As we move beyond the cap table market, we’ve changed our name to Carta. Carta is about creating more owners by mapping and expanding the ownership graph.
It’s tempting to start your own company. The most elite venture capital firms have funded over 2,700 companies in less than ten years. That doesn’t even include all the other VC firms or angel investors. So what’s stopping you from taking the plunge? Well, it’s an intimidating endeavor. It’s hard to know what to expect.
Execute is a podcast documentary about the history of Carta and a blueprint for anyone who wants to build a startup. It covers the ups and downs of fundraising, the cultural challenges that result from scaling headcount, and the overall transition from a small, focused team into a legit, revenue-producing company.
I started at Carta pre-launch in 2013. I had been freelancing as a digital product designer to support myself while working on writing and independent film projects. Carta had just secured its official seed funding at the time. To give you a sense of how early this was for a cap table management company, my first feature was…the cap table. I had no intention of working at Carta full-time, but it was clear the startup was scaling fast and I wanted to be involved. Personally, and financially.
Having worked with a handful of early-stage startup teams, I could tell there was something different going on. The vision for the company was elevated, while the focus was grounded. Their approach to problem-solving was already unconventional, even by Silicon Valley standards. And there wasn’t the same sense of entitlement that I had experienced with founders from established tech companies. There was a palpable hunger.
As I got to know Henry, the CEO, I noticed a powerful detachment to his point of view. He could step outside of himself and laugh at a situation, while still taking it seriously enough to execute. Observing that empowering juxtaposition was critical in my own professional development. I had never met someone that could 100% own a challenge and still laugh at it the way I would.
Over the course of four years, I grew close to him and the rest of the team. Carta had scaled to over 350 people by the time I left. Meanwhile, I was moonlighting as a Forbes contributor and had saved up some money. It was time for me to focus on writing full-time, so I told Henry I was ready to move on. After one conversation, we decided my first project post-Carta would be a podcast documentary, about Carta.
This led to the founding of my own company. Hit Start Media creates in-depth audio documentaries for startups and venture capital firms. I have additional projects lined up for next year and I couldn’t be happier. Knowing that Carta is a healthy, growing company makes me happy too. I’m proud of the work I contributed and I’m excited to share the practical knowledge I accrued over the course of four years.
And the podcast was fun to make! I recorded over 90 interviews in six cities. It features the Carta team (including extensive, intimate conversations with CEO Henry Ward), venture capitalists, from firms like Union Square Ventures and Social Capital, and the former CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo.