- Cristina Cordova is the newest partner at First Round Capital investing in seed stage companies.
- Before working at a venture company, she was the 28th employee at Stripe and also one of the first hires at Notion.
- Cordova is also an angel investor and has backed more than 50 startups.
Cristina Cordova has a nearly perfect resume for venture capital.
A Stanford graduate, she worked as a trader for unicorn startups like Stripe and Notion, and Angel invested in over 50 startups before landing the coveted role of partner at First Round Capital.
But his road to success was anything but a given.
Cordova grew up as the daughter of a single mother in Los Angeles and spent much of her early childhood managing her own schedule.
“She was definitely a latchkey girl,” she told Insider. “I learned to be very independent, self-directed and motivated.”
It was that drive that led Cordova to her first college internship at Tapulous, an app development startup. A friend offered her an internship there after she went on a study abroad program, and Cordova jumped at the chance. Ultimately, she would change the course of her career.
It was at Tapulous that Cordova first heard the phrase “venture capital” and realized it could be a viable career path for her in the future. She became fascinated by the inner workings of Silicon Valley’s startup culture and read as many tech blogs and news sites as she could.
After completing her internship, Cordova landed a job at Pulse, an RSS newsfeed app, which has since been bought by Linkedin. At Pulse, she became vice president of business development at age 22.
It was a lofty task for Cordova, and at first she was intimidated by the responsibilities.
“I had the great impostor syndrome,” he said. “I felt like I had to hide my age, because of how young I was.”
Cordova knew he had to immerse himself in the role and learn as he went, just as he did in Tapulous.
He immediately took on every project he could at Pulse, from securing partnerships with major newspapers to hiring and managing employees in every department. When she turned 24, she landed her next position as Stripe’s head of partnerships and was instrumental in Lyft becoming a Stripe customer.
While at Stripe, Cordova became curious about angel investing after seeing many of her former colleagues venture into a company and participated in First Round’s angel investing program.
“I consider myself a generalist,” Cordova said. “Angel investing was my way of learning about all kinds of businesses and finding out how I could be useful to a business outside of a space I’ve worked in directly.”
She became quite prolific
, supporting more than 50 startups. Unlike some angels, who would write a check and then have little stake in a company, Cordova would dive in to help founders with whatever operational issues they had.
After investing in workplace management startup Notion, she became so active in helping the company that she ended up taking a job there as head of platforms and partnerships, reporting directly to the CEO.
Cordova managed to stay close to several of the First Round Capital partners he met during the angel investment program. And luckily, the venture firm was looking for a new partner earlier this year, a few months after she left Notion to focus on angel investing full-time. First Round partner Brett Berson knew Cordova well, as the firm had also invested in Notion, and the firm offered her the position to join after seeing the success of her other angel investments.
It was fortuitous for Cordova at the time, who thought it might be a better way to engage with and help founders on a more personal level.
“I found the relationships that First Round had with its founders to be much deeper and more fulfilling than just writing a check like an angel,” he said.