“I want the position of VC psychologist to become mainstream. It makes sense, and the industry needs to learn that, but there’s a lot of work to be done. Investors need to ask themselves “what kind of person do I want to be for my founders” so they want to speak up. There really isn’t a conflict of interest, we’re all on the same side – it should be a win-win,” says Noa Matz, social psychologist and operating partner at F2 Venture Capital.
F2 Venture Capital is a Tel Aviv-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage technology companies. With $400 million under management, F2 has backed companies such as Explorium, Justt, Parametrix, as well as monday.com and eToro.
Matz is an expert in founder dynamics and performance coaching for startup teams and leaders. Previously, she founded and led Team Diligent, a boutique consulting firm advising founders to improve performance and make high-risk decisions under stressful and uncertain conditions. In this capacity, Noa has served as a special advisor to Natural Intelligence, Aurora Labs, Guesty and other successful startups, as well as companies like SAP.io.
Matz always knew she wanted to be a psychologist and found a way to tie that into venture capital. In an interview for CTech’s “She-inspires” series, Matz shared his thoughts on the future of social psychology, how to bridge the psychological gaps between founders and investors, and his advice for his fellow human beings. It’s important to note that she conducted the interview while holding her 2-month-old daughter in her hands without wasting any time.
CTech’s She-inspires series follows the stories of various female leaders in Israel. The interviewees come from a variety of industries: some hold senior positions in large organizations, some are founders, and some are key players in industries aiming to change the world for the better. The objective is to know where they come from, where they go and how they inspire an entire sector that is heading towards a glass ceiling just waiting to burst.
Elaborating on some of the challenges founders and investors face, Matz explains, “As a founder, it’s hard to find a professional who understands industry jargon. On the other hand, early-stage investors always say “we invest in people,” but they don’t necessarily know how to assess people, teams, momentum, or potential. Also, the VC game today isn’t as financial as it was in the past, it’s a lot more holistic, there’s a lot more elements.
What does a social psychologist do for founders?
“First, I create trust. I just listen – I really like to listen to people. Trust starts from day one when founders walk into our offices asking for an investment, when we don’t even have decided to invest in them yet. I am the smiling face in the room, when there is a question that makes them squirm, I will try to help them. However, real trust can take between a month and two years. My goal is for them to think ‘she’s my VC but she’s also on my side’.
“For me, our founders come first and they can trust me when I say that I will not pass on what they have chosen to entrust to me. My philosophy is that our partners should be open and non-judgmental. Once a founder decides to talk to us, to tell us something, then we have to be attentive because if we are not, the next time he will not come. We believe in being compassionate investors, we understand that if a founder is comfortable with us, we will be more successful together.”
Matz further explains that founders have a harder time turning to psychologists. “I think they feel the need to be strong in front of their employees, otherwise employees might get nervous. Facade is important to them and turning to a psychologist can be seen as the polar opposite of strength. plus, during treatment they are encouraged to look within and this can be debilitating.Digging into your past can have a mental impact that makes it harder for them to function afterwards.
What is your advice for women entrepreneurs or founders in general?
“Asking for help. I almost never say no when people ask me for help. So many people have helped me along the way. how this industry works, especially here in Israel. I would never have succeeded without the help of others. Don’t be shy to ask. I did it and saw how it helped, how people responded and I’m grateful for that, so I’m trying to pay it forward, that’s the secret to success in our industry.
When asked if she saw a difference between women and men, Matz replied, “Honestly, I haven’t worked with enough female founders. Statistically, it’s only about 5%”. Matz believes the reason is that women need a lot of information before they start a trip. “Maybe you have to push women to go ahead without having all the information, to make them feel that they are good enough like that. For men, I think it comes easier. With my daughter, I will make sure not to say “be careful” all the time. In this aspect, we must treat girls and boys equally. It won’t break, we’re not made of butter.