Learnings After 4 Years At Real Ventures: Interview with Ricky Fefergrad, Director of Finance
Meet Richard Fefergrad (aka Ricky), Director of Finance at Real Ventures, who recently hit the exciting milestone of working 4 years at the firm. In the spirit of celebrating and sharing a few pearls of wisdom he’s collected during his time at Real, we sat down with him to discuss his role, what it’s like working in VC, and his biggest learnings throughout his tenure.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview Ricky! I thought we could kickstart things by first asking you to share a little about your background and describe your current role and responsibilities at Real?
Happy to! As Director of Finance at Real, my role is to act as the finance lead and primary point of contact for internal and external matters. In terms of what that looks like daily, I mainly manage the firm’s financial and reporting obligations, which all VC firms are generally required to comply with, provide recommendations to the investment team regarding financial decisions, and support our LPs by providing fund performance updates.
Before joining the firm, I started working at a virtual accounting firm, a two-person operation my brother ran. In addition to working with family, it was a great experience because I got to work with small businesses operating in many industries. It was my first exposure to entrepreneurship, teaching me a lot about how small business owners manage their companies and the challenges they often face.
In 2016 joined the accounting team at Luxury Retreats (which was acquired by Airbnb in 2017). It was my first experience working at a mid-sized company. It taught me how to work effectively within a larger team and what it’s like working in a business experiencing hypergrowth. Looking back, my time at Luxury Retreats and the learnings I acquired throughout its growth and acquisition proved very valuable in understanding the financial realities of Real Ventures portfolio companies experiencing similar rapid growth.
What made you want to work in finance?
I’ve always been a numbers person. As a kid, my favorite subject in school (aside from gym maybe!) was math. From a very young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in finance. I guess you can say I’m lucky to have always been so sure about what I wanted professionally.
Before working at Real Ventures, had you ever envisioned working in venture capital?
Not at all! Before joining Real, I had no exposure to the VC industry. The only thing I knew about venture capital was Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, like most people who haven’t been exposed to the VC ecosystem. Of course, looking back now, it’s clear the show only shows the tip of the iceberg about what is involved in investing in early-stage startups.
What excites you the most about your job? What part brings you the most joy?
What I love the most about my job is hands down the opportunity to work closely with seasoned VC partners who are incredibly dedicated to the Canadian tech startup community. I learned so much and gained new perspectives through our conversations on investing, entrepreneurship, leadership, and so much more. The learnings I’ve gained have helped me carve out my own path within the firm and continue to find new ways to provide value to our team, our founders, and our LPs. This has been very rewarding.
What has been your biggest learning since joining Real Ventures?
Two things come to mind. Firstly, building a winning portfolio is a long-term commitment where building and nurturing relationships based on trust with founders is key.
Second, discovering the human aspect of the business. Working at Real has opened my eyes to the emotional challenges of starting and building a venture-backed business. It’s very interesting to see how business leaders lead their companies (especially during this period of rapidly changing economic conditions), reminding me that everyone is human, trying their best, and working on their own growth as leaders and individuals. These learnings have helped me grow into a better human, colleague, and manager, allowing me to be more present and helpful to the folks around me.