Periodically, we feature a member from our Team to provide a behind the scenes look at the people that make it all happen at the firm.
Featured This Month:
Joyce Lee – Vice President of Finance, Sierra Ventures Operations Team
What is your role and focus at Sierra Ventures?
I am Vice President of Finance on the Operations Team. I am responsible for the accounting, financial reporting, and tax compliance of the firm’s investment funds, as well as budgeting and cash flow analysis for the company that manages all of our funds.
How did you get into Venture Capital?
While in public accounting at Ernst & Young, I audited a variety of companies including large public companies and small startups in industries ranging from software to biotech. Through this experience, I realized that it was the private startups that interested me the most. The idea of backing awesome entrepreneurs, investing in them and watching them succeed seemed very interesting, and it was compelling to see this being done at scale. So I left public accounting and joined Sierra Ventures 12 years ago, initially as Assistant Controller.
What Finance tools or resources do you recommend for entrepreneurs?
- Take an Excel course. This one is pretty basic. Among the computer programs which exist, Microsoft Excel is one of the most important workplace applications. Regardless of what you do in the office, chances are there’s some way that Excel can be helping you do your job better. Whether it’s organizing your data more efficiently, streamlining your workflow through automation, or communicating your ideas, Excel can help!
- Learn how to read Financial Statements. Financial statements give entrepreneurs insight into how their company is performing. It is crucial for entrepreneurs to understand how to read a financial statement, including cash flows. Otherwise, they might never have the correct view of whether the company is managing its money wisely.
What are the top three pieces of advice you have for entrepreneurs?
- Invest in good people. Hang out with people who you admire and respect and build a team to bolster your success. Know your weaknesses and recruit for a team that can complement you.
- Do the time. No one succeeds overnight. Be prepared to invest time in your company.
- Spend wisely. It’s easy to spend too much on foolish things and run out of capital too soon.
If you had to recommend one book to an entrepreneur what would it be?
The last book I read was Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou. There’s a lot entrepreneurs can learn from the rise and fall of a startup. To start, a company needs relevant experts on its Board of Directors. Their board was largely comprised of “trophy” board members – someone with a big name who brings credibility and connections to the company but is not an expert in the relevant space. The book also tackles some serious ethical questions when it comes to running a startup. It is definitely a page-turner full of bizarre details that are almost too wild to believe.
What is your best “life-hack”?
Review your weekly schedule on Sunday evenings. If you can take an eagle eye view approach on Sunday, you can game plan and make the work week a lot easier.
Anything else we should know about you?
I love Japanese cuisine and have tried almost all “Omakase” menus in the Bay Area. Oh, and my husband and I just had our first baby! We were so excited to welcome Jeremy to the family in October of last year.