I had never heard about the position of Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR in short) until it was offered to me last week by Boris from The Next Web.
An Entrepreneur in Residence can have different roles depending on the type of company it is working for, usually Venture Capital firms, Law firms or Universities. The NY Times describes it as:
Entrepreneur-in-residence is one of those only-in-Silicon-Valley jobs. Smart people get paid to sit around and think about new ideas, and investors get the chance to join an entrepreneur early in a new project, betting that lightning will strike twice.
But what does that really mean? There are two clear types of EIR in my opinion:
Entrepreneur is looking to start his next company
The Entrepreneur usually just finished his last venture and is in between startups. He might be looking for the next big thing, a new co-founder, a new investment round or is just shaping his ideas for execution. To keep him off the streets he is offered the position of EIR at an investment firm. Entrepreneurs have a unique skill set only Entrepreneurs possess. They know how to build successful companies. It’s an unusual position with no pre-scripted work days. EIRs are present at the firm and give advise where needed, do due diligence on new startups coming in, mentor new Entrepreneurs and help out where needed until they fall in love with one of the companies coming in (and join them) or they start a company of their own (usually funded by the investment firm they work for).
Entrepreneur is looking to mentor new Entrepreneurs
Usually a seasoned Entrepreneur with years of experience willing to give something back to young Entrepreneurs. This role is usually held at Universities, but Jason Putorti, the lead Designer at Mint.com holds a Designer in Residence position at Bessemer Venture Partners, helping new companies to build “simple, intuitive and engaging web sites”. The Harvard Business School has a long running program inviting HBS alumni Entrepreneurs to become an Entrepreneur in Residence for a full academic year to mentor and inspire HBS students.
The EIR working at a law firm usually has one of the roles mentioned above to assist clients of the firm.
Pros and Cons
Being an Entrepreneur in Residence gives you a unique insight into the VC or Startup Hub perspective. Normally an Entrepreneur sits on the other side of the table, but now he has full access to all knowledge of the firm he is working for. The EIR also has the possibility to vet its new ideas to the guys who should know if something will be a hit or not and can discuss new business models without fear of not winning a pitch.
Being an EIR at a VC also has some disadvantages. The VC is probably going to invest in your new startup and your EIR could scare other VC’s away, but these cons are minor compared to the advantages.
Being an EIR
The position of Entrepreneur in Residence is no longer an only-in-Silicon-Valley job or Amsterdam really looks more like Silicon Valley every day, because starting today I am an Entrepreneur in Residence at The Next Web.
The Next Web is a unique combination of an Event organizer, Tech blog and startup incubator. Most of the people at the TNW Offices here in Amsterdam are running or working for startups like Twitter Counter, Feest.je and Shoudio. My Entrepreneur in Residency is not meant to be a full-time job, but encourages me to try out new concepts, meet everyone I could possibly want to meet and at the same time share my knowledge and experience with the TNW team. I feel honored that this position is offered to me and am exited to be part of The Next Web for a while. Certainly to be continued.