What does an EIR do?Posted: August 8, 2009
I’m back after a looooong blogging hiatus. Yay, glad to be getting back into the swing of things.
So, @vijayv recently asked me:
Would you be able to tell me more about being an eir? Mainly Interested in role specifics/responsibility
I’ve had the honor of being an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) with two VC firms, Venrock and Matrix Partners. And through those programs, I’ve been lucky to have met and learned from many other entrepreneurs who have had way more success and experience than me. And if there’s anything I’ve learned about the EIR role, it’s that there’s no such thing as a “standard” EIR program. It’s kind of a “make it up as you go along” role (and that actually suits entrepreneurs very well). Quite frankly, there aren’t that many EIRs running around Silicon Valley all the time because most venture firms do not support EIR positions at all. Those that do will customize the role on a case-by-case basis.
At the highest level, I think we could say that EIR programs involve:
- working with partners at a venture firm whom you’ve previously worked with or gotten to know very well
- researching existing startups to find promising ones that you’d like to personally join or introduce to the firm
- ideating and creating new businesses
- helping the firm vett business pitches
Within those general activities, roles do vary a lot depending on each individual’s prior experience and their goals. E.g., some EIR’s are seasoned executives who are specifically looking for teams that they can pair up with to launch a startup. Other EIR’s are product innovators who are trying to launch new companies while incubated at the VC firm. Still others are entrepreneurs who are considering switching to become investors and are using an EIR program as a way of getting to know a firm.
And the specific arrangements that an EIR has with their host firm will vary a lot, too. Some EIRs are actual employees of the firm, some are contractors/consultants, others have no contractual relationship with the firm at all other than coming by to use a spare desk every once in a while. Most, but not all, EIRs are compensated by their firms; and compensation levels seem to vary significantly from corporate-executive-equivalent to ramen-subsistence-stipend.
There are significant benefits and risks associated with being an EIR and I’ll talk about those more in my next post.