Aeroplane turbine.

The View From Inside Blackbird’s Engine Room

Date Published:
June 30, 2020

First hand experience from Dan Danilov about the past 10 months spent working in Blackbird's Operations team.

Hello! I’m Dan, a Business Operations Analyst at Blackbird. In this post, I’d like to share what it’s like to work in the engine room of a VC firm, and in my completely unbiased opinion, there is none better than Blackbird’s legendary Operations team.

Although it's only been 10 short months, I’ve been intimately involved in Blackbird’s $100m return to Fund 1 investors, the launch of our first NZ Fund and the current fundraise for our fourth set of funds (more to come on this very soon).

Operations work is amplifying

In my first interview, Blackbird Partner and COO Alex Apoifis said to me “you’ll have plenty of opportunities to solve complex problems and upgrade how Blackbird is run”.

In my time so far at Blackbird, I’ve automated almost all of our investor onboarding processes, revamped the tool our investment team uses to allocate reserves for follow on investments and have managed the flow of funds for our $100m return to Fund 1 investors last year. At every step, I’ve constantly asked myself “how can this be done faster and better next time around?”.

Operations stand shoulder to shoulder with the broader team

At Blackbird, it is in our DNA that new approaches and novel ideas for solving problems will come from everyone, regardless of the team they are in. For our Ops team, this means we are encouraged to contribute to investment decision thinking, discussions on our strategy as a firm, and everything we do to improve our culture. Operations is such a key part of Blackbird that we’ve doubled the team since I joined and are still hiring! If that’s not enough, in typical Blackbird put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is fashion, all team members are given carry in our funds and are also shareholders in the management company.

Operations is Blackbird’s foundational layer

If I could pick one job that would have the largest cross-section of impact across Blackbird, it would actually be my own Business Operations role. No joke. In a recent Culture Amp 360 feedback survey I ran with the team, a co-worker said that when it comes to working with people across the business “Dan does everything, everywhere, all the time”.

Although this sounds like a not-so-humblebrag, it’s a genuine reflection on how wide my Ops role stretches. I even got involved in our epic office fitout! This links closely with my other top ‘strength’ as voted by the team - ownership. The Ops team doesn’t just support the other parts of Blackbird, but will step in to take the lead and own initiatives end to end.

I joined Blackbird because of the opportunity to help grow an iconic investment firm and the challenge of building out a world class operations team. Like the founders we invest in, we too have ambitions to develop our team and scale Blackbird's impact ten-fold.

If you’re interested in joining us on this journey, we are hiring for a Business Operations role like mine right now - click this link for more information via Applied. To hear more about what it’s like to be a Blackbird, check out our Work With Us page.