As part of our Growth Profiles series, we’d like to introduce you to Jackson Georges Jr., a VP leading our growth team. Read on to learn about Jackson’s work leading VC diversity initiatives, how he helps our enterprise companies scale via partnerships, and what he sees as the most critical strategic pieces for companies ready to hit their growth stage.
What is your role at CapitalG, and what did you do previously? What motivated you to join the VC world?
I lead the business development team that supports our enterprise and fintech companies. A lot of what I do is around building relationships — driving commercial connections for our portfolio companies, advising our portfolio companies’ leaders on various challenges as they scale their business and helping our investment team make the right decisions and get smart about a space as quickly as possible.
I also co-lead our equity inclusion and diversity initiatives. We find ways for our firm to support various underrepresented and overlooked groups through community events, investments and sponsorships. We also think about this as it relates to the diversity strategies within our portfolio.
Before CapitalG I had various roles at Google in advertising sales and people operations. And prior to Google I worked for GE Healthcare, a commercial IT company, and earlier, helping medical schools with clinical skills training. I’ve never been someone who’s interested in one particular area over others, and I think that’s exactly what helps me be successful in VC. I know enough about a lot of spaces to help our companies grow both in scale and diversity.
How does CapitalG advise B2B companies around partnerships?
We have programmatic ways that we support our companies throughout their lifecycles including CxO events (like our recent talks with Johanna Flower and Dr. Carole Robin), but most of our work is bespoke — working closely with portfolio companies’ C-levels on the challenges across talent and product. I spend most of my time focused on go-to-market strategies that contribute to top-line growth: landing new customers, expanding to new markets, and so on.
For a company new to the fund, our growth and investment teams sit with the CEO to think about how to grow the main strategic business in terms of product, talent, and go-to-market functions. We have our team and an incredible go-to-market board from Google Business Operations and Google Cloud who are experts in specific verticals. They act as superconductors for founders who need to connect with the right people.
What have you seen make a big difference for enterprise companies preparing to hit their growth stage?
Go vertical. Even if you’re an enterprise company with a horizontal solution like cybersecurity or automation, you should try building a strategy that incorporates your product partnerships, your sales, your customer service — everything, for one specific vertical. Unqork does this really well. They started with the financial services market, tweaked how they approach industry solution selling, then went into healthcare, then went into government.
Another point for companies, especially those with recent investments, is to treat your investors like any other tech alliance. Your investors are an extension of the sales, so treat them as you would any other firm. Companies like MX, Orca and Armis do this really well, having dedicated managers for direct dialogue. Having that direct channel is a huge for your investing partners to understand your top targets and what (or who) you really need.
How did EID (Equity, Inclusion, Diversity) become such a big part of your work?
For me it’s all about representation. Early on in my career at a leadership development program, someone asked the CEO, “When did you know you were going to be the CEO?” He said, “In my old office, there were pictures of every past CEO, and they all looked like me except they had no hair. What’s the difference between me and those guys?”
Everybody laughed, except me. Because I was like, well, you don’t look like me, and neither does anybody else on that wall. So initially I felt some disappointment, but looking back I’m thankful it happened. It gave me purpose and drive to make sure that walls like that would be filled with people that folks from all backgrounds could relate to. In every role I’ve ever had, I’ve always done a side project for diversity. And now, having worked in VC for 5 years, seeing how many operators, investors, and entrepreneurs have diversity challenges is one of the things that keeps me motivated every day.
What initiatives are you most proud of?
I’m interested in making sure everyone has access to the knowledge and understanding of VC and entrepreneurship, and diversifying the people at investment firms who actually have check- writing abilities. I’ve been supporting Hidden Genius Project for about six years now, helping train young men on entrepreneurship, technology and leadership in general. CapitalG got involved a couple years ago, helping launch the Venture Seed Fund program to show them how to actually raise capital and build their businesses.
I’m also on the steering committee for BLCK VC, which supports industry equity through professional development and initiatives to increase the number of Black investors. Along with Jeremiah Gordon and Jamie Rosen, our team is helping manage Alphabet’s $100 million commitment to invest in Black-led funds. We’ve taken the same scaled version of what we provide to our portfolio companies for the funds that we’re investing in.
Lastly, do you have any thoughts on the future of work?
It’s really all about putting your employees first. The world has changed, and people see and feel that work, and their relationship with it, has changed too.
There are various reasons why people may not feel comfortable coming into the office, but that doesn’t have to prevent them from doing great work. As a founder in a post-pandemic rollout, think about the most important resource you have: human resources. Be flexible and do what is right for them.