Foundry’s Newest Partner: Jaclyn Hester
by Lindel Eakman
We are thrilled to share the news that Foundry Group has a new partner. She’s someone many of you who are close to the firm already know: Jaclyn Hester.
We think of partners in the very literal sense of the word – someone whom we trust and work with in partnership; someone whose judgement and wisdom we rely upon; someone who embodies the values and the work ethic that we try to exemplify at Foundry. In the life of a venture firm – especially a small one like Foundry – new partners are few and far between. It’s an important decision and one that we don’t take lightly. For Jaclyn, who joined us in 2016, it’s deserved and well earned.
Jaclyn joined us after a few years of life in big law firms, where she worked on everything from startup formation and financing to large M&A processes. She first caught the entrepreneurship bug during graduate school at CU Boulder, and immersed herself in the local startup community, serving as the Executive Director of Startup Colorado. She has also lived the startup life with her husband, the inimitable Anders, and their family’s boot-strapped tour and activity software company that was successfully acquired in 2018 by Booking.com. These experiences combined with Jaclyn’s warm, extroverted, empathetic personality and her natural instincts, curiosity, and analytical prowess made her a great fit for venture and for Foundry. We were lucky to have her join us just as we raised our first Foundry Group Next (“FG Next”) fund.
Jaclyn has always been a key member of our team as we refined our strategy and built out FG Next’s portfolio of partner funds and direct investments. She has seen the successes and challenges of being a VC and understands the commitment of time and energy it takes not only to invest but to support portfolio companies as they grow, thrive, and sometimes struggle. She’s seen good exits and disappointing misses, celebrating positive outcomes with founders and consoling others.
In addition to the Foundry DNA, Jaclyn has had the advantage of exposure to many other venture firms. In her first few years at Foundry, she focused on working with Lindel to build out our partner fund portfolio and has been integral in constructing our portfolio of world-class managers. Many VCs grow up in one fund, perhaps jumping to two or three over the course of their career. Jaclyn has had the privilege to partner with and learn from more than 30 firms, and spend time with countless others.
In our role as a GP that also invests in other funds, we seek to help our partner fund managers build their own businesses and to partner with them on direct investments. This enables and requires a closer relationship than with traditional LPs. We often serve as a friendly sounding board for fund strategy, portfolio construction, fundraising, and individual deal positioning at entry and exit. As with founders in our portfolio, we’re often the first call for our partner funds when they’re facing a challenging situation or critical decision. We seek to collaborate across all elements, sharing our own successes and mistakes, while engaging with our partners to constantly learn and evolve as the venture landscape changes. Jaclyn has been in the middle of these conversations since day one and has become a trusted partner and advisor across the FG Next portfolio.
We consistently think about the world in terms of networks. Jaclyn’s super power, or “Zone of Genius,” as her Kauffman Fellows classmates would call it, is building trusted relationships. She has created her own network of peers, friends, and collaborators across the industry, especially amongst the next generation of VCs. She has earned a reputation for being a helpful advisor to emerging managers as they think about fundraising and firm-building. Through her network and unique perspective, Jaclyn brings valuable data, gleaned insights, and exciting investment opportunities to our partnership.