Keji is Head of Network & Brand at Connect Ventures - a pan-European Seed Stage fund based in London, backing product-led founders. At Connect, Keji is responsible for all things brand relating to the firm, and on the network side of things, focuses on thinking through the best ways to help great founders grow into great leaders; and scale their companies from MVP to PMF as quickly as possible. In addition to her work at Connect, Keji serves as a mentor to female founders and leaders, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. Keji was recently included in the Financial Times list of Top 100 Influential BAME Leaders In Tech (2019)
How did you start working at Connect Ventures?
I always say my current role at Connect Ventures chose me.
I trained as a Barrister, then I was employee number 2 for LV a Fem start-up. I was then given a choice to pick an area I wanted to develop. Knowing I was a generalist, I decided to leave and to be a consultant to early-stage startups.
Then one day, I was randomly on Angel List when I saw an email from Connect Ventures. The job role asked for someone who wanted to build the community and carve something out.
Since then my role has changed a lot. Originally, I was the head of the founder network, creating the platform and how we add value. Then came the addition of operations, focusing on Connect Ventures as a company. Now I also head up branding that is, how people experience Connect Ventures.
Advice: A major bonus was working at a start-up. Studies have shown not enough funds have people who have worked in startups. At Connect Ventures everyone has worked in startups or are previous founders
What does BHM signify to you?
I love BHM as it is an opportunity to realise how little we know.
For me it signifies equality! Equality for me is equal opportunity. BHM provides a chance to highlight systemic structures that makes equality difficult.
What excites you about tech?
So much. But if I had to boil it down, for me, Tech equals opportunity. The democratisation of information and opportunity. It creates more freedom. For instance, the ability to work from anywhere. The opportunities are endless!
What made you transition from legal to the startup world?
Well, I have a healthy respect for the law. I did qualify as a barrister and I love the intellectual rigour that comes with it. That said, my sparkly personality meant that I felt that the law wasn’t the right place for me. So my transition came easy to me. I love the variety of startups I got to work with. I loved the learning curve. It was so steep but it has allowed me to be myself and meet lots of different people.
What inspired you to create your job board?
One of our previous founders Matt Berg created Job Garden and I thought it was a great idea! My job board contains jobs from all the companies in our portfolio. Which is super handy as I am regularly asked about which companies in our portfolio are hiring.
Top operation tips?
1. Get a generalist!
It's common for startups to wait too long to think about operations. If you get a smart generalist, could be a graduate, or anyone who's capable. Someone who wants to learn, someone who can pick things up with ease. With this kind of attitude to recruitment, you can solve future problems. Leaving founders focused on the task at hand.
If you can’t one, get a great virtual assistant. Seems like an unnecessary expense but best to delegate what you can.
2. Build a process
By building in a process earlier on you avoid a pile-up later and it creates discipline! One example of this is to have a set day and time of the week where you process invoices.