The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Parker Mitchell of Valence
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Parker Mitchell, CEO and founder of Valence a SaaS company building digital team-based tools that enable the world's largest companies to transform their organizational culture and improve performance.
Every coach's job is to build a team that's more than the sum of the parts. That's obvious in sports, but it's ever more clear that the best companies are helping their leaders do this as well. When employees are happy, they are more productive and stay longer; and a large part of that happiness has to do with their managers and co-workers. CEO Parker Mitchell founded Valence to help the world work better together by building a set of digital team coaching tools. Parker has a profound passion for aiding the development of positive, collaborative work cultures that improve individual and company performance. This stems from his diverse employment background, which we’ll let Parker explain later in the interview. Fortunately for him, he worked for companies that invested a lot in people, but unfortunately, we’re living through a period of change where managers, leaders, and employees everywhere need more investment and support. Lucky for us, Valence is providing just that!
Tell us about Valence.
Our mission is to help the world work better, together. We believe that one of the most important skills that people can build is the muscle of working better with a wider range of people, so we create tools that allow team leadership to improve and for people to work better with colleagues and teammates. There’s a vast world where people aren't getting the learning and development opportunities that they should. We thought we could take some of these principles of teamwork and facilitation, leadership, learning and growth, and put them into products and be able to scale them and offer them to millions of people.
How does Valence inspire “customer love”?
People are busy - so busy. We want to make sure we offer the best bang for their buck, and combine simplicity with insights. So the design instructions that I give everyone on the product team is that I want to return value to every user within 60 seconds of using it. We make it consumer grade and easy to use, knowing that people are super busy. And second, our insights are the result of thousands of hours of coaches using the tools and feeding back to us the insights that work - so we have distilled that and are able to offer hyper-relevant, personalized advice that people can immediately begin to act on.
Do you have a recent milestone you would like to share?
Our most recent client is a major food and beverage company with a brand that’s recognized worldwide. We will be working with them globally across their markets to help them transition from a more hierarchical organization to a more networked and fluid organization. They know they need to invest in teams because all types of different people will be working together and they were looking for a platform that could support that. We’re excited to help companies such as this scale practices across tens of thousands of people in many geographies around the world.
What makes you a unique founder?
I started out as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. I then spent 10 years co-founding and growing a nonprofit organization called Engineers Without Borders, where we mobilized engineers to tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality through innovative projects in various African countries. I also co-founded Significance Labs, a nonprofit that connects tech entrepreneurs with low-income Americans in order to build great products to meet their needs. I went from that to working as sort of the right-hand-man to the co-CEO of the world's largest hedge fund. The thread that really connects all my experiences and has led to where we are now is that I’ve learned to care deeply, deeply about culture and it’s something I’ve been focusing on for a decade and a half. I saw the potential of digital tools to build culture by helping people build better relationships, and have better lives at work and make more productive companies.
Do you have any advice for other founders?
Most founders tend to solve the problems they know, which is based on their own experiences. I think that’s a huge reason for the need for diversity of founders and supporting people with other backgrounds. I also think it’s important for founders or prospective founders to expose themselves to things that aren’t part of the normal path, to atypical environments, especially if you're a natural problem solver. It’s going to be a fun experience for you and promises to be helpful for the world.