Mark Fernandes began his career as part of the founding team of a display company, followed by product roles at Seagate and Cisco. After his MBA, he was a Wall Street research analyst covering the software sector at Robertson Stephens and Merrill Lynch. He joined Sierra Ventures in 2002 and focuses primarily on software. Some of his prior investments include Sourcefire (IPO; M&A – Cisco $2.7B) and portfolio companies sold to leading tech companies like Microsoft, Cisco, VMWare, Palo Alto Networks, Telstra, and more. Mark holds a BS from Mangalore University (India), an MS from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from Harvard University.
Areas of Expertise
- Cloud / Developer
- Digital Health
- Data & Analytics
Insights from Mark
At our stage of investing (Seeds and Series A), it’s obvious that the bet is on the founder(s).
- I’m looking at their ability to attract a rockstar team, investors, and customers.
- I’m evaluating their thoughtfulness about the market size, their GTM, unit economics, etc.
- I’m curious about their unique insights into the space, the competition, and their approach to it.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. Starting out my career as an engineer, I was so focused on the “How” and just did what my managers told me to do. As a product manager, I graduated to the “What” and focused on building the right mousetrap without much context. It was only after business school when I spent time as a Wall Street Research analyst that the importance of “Why” dawned on me. Why do some companies succeed? Why do the best founders hire like they do? Why do certain business models work best? For entrepreneurs, it’s critical to do your customer discovery, research the competitive landscape, and have a child-like curiosity about the reasons for tackling your market / problem.
Pack healthy snacks / lunch to work or on business trips. They might add a few years to your life.