Mentoring Forward with Nick Washburn of Intel Capital

Mentoring Forward - Venture Forward series

Welcome to our Mentoring Forward series! We’re highlighting an incredible group of mentors and the positive impact the VC University Mentorship Program has had on VC University scholarship recipients. Since launching in 2020, the Mentorship Program has had four cohorts with a total of 121 new and early career VCs from historically underrepresented backgrounds, each who have been paired with one experienced VC mentor and one peer VC mentor. Thanks to these mentors, we are working together to create a more inclusive and diverse VC community.

Nick Washburn is a current NVCA board member and Venture Forward donor. Read more below about why he’s a proud three-peat VC mentor in the Mentorship Program.

Nick Washburn, Senior Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer, Intel Capital

Nick Washburn - Mentoring Forward

Why is mentorship important in VC and why did you want to serve as a mentor?

I had a long, non-traditional path to venture capital. When I look back at my career journey to date, there are key inflection points that almost universally center upon people: people who took a chance on me, coached me, challenged me, empowered me and, ultimately, trusted me.  Those are some of the hallmarks of mentorship, which is a two-way street. As the mentee, I also coached, challenged, empowered, and trusted my mentors.  I feel mentorship is vital in any industry, but of particular importance in venture capital, given it is unfortunately an opaque industry that unnecessarily continues to be hard to break into. I hope mentorship through VC University can help accelerate the path into venture capital for others.

How did you support your mentee?

As I mentioned above, mentorship is two-way. And my time serving as a VC University mentor has definitely embodied this principal. My mentee and I have an environment where we just share what’s going on in our respective segments of the venture space, from both the highs and lows. Every session we try and take away something actionable, whether it is how to handle the increasing speed of decision making, to personal development. It’s an awesome experience, and I feel that we both get a lot out of our sessions. I’ve stayed in contact beyond the three-month program and continue to meet on a monthly basis.

Is there any advice or guidance you shared with your mentee that you want to share more broadly with industry newcomers?

We both speak a lot about the need to approach venture capital from a position of humility.  Entrepreneurs are the life-blood of innovation and shoulder tremendous pressure when embarking on a new startup. Our goal as partners should be to support them in as best of way as possible, while always understanding the entrepreneurs are doing the hard work.  Approaching this craft with transparency, timeliness, and clarity of communication, and overall empathy are key.

Why would you encourage your VC peers to serve as mentors?

I would strongly encourage any and all venture investors, regardless of tenure, age, location or sector-focus, to serve as mentors for Venture Forward and VC University. I promise it will be a learning experience for you, if you bring an open-mind and quest for growth. You will certainly have a strong impact on your mentee, helping accelerate their career trajectory into the venture industry. But they will also have a strong impact on you, challenging your beliefs, bringing a different perspective, and ultimately, making you a better investor as a result.

Get Involved

Volunteer as a mentor! Check out the program details and sign up by Friday, October 8.

The next round of this program starts in November for VC University ONLINE’s September Scholarship cohort. We’re seeking Experienced VC (5+ investing years’ experience, and Partner level or equivalent) and Peer VC (1-5 investing years’ experience) volunteers to serve as mentors. Pay it forward and join us in supporting the next generation of VC leaders!

Help us spread the word, so we can reach a strong pool of mentors. Here’s some sample content to use.