Clearstone Associates, previously at Lead Edge Capital
Where To Find Them
Type of Investing
Tell us about your background from high school to college
- Zach's dad was a banker on Wall St. so he grew up around bankers, lawyers, and founders.
- He saw how hard everyone worked (his dad got home late most nights) so when he got to college, his initial plan was to go into banking like his dad did.
- His dad was the one who told him that banking was tough for a marriage and a family, so Zach decided that he would pursue investing instead.
How did you decide on investing while in undergrad?
- Early experiences in college taught Zach the importance of just working hard, which is what drove him towards consulting, banking, and entrepreneurship.
- Due to his dad's advice about banking, he decided not to pursue banking and instead founded his first startup, which did very well (won competitions) and taught him a lot.
- Ultimately, the startup didn't work out and he did a few internships in investing and put his own money into the stock market as well. That's what really made investing click for him.
What were your most impactful experiences during undergrad?
- Having a mentor. His dad was always there to give him advice and answer any and all questions, even if they weren't the smartest questions.
- Getting good grades. Having good grades opened a lot of doors for him.
- Doing a startup. Taught him a lot about being a doer.
- Putting money into the stock market. It teaches you to think about business models.
What's the biggest piece of advice you have for students?
- Make yourself extremely interesting. Do interesting things with your time. There are a million smart kids from Ivy League who are competing for the same jobs you are. At the end of the day, it'll be the person that the employer enjoys spending time with that gets the job.
What were some low-value activities that turned out to be a waste of time during undergrad?
- I missed an opportunity to be more scholarly about my learning. I went to school and just got good grades and focused more on doing, instead of really focusing on the learning.
- Dedicating a lot of time to getting good grades eats up a lot of time, which could be used doing other things. Some of his peers got lower GPAs but are doing amazing things in the industry still.
- Working during school is tricky because there are more effective things to do with your time and paying off a loan after college isn't that hard.
Tell us about your first job out of undergrad
- Interviewing is a game and I was really scrappy about it.
- Found a company in the industry they invest in so he could talk about it in the interview.
- Identified who the real decision-makers were.
- Asked really good questions and wrote him a handwritten note afterwards.
How did you manage the learning curve during your first internship?
- The most important thing is getting reps in. Evaluating lots of businesses, talking to lots of people, etc.
Advice about Recruiting
- Be incredibly scrappy and proactive. Put yourself forward and show that you can do the job on day zero.
How did you decide to quit your job and start your own firm?
- He closed a deal at Lead Edge that went very well, but wanted to move to Utah for personal reasons. So instead of jumping to a new firm, he decided to start his own.
- For him, he likes working for himself because it gives him a lot of flexibility for family and his faith.
How do you think about fundraising and closing deals?
- It's about winning their heart, not winning their wallets
- So do the little things for them. Show them that you're nice. Remember an anniversary or a birthday. Share a deal with them without asking for a fee. Talk about what's interesting and important to them.
What's your advice for getting ahead in investing?
- Go invest in the stock market. Or do a private company or real estate deal. If you have no money, do the work and bring it to a rich guy. Throw out your TV and do more with your time.
- Learn business models. Compare two public companies every week. Learn how they make money.
- Admit you're not good at stuff. Talk to experts about what they've learned.
- Find a mentor.
- Begin with the end in mind. Don't get on a train that's headed somewhere you don't want to go.
- BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT.