Residence PlansEntrepreneur in residence is a role that you typically find at venture capital firms. It can take different forms. Generally speaking, this is a respected entrepreneur who is working on their next company or trying to identify their next opportunity.

It’s a short term role, where the firm provides the entrepreneur with a salary and resources, like an office and access to smart people who work at the firm. The entrepreneur in residence may help the firm by offering feedback on potential investments and lending insight to portfolio companies they have already invested in.

The arrangement is really about the firm recognizing what the entrepreneur brings to the table and wanting to back those talents financially. Either by funding the entrepreneur’s next company or by placing them with a company the firm plans to invest in.

Others in Residence

There are also executives in residence, which are similar in that they will often help firms with due diligence on new investments and by consulting with portfolio companies. However, where an entrepreneur is working on building their next idea, an executive in residence is more likely to be searching for a new role. The firm provides them with greater networking opportunities, including access to potentially interesting companies, helping them to find a new home.

Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash has an interesting series about his time as an executive in residence.

There are corporate entrepreneurs in residence, which are a little different and do more outreach in the startup community. As Nash notes, there have been designers, engineers, data scientists and growth strategists in residence. I’m sure there are other “in residence” professionals floating around, as well.

Community in Residence

Why not a community manager in residence? Or, better yet, community director in residence orĀ  community strategist in residence? I think it makes a lot of sense, as long as we agree that:

  1. Community building – that is, building strong relationships with those who love what you do, connecting them with one another and retaining them – is vital to (the vast majority of) startups.
  2. Community builders are not a dime a dozen. There are varying degrees of quality professionals, just as there are entrepreneurs with better track records and pedigrees.

Just like an entrepreneur in residence, a community strategist in residence could help expose the promise of potential investments, from a community perspective, and help guide portfolio companies when it comes to community efforts.

I’m sure this already happens. Venture firms have community managers and professionals. It seems logical that some of them offer input to funded companies when asked. This just takes it to the next level.

While there is the thought that founders should be community-minded as much as possible, I do think that not having a dedicated point person will often shortchange efforts in that area.

A talented community executive is a tremendous asset for an early stage company. Engineering, growth and community are all equally important areas. As I write, there are zero Google search results for “community manager in residence.” Similar titles bring up nothing related to the idea.

It would be worthwhile for venture capitalists (and others) to experiment in this area and bring community professionals into the equation.