USV Manager Bootcamp

Our USV Portfolio Network Team built a new offering last year called the USV Manager Bootcamp.

The idea is to offer management training classes to our portfolio companies that are too small to be able to offer those classes themselves.

Last week was the sixth bootcamp and the self reported results are pretty impressive:

As I tweeted out last week, this is something other VC firms can do as well. It’s a perfect example of something that works for a portfolio of companies.

If you want to learn more about how this works, our Portfolio Network Team wrote a blog post about it last week.

#management#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. JLM

    .This is a brilliant initiative. It provides peer-to-peer learning, the most powerful type of learning amongst professionals.I hate the name “Bootcamp.” In the military, bootcamp, or basic training, is the lowest level of training and it is used to take a green recruit and turn them into a soldier. It is not a very high level of training. When a soldier reports to a unit, they are called a “boot” which is a pejorative term.The highest ROI in business is in training. It is tragic so few companies do any meaningful level of training. It is, literally, transformative. The best training trains the trainers (CEOs) to train the company.You might want to elevate the cache by renaming the course to something which is more uplifting. You are, after all, teaching transcendental skills.There is a fascinating story of how the Army came to call Special Forces Special Forces. It revolves around the necessity for the name to set it apart from the entire army immediately without being odd. It worked. The second you hear somebody is SF, you get it.SF starts with the same raw material, doctrine, tactics, equipment as straight leg infantry, but it is the training, the battle drill (a product of training), and the resultant leadership which sets it apart.It is also important to publicly acknowledge the completion of such training. When an officer reports into a unit with a Ranger tab and jump wings, they make a hole for him at the bar. Try to come up with some recognition which alerts the organization as to the transformative training.Bravo and drive on.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Joe Cardillo

      +1 to that last point, having some type of “certified by” or badge function not only helps other folks identify “this is someone who knows/cares about growth and learning” it’s also an intrinsic motivator for many learning styles.And of course at the CEO or senior exec level your deliverable is really hiring and growing people who take care of the value you’re supposed to be delivering, incl. revenue.

    2. MalePMS

      Let me take a stab at creating a JLM comment (the algo is in beta):In 993, the Khitan invaded Goryeo’s northwest border with an army that the Liao commander claimed to number 800,000. After a military stalemate, negotiations began between the two states, producing the following concessions: Firstly, Goryeo formally ended all relations with the Song dynasty, agreed to pay tribute to Liao and to adopt Liao’s calendar. Secondly, after negotiations led by the Goryeo diplomat Seo Hui, Goryeo formally incorporated the land between the border of Liao and Goryeo up to the Yalu River, which was at the time occupied by troublesome Jurchen tribes, citing that in the past the land belonged to Goguryeo, the predecessor to Goryeo. With this agreement, the Khitans withdrew. However, in spite of the settlement, Goryeo continued to communicate with Song, having strengthened its defenses by building fortresses in the newly gained northern territories.In 1009, General Gang Jo of Goryeo led a coup against King Mokjong, killing him and establishing military rule. The Liao attacked with 400,000 troops in 1010, claiming to avenge the murdered Mokjong. Gang Jo blocked the Liao’s first attack, but he was defeated in the second one and was executed. King Hyeonjong of Goryeo was forced to flee the capital, which was sacked and burnt by the Khitan,to Naju temporarily. Unable to establish a foothold and fearing a counterattack by the regrouped Korean armies, the Khitan forces withdrew. Afterward, the Goryeo king sued for peace, but the Liao emperor demanded that he come in person and also cede key border areas; the Goryeo court refused the demands, resulting in a decade of hostility between the two nations, during which both sides fortified their borders in preparation of war. Liao attacked Goryeo in 1015, 1016, and 1017, but the results were indecisive.In 1018, Liao assembled an army of 100,000 troops to invade Goryeo. In preparation, General Gang Gam-chan ordered a stream to the east of Heunghwajin to be dammed. When the Khitan troops crossed the Yalu River, Gang Gam-chan opened the dam and attacked the enemy troops with 12,000 mounted troops, catching them by surprise, inflicting severe losses, and cutting off their line of retreat. The Khitan troops soldiered on and headed toward the capital, but were met with stiff resistance and constant attacks, and were forced to retreat back north. Gang Gam-chan and his troops waited at Gwiju and surrounded the Khitan, annihilating most of them. Barely a few thousand Liao troops survived after the Battle of Gwiju. In the next year, however, the Liao assembled another large army. Understanding the difficulty of achieving a decisive victory, the two nations signed a peace treaty in 1022.I am a powerful, wealthy, white person in Austin By God Texas. Hear me roar!JLM

      1. JLM

        .D minusMore paragraphs. Bit more elegant prose, please.Forgot to note that I am also “male.” That is important these days.I think you got some of the dates wrong. The peace was in 1023.Most importantly, what does this say about you, your anonymity?Have a great day.JLM http://www.themusingsofthebigredca...

      2. JamesHRH

        There’s a good idea in here, but the execution is poor. As anyone can tell you, that doesn’t cut it in startups or in satire.People with a strong personal style are easily caricatured.People without are….well, hiding behind anonymous online names would be one answer.

  2. Adam Sher

    Going to an executive bootcamp next week, which is sponsored by the PE company. I’m very much looking forward to it. The investors can provide a lot of value beyond dollars to their portfolio companies, which should increase the companies’ chance of financial success.

    1. Patrick Lord

      You are right

  3. Adam Sher

    Does USV track the improvement of the bootcamp attendees beyond a self-report?

    1. Patrick Lord

      Maybe not

      1. Adam Sher

        I imagine the financial benefits are hard to measure but without a known benefit to the operating business, bootcamps are just amenities like Jacuzzi tubs or roof decks (i.e. demand-based trends).

        1. Bethany Crystal

          We are also asking the managers who recommended each participant to report on overall progress in these areas. Still “fuzzy metrics” but it does help to get a sense for where the perceived impact is on both sides.

          1. Adam Sher

            It’s a start!

  4. jason wright

    a ‘bootcamp’ always sounds like a daunting prospect, one to endure and not enjoy.if I ever do a ‘flipflopcamp’ there’ll be ice creams and hammocks.

    1. JamesHRH

      People get up for these challenges though. Break in routine.

      1. jason wright

        A Vacation Camp? I get that. it needs to be fun.

  5. sigmaalgebra

    Yup.”Charm School”!!!Looks like a reasonably well designed charm school!Two-thirds of survey respondents said that in 2017, they expected to spend a lot of time thinking about better ways to collaborate with other teams internally.Yup! People tend to do that until they get a really swift kick in the back side from the fact that usually the Chiefs are very much against their Indians talking with the Indians of another tribe, even in the same company and even just down the hall.Some of this common organizational behavior was captured nicely in a James Bond movie where crusty Q, the guy with all the technical toys, told his new assistant “You are not here to think. You are here to do what I tell you.”.The blog post gets an A on both “content” and “style”: The style is good, but the content is harder and also good. At the end of that blog post is “Bethany Marz Crystal” — she did good work!

    1. Adam Sher

      Sometimes I think I learned about America from South Park and Family Guy (at least all of the Broadway songs) and about the World from James Bond.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Eventually I concluded that the guy who did the early Bond movies wanted to give some good mentoring, maybe fatherly advice, to adolescent boys: So, we find out via some striking, often outrageous, examples about money, power, sex, good/bad guys, good/bad girls (Bond talk for young women), aggressive/submissive girls, and more. Some of his lessons, even with some of his exaggeration, are good.I long assumed that the characters, situations, etc. were just movie fantasy and not significant for real life; eventually from real life I learned that some of the Bond movie examples were nicely insightful and good examples of some of what can be the real situation.E.g., the Q example “… you are here to do what I tell you” is close to a lot in the real world of work.IIRC the guy was Albert Broccoli? If he actually experienced all of that, then he had one heck of a life and, even more amazingly, lived through it as long as he did!For me, some of the Bond girls are dreams!!!!One of the best was Dink early in Goldfinger — spectacular hair, face, figure, and really good by the hotel pool giving a message! Google searchGoldfinger Dinkshows that in the movie she was wearing a blue, one piece bathing suit and that she was Margaret Nolan:…Ah, but last night, for my movie to watch on the way to sleep, after I got tired again of the endings in both Lawrence of Arabia and Braveheart, I started the Peter Sellers A Shot in the Dark with Elke Sommerhttps://upload.wikimedia.or…real competition for Margaret Nolan!Ah, the Internet!!!!! Is that really what ARPA had in mind with TCP/IP???? Maybe not, but there is a lot great about the Internet that no doubt ARPA didn’t have in mind!!!!!

  6. Rob Underwood

    Looks like these are focused, rightly and understandably, on leadership, talent development, and overall strategy. Speaking just for myself, but I’m guessing some other “regulars” on the board too, would love to hear if there are ways to contribute to any further add-on classes you might do focused on either verticals (e.g., education, CPG) or functional area (sales channels; finance and accounting). Seems like there is a lot of diversity of expertise and background here on the board to draw on.

  7. Pointsandfigures

    I feel like this shouldn’t be a “boot camp” but a continual process that takes place over time. We recommend that every company we invest in go to which is similar to USV’s thing-except it is a 9 month process. Companies that go through it triple top line revenue after going through it. They are managed better.

  8. ShanaC

    Why is feedback an outlier?

    1. Quantella Owens

      Ok, I’m tossing a half penny here because I’ve recently experienced some very upsetting responses to feedback from IM people whose lists I was formerly subscribed to….they uniformly either a) get outraged that I dared to ask a question or b) get mad and accused me of, and I’m quoting directly here from a name you would recognize, “picking a fight.” Now, I honestly, emphatically was not. And when I am…I generally let people know by verbal signaling, but this person took offense at a real simple clarification to a blanket statement and was, imho, quite rude about it.I think that in general people just don’t want to talk about “it.” And “it” can be anything.But touchy subjects, like personal achievement/success or lack thereof, money and their status within a high performance team, the striations within the group, etcetera might explain their general reticence. In my example above, we were discussing “racism” a more highly flammable topic right now probably can’t be found anywhere, but I was careful to keep all my words in lowercase and there were no punctuation marks expect for periods at the ends of sentences.I still felt it best to unsubscribe…and maybe the people in that class felt it best to be less communicative. Whether it is via email or face to face, the end result is the same.

  9. sigmaalgebra

    Of course another way to evaluate the boot camp intervention, treatment, effect is to have a control group.And how to evaluate options in the treatments? Well to be up to date as of maybe 80 years ago in the corn fields of the school of agriculture of the University of Iowa, e.g., with TeX markup:George W. Snedecor and William G. Cochran,{it Statistical Methods,Sixth Edition,/}ISBN 0-8138-1560-6,The Iowa State University Press,Ames, Iowa,1971. right, analysis of variance.

  10. JamesHRH

    How long until large companies with great training reputations just start plucking people right out of HS?Startups could do the same, especially if they were funded by an established VC with significant training support.Universities produce way to many people with skills that are not in demand and far too many faux intellectuals.Think of the social signalling of having your LinkedIn profile littered with Amazon Dist. Excellence Dip. or a Google Data Center Innovation Cert. etc.Or, maybe they will just open up online courses as a marketing ploy / employee search channel.Great stuff.

  11. Quantella Owens

    @modsIs this for the purpose of improving the success rate? Not being critical, just asking a question about strategy. Perhaps I’ve missed the reasoning since I’ve been on self-enforced sabbatical…I’ve looked at several VC funded failures lately because they confuse the ^&%$ of of me. I get the market stuff and product /market fit stuff, but I find, for example, HomeJoy’s implosion mind-boggling. Home ownership is a constant problem and with boomers wanting to age in place, millennials wanting a better budget fit so they don’t suffer the fate of their parents in the GFC and singles etcetera….I can’t imagine how they failed. I’m left with thinking that more VC support would have helped them tremendously. They also could have tapped the AirBnB market and the corporate rental market and on and on. I am wondering why, besides the lawsuit, they weren’t sold to a new team? Anyone with any insights that they don’t mind sharing? And yes, I realize it’s old news for most, but real estate is a constant and this particular company is an earbug for me, I just can’t stop thinking about it..

  12. fredwilson

    i don’t want anyone promoting token stuff here at AVC. i am going to take down these comments and update my commenting policy to reflect that.

  13. Pointsandfigures

    I think you should let “Blockchain” Howard Lindzon sell his personal tokens first. : )

  14. jason wright

    about time

  15. JamesHRH

    Only downside is that we can’t reply to self regulate this wanker.