Winning Founders & Influencing Everyone: Margit Wennmachers at Startup Grind Europe | Summary and Q&A

August 14, 2018
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Winning Founders & Influencing Everyone: Margit Wennmachers at Startup Grind Europe


Margot explains her journey from starting the Outcast agency to joining Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm.

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Key Insights

  • 🛝 Margot highlights the importance of timing and fertile ground for starting a company.
  • 🖤 a16z believes in supporting founders who have product genius but may lack CEO experience.
  • 🍧 Marketing and having your own content are crucial for founders to tell their stories and ensure their customers and employees are engaged.
  • 😊 Trust, honesty, and attitude are key in building relationships with reporters and having successful PR.
  • *️⃣ Risk tolerance and a vibrant ecosystem are key factors that contribute to the success of Silicon Valley compared to other regions.


so super excited to be here today and starting off Margot we heard from Marion you did grow up in rural Germany then you moved to the States what led you to startup outcast so I moved to the United States I fell into tech it was a complete accident there was no plan involved but I was temping while in school and I ended up working for the German ge... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What led Margot to start the Outcast agency?

Margot's move to the United States and her accidental job for a major American start-up motivated her to start her own company and make a mark in the world, especially during the tech boom of the late-1990s.

Q: How did Margot end up joining Andreessen Horowitz?

After representing Ben and Mark for their fundraising, Margot was invited to join a16z due to her experience with the Outcast agency and her belief in the firm's ambition and discipline to be a top venture capital firm.

Q: What were a16z's first investments in Europe?

The first investment in Europe was the buyout of Skype, which made people take notice of a16z's presence. They later invested in TransferWise and other companies.

Q: How does a16z differentiate itself in the venture capital industry?

a16z focuses on putting the founding entrepreneur first, guiding them in becoming better CEOs and providing them access to expertise and networks through their talent agency and corporate development team. They also emphasize marketing their firm and creating their own content.


Margot Gerritsen discusses her journey from co-founding the Outcast Agency to joining Andreessen Horowitz as a general partner. She talks about the early days of Outcast and how they built a successful business by working with clients like Salesforce and Facebook. She also explains how she made the transition to Andreessen Horowitz and the challenges of breaking into the top ranks of venture capital firms. Gerritsen shares valuable insights on building relationships with founders, the importance of having your own content, and the need for trust and honesty in the startup world.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Margot Gerritsen go from growing up in rural Germany to co-founding Outcast and then joining Andreessen Horowitz?

Margot Gerritsen moved to the United States and stumbled into the tech industry while temping in school. She began working for the German general manager of an American start-up that competed with Silicon Graphics. After working at another firm for four years, she co-founded Outcast Agency with her business partner Karen Maroney. The timing was right, and they had the opportunity to work with clients like Salesforce and Facebook.

Q: What led Margot Gerritsen to join Andreessen Horowitz?

After running Outcast Agency for 14 years and selling the business, Margot Gerritsen was approached by Ben Horowitz and Mark Andreessen to represent them. They raised $300 million right after the financial crisis, and Gerritsen represented them for a year before joining the firm. She saw it as an interesting challenge and believed in the ambition and discipline of the founders and partners at Andreessen Horowitz.

Q: What was Andreessen Horowitz's first investment in Europe?

The first investment in Europe was not a venture investment, but the buyout of Skype with Silver Lake and the Canadian pension board. This investment helped the firm gain recognition and credibility in Europe, leading to subsequent investments like TransferWise.

Q: How did Andreessen Horowitz break into the top ranks of VC firms?

Instead of relying solely on their track record of previous deals, Andreessen Horowitz focused on putting the founding entrepreneur first. They believed in their potential to be successful CEOs and built a firm that provided support and expertise tailored to their needs. By prioritizing the founder's journey and creating a network of talent, they were able to differentiate themselves and attract top entrepreneurs.

Q: What advice does Margot Gerritsen have for startups on marketing and publicity?

She advises startups to take their function and visibility seriously. While product development is crucial, it's important to have a rightful place in the minds of potential customers. However, it's essential to avoid being too loud or over-promising. Each startup should consider the right timing and approach for their specific market, whether it's a consumer or B2B company. In addition to traditional media outlets, having your own content can be valuable for reaching customers and controlling your own narrative.

Q: What challenges do founders face when trying to will their ideas into existence?

Founders need to suspend disbelief and paint a bigger vision than what they are currently doing. They have to walk a fine line between being ambitious and not over-promising. While it's important to have a large vision, founders should be realistic about their growth timeline, valuations, and deliverables. Being honest and avoiding lies or exaggerations is crucial in building trust and credibility.

Q: What is Margot Gerritsen's advice on dealing with the media?

She advises against lying and emphasizes the importance of being respectful and approachable. Founders should never call customers or reporters stupid, but instead, take the opportunity to explain themselves better. While engaging with the press is important, it's also essential to have your own content outlet to tell your story accurately and control the narrative. Additionally, founders should not be apologetic about what they are doing and should embrace the benefits of tech while acknowledging the potential risks.

Q: How powerful are venture capitalists compared to founders?

Margot Gerritsen believes that founders are the ones truly in the driver's seat. While venture capitalists can provide advice and support, founders are the ones making the decisions and running the company. The role of venture capitalists is to explain how technology and Silicon Valley work, advocate for technology's benefits, and be a positive voice for the startup ecosystem.

Q: What is Margot Gerritsen's perspective on the startup landscape in Europe?

While Andreessen Horowitz hasn't made as many investments in Europe, Gerritsen recognizes the success of companies like Skype and the emergence of a network of investors and angel investors. She believes that as more breakout successes occur in Europe, the landscape will change, and having multiple Silicon Valley-style ecosystems worldwide would be beneficial. However, Silicon Valley has a significant head start due to factors like universities, access to funding, and a high tolerance for risk.

Q: What advice does Margot Gerritsen have for startups regarding publicity and engaging with the press?

She advises startups to focus on their product development and not rush into engaging with the press. However, if there's funding from reputable firms or strategic partnerships worth announcing, it's worth doing so for recruiting purposes. When the time is right, startups should engage with the press properly, build relationships, and focus on explaining their story and potential benefits. Having your own content outlet is also valuable for telling important stories that may not be covered by traditional media outlets.


Margot Gerritsen emphasizes the importance of taking marketing and publicity seriously, finding your rightful place in the market, and building relationships with the press. She advises founders to be ambitious but realistic in their visions, and to avoid lying or embellishing their stories. Building trust, being respectful, and embracing technology's benefits while addressing its potential risks are vital. Gerritsen believes that founders are in control and that venture capitalists should advocate for technology and be positive voices in the industry. Additionally, she highlights the need for multiple global startup ecosystems and acknowledges the head start that Silicon Valley has.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Margot grew up in rural Germany and moved to the United States, where she accidentally fell into the tech industry while temping for an American start-up.

  • She co-founded the Outcast agency with her partner Karen Maroney, which became successful and worked with clients such as Salesforce and Facebook.

  • Margot later joined Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm after representing Ben and Mark, the co-founders of a16z, for their fundraising.

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