’s visibility to grow as large as their promise, and to eventually be top of mind for founders around the world. We have multiple offices in the United States and Europe, and over $150M in management. I want a young Brazilian fintech founder with global ambitions to know that TheVentureCity is the place for them, even pre-seed. I want a first-time entrepreneur with a killer web3 app to come to us because we’re one of few funds offering an experienced in-house data science and product team.
How do you think you can fuel diversity in the entrepreneur ecosystem in your new role?
One of the unspoken traits of TheVentureCity is that diversity is just the norm. Not just in race and gender, but in age, in the way people think. It’s the perfect place to land for someone with my background. I was adopted from Bolivia and raised in Germany; I lived in London, Madrid, Paris, and Shanghai before moving to the United States. People say I’m a person of the world, and while this sounds very glamorous, there were also a lot of tough moments. I was always the odd one out. Learning how to live with that, and turning that into a strength, is something that I’ve done personally. I’m proud of my diversity, and of the resilient person it made me. At TheVentureCity, I see a lot of that in the eclectic group of founders and team members. We have a mix of nationalities and offices all around the world; everyone has lived abroad at some point, and we're all excited to learn from each other.
As investors, that also gives us somewhat of a mutual attraction toward the overlooked founders. TheVentureCity always says that talent has no zip code. Because of who we are, we get excited when a founder like that walks in - we understand where they're coming from.
How has your journey as an entrepreneur and angel equipped you to mentor and guide these young startups?
Anyone who’s built their own company has an inherent understanding of what a founder is feeling when an investor says no, or when you’ve had a customer churn who you thought would be a cash cow, or when you need to fire a team member. It’s so much harder to connect emotionally with someone who hasn’t actually been through it.
I’ve also always pushed founders to think beyond borders from the beginning. Everyone starts in their niche, but in today’s world, startups need to work on their go-to-market plans with future global expansion in mind. Knowing from day one that forces founders to think bigger.
Why do you think marketing is so important for young startups?
I think of marketing more as a storytelling process. Teams have to be continually thinking about the story they’re telling with their journey and brand. Initially, they’re selling their mission to employees to get them on board. Then, they’re selling their vision to investors, and their product to customers. The story is the most important throughline, then when they hit real growth, they can amplify that message across channels.
What excites you about the potential of your new role?
Startups are scrappy and nimble, and I see them as the SWAT teams for the world’s problems. I was thrilled to help build those solutions with my own companies, and now I can’t wait to see how TheVentureCity can give oxygen to the most progressive - and perhaps underestimated - companies out there.