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Doubling Down on NYC: Joining Primary as Venture Partner

Steve Schlafman
Steve Schlafman
2 min read
Doubling Down on NYC: Joining Primary as Venture Partner

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m joining Primary Venture Partners as a Venture Partner. Over the last six years, Ben and Brad have been co-investors, thought partners and friends. Ever since the fall, they have been helping me think through a number of paths I have been exploring. That discussion evolved over many months, to the point where it became clear that we had a lot to gain from each other. This started as a super casual, “Hey, why don’t you come hang out for a while,” thing and evolved from there to the point where we realized it made sense to combine forces.

Ben, Brad and the rest of the Primary team are arguably building the most hands-on and operationally minded Seed fund in NYC. They do not spray and pray. They are active, high-conviction lead investors, and they care deeply. They are also focused exclusively on NYC, which was a huge factor in my decision. Everyone at the firm deeply believes in this ecosystem, and that is reflected not only in their strategy but also in how they are building the firm. Most importantly, everyone around the table has operational chops, strong values and a real desire to help NYC founders build impactful companies.

As I have peeled back the curtain and talked with founders in the portfolio, I have been blown away by the Primary platform. The firm’s Portfolio Impact Team, comprised of dedicated Talent, Finance, Market Development and Communications pros, is designed to support companies from whiteboard all the way to Series A and beyond. Additionally, the Primary Expert Network, a network of over 200 seasoned technology operators and functional experts, helps founders solve their most pressing tactical problems. They’re just getting started, too. Many firms these days claim they have a platform, but it’s often just “checking the box.” Not Primary. They’re investing aggressively and playing the long game to build a real franchise here in NYC.

Many people have asked me, “So what is a Venture Partner?” The title means different things at different firms. Here’s what I’ll be focused on: My first mandate is to find and partner with amazing founders building companies here in NYC. I’m amped to get back into the investment game after a brief hiatus. My second mandate is to help the firm with overall strategy. Over the last decade, I’ve been fortunate to work at some amazing firms and learn from many incredible investors and founders. I’m going to share lessons learned and potentially help operationalize some new programs. The third mandate is to support the existing portfolio with ad hoc executive coaching. I’m currently enrolled in an intensive transformational/executive coaching program, and I look forward to deepening my practice with the Primary family. Finally, I’ll have some freedom, space and time to explore a range of longer-term projects and paths.

Monday is my first day at Primary and I couldn’t be more excited to get started. If you are a founder or operator in NYC and are looking for advice, capital and/or executive coaching, my email is Drop me a note to say hello. I would love to support you on your journey.

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Exec coach. Writer. Student of Change.