20VC: Accel’s Sonali De Rycker on Building a Generational Defining Venture Firm; Hiring, Culture, Incentives | Investing; Biggest Mistakes, Biggest Lessons from Prior Crashes, Why Market Size is Dangerous to Focus On | Decision-Making; Type 1 vs Type 2 Risk and Optimising Investor Psychology

Posted on 27th June 2022 by Harry

Sonali De Rycker is a Partner @ Accel, one of the leading firms of the last 3 decades with a portfolio that includes the likes of UiPath, Miro, Spotify and many more incredible companies. As for Sonali, Sonali led Accel’s investments in Avito (acquired by Naspers), Spotify (NYSE: SPOT), Primer, Monzo, Letgo (acquired by Naspers), Kry/Livi, Soldo, Hopin, and Sennder. Prior to Accel, Sonali was with Atlas Venture (now Accomplice). She also previously served on the board of Match.com (NASDAQ:MTCH).

In Today’s Episode with Sonali De Rycker You Will Learn:

1.) From Small Town in India To Leading Venture Capitalist:

  • How Sonali made her way from a small town in India to becoming one of the most prominent VCs of the last decade?
  • What were some of Sonali’s biggest lessons from seeing the booms and busts of 2000 and 2008? What climate does the crash today resemble more? Why so?
  • How does Sonali advise younger investors who have not lived through a downturn? What should their investor psychology be right now?

2.) Firm Building: Accel:

  • What are the most challenging and non-obvious elements of building a firm today?
  • What have been some of the biggest mistakes Accel has made when adding to the team?
  • What qualities does Sonali and Accel specifically look for when interviewing candidates to join the team? What specific questions tease out whether the candidate has these traits?
  • What specific structures do Accel have in place to encourage the team to work together as one cohesive unit? How do they use bonuses as a team incentive?

3.) Sonali: The Investor:

  • How has Sonali’s investing style changed over the years? What moments caused these changes to happen?
  • What are some of the biggest mistakes Sonali has made in her investing career? What did she learn from them?
  • On the flip side, from winners such as Spotify and Supercell, what did Sonali learn from her biggest winners?
  • Why does Sonali believe that market sizing and outcome scenario planning is useless and will lead you to make the wrong decision?

4.) Decision-Making and Risk:

  • What does Sonali mean when she speaks of Type 1 and Type 2 decisions? How should one’s decision-making process change according to which type of decision it is?
  • What are the two biggest risks startups are facing today? Does Sonali believe that seed stage companies will take money from crossover funds?
  • What does Sonali do when she loses faith in the founder? How does she communicate that to them in the right way? What have been some of her biggest lessons here?
  • What have been some of Sonali’s biggest lessons when it comes to reserves management? How does Sonali determine when to double down vs reserve cash?

Items Mentioned in Today’s Episode with Sonali De Rycker:

Sonali’s Favourite Book: A Fine Balance

Sonali’s Most Recent Investment: BeReal

Want the latest 20VC insights?

Get all of the insights from of our latest epsiodes and more in our monthly newsletter. All venture, no spam.