Proust Goes Tech With Andrea Walne, Partner At Manhattan Venture Partners

It’s not about pontificating on Twitter or in secret slack groups all day, says Andrea Walne, a partner at Manhattan Ventures Partner. Instead, in order to score deals and meet the right people, she’s found success in a casual iMessage group chat. And, of course, meeting people in real life.

Walne is the newest partner at Manhattan Venture Partners, coming from a background as a founder and operator in the startup world. She has a soft spot for supply chain, and doesn’t mind when her friends laugh at that nerdy tidbit.

For this Proust Goes Tech, we catch up with Walne and learn about why she doesn’t mind ignoring Slack sometimes, how slow walkers make her miserable, and which book is in her top three favorite business books of all time.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Andrea Walne, a partner at Manhattan Venture Partners.

What would you otherwise be doing right now?

If I had the guarantee of financial freedom I’d be in the winemaking and distribution business. While there’s implied romanticism of working in the wine industry, at its core it’s cultivation and farming and operates on slim margins. Beyond growing a vineyard, I’d love to manage a tasting room and build out the distribution and marketing channels for the various wine labels. I’m the type of person who embraces meeting new people constantly, so the revolving door of foot traffic in a tasting room is the type of environment I think I’d thrive in.

Your main fault?

My team would tell you that it’s my tendency to skip meals during the work week. Aside from that, I struggle to “turn off” in periods of perceived downtime. I’m working through ways to mitigate this. I’ve started leaving my phone behind when spending time out with my family in order to focus on being in the moment. Our time is fleeting and I know that as I get older the memories I build now won’t be built around my Slack message response time.

Your idea of misery?

A narrow sidewalk in which I’m stuck behind a pack of slow walkers. I walk like a New Yorker – with a purpose. I don’t understand how people operate otherwise.

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Trust, honesty, and an ability to give me a painful amount of constructive criticism, whether it’s solicited or not. Throughout all walks of life I’m grateful to say I’ve built varying types of friendships that I cherish immensely. My friends and network span across diverse backgrounds, and I’m humbled by those that lead a life that is polar opposite to mine.

Your chief characteristic?

Fierce loyalty to both people and a mission. I don’t do anything in life unless I would stand behind it and be accountable. I put an emphasis on this as I evaluate and build teams both from an investing and recruiting perspective. I also consider myself to be incredibly pragmatic and don’t take things personally, which I’ve found is off-putting to those who lack confidence in themselves.

What skill do you wish you possessed?

I really wish I could consider myself fearless when it came to physical activities. I have a low risk tolerance when it comes to anything I think can land me in the hospital.

Your most impactful book?

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. This is hands down one of the top three most important business books someone in a business/startup role should read.

What defines success?

The ability to deliver and have personal accountability for goals you set for yourself and others. I evaluate success similar to how I think about freedom, which is having the ability to choose how you want to spend your time.

When is confidence lost?

When there’s been rapport established and the counter party still can’t (or won’t) tell you what they really want or need.

Which buzzword is exhausted?

Pre-seed. I believe that the concept of pre-seed is too loosely defined and carries a connotation that a fundraising event doesn’t merit the label of a round because it was likely relatively small.

What virtues do others have that you don’t?

Compassion to the extent of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I tend to take a conservative approach to trust.

What impact do you want to leave behind?

I want others to remember me as someone who made them feel incredibly comfortable showing their own strength and doing it with conviction. I think everyone has a story to tell and a lesson to share, and many aren’t given an outlet to do so. I also want to continue empowering people to feel as though they can take an untraditional path to success. The stigma of going to the best schools and landing a top tier job right away is slowly fading, and it can’t happen fast enough.

What’s the biggest problem tech is failing to solve?

It’s disheartening to see how antiquated the intake and patient care systems within the medical field still are. There is so much left to build to enable healthcare technicians to do their jobs effectively and swiftly, especially in emergency environments.

Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias

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