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The benefits of jumping between investor and CEO roles

Peter Stojanovic

Dan Sandhu is a founder, mentor and a chairman; balancing those roles at once is time consuming, but it can add value to the work he puts into each role and business relationship.

The investor executive transition is a hard path to navigate, but it can be extremely beneficial for your company if you’re successful.

Take Dan Sandhu, for example.

Sandu is currently chairman and CEO of Digital Assess, a SaaS based assessment product suite in the edtech sector; venture partner at Emerge Education, an edtech accelerator; and founder of SwiftShift.

Those differing roles could mean you’re unfocused at each task, that your value is diluted over three different channels.

For Sandhu however, the investor executive transition has allowed him to experience both sides of the table.

“I’ve interspersed being an investor with being an executive and that’s been important because you start to understand all the drivers in creating value in both roles; as an investor you are aligned to your stakeholders, which can include investors, shareholders, chairman level roles and even mentors.”

The duality allows Sandu to get to grips of the dynamics involved within each role, which he can learn from and apply later on.

“…and when I’m running a business I know what investors want to see in terms of value; as an advisor and venture partner at an accelerator, or as a direct shareholder, I can be a better mentor because I know what tough times they’re going through.”

Of course, the investor executive transition may be appropriate (or feasible) for everyone, but on a wider scope, Sandhu believes it could help solve communication issues within VCs.

“…despite my opinions being not unusual for a VC or PE firm, I do think there is a lack of operational depth, or some funds lack that operational touch which alienates them from entrepreneurs.”

The debate here lies in mentors being able to empathize with their entrepreneurs, and to an extent, vice versa – it’s an important tool but it closes a loop that constantly requires new talent and fresh thinking.

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