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Natalie Sportelli, Content & Brand at Lerer Hippeau

 
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Natalie Sportelli is the Content & Brand Manager at Lerer Hippeau, an NYC-based consumer seed fund. Natalie is one of the top minds in next-gen digital strategy & content development, leading the firm’s original content, social media, brand messaging, media strategy, and event programming.

Natalie also spends time advising Lerer Hippeau's portfolio, with notable investments in Allbirds, Casper, Glossier, Warby Parker, and Everlane. Prior to Lerer Hippeau, Natalie worked at Forbes as an Associate Editor & Producer for its 30 Under 30 franchise and holds a Bachelor’s in English & History from Colgate.

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On her morning commute. I'm extremely lucky to live in walking distance of Lerer Hippeau’s office in SoHo so you can find me walking from the East Village down to Crosby Street. A former college DJ, I take my playlists seriously so I’m either listening to new music or a podcast from the WSJ or our portfolio company Wondery. On the way, I always stop for an iced coffee (in rain, sun, or, yes, even snow) at Gasoline Alley in NoHo so when I get to my desk I can power through reading my many morning newsletters, wake up my brain, and start tackling my to-do list.

On building a personal brand. My philosophy for Twitter is that people come for you and stay for your content. So how can you build a great reputation that will attract followers? You can do that by trying to build a healthy community and contribute to productive conversations. Think about Twitter as an Internet neighborhood. There are easy ways to be a good neighbor: be helpful (share links, suggestions), engage with others (weigh in, offer feedback), and they’ll want to return the favor. It’s a good way to show, not tell, what you’re all about.

For any person seeking to grow his or her brand on Twitter, I think there’s a tendency to feel like you need to say what you think others want to hear from you or try to brand yourself by only focusing on one thing. But I don’t think that’s the right route. It’s much more interesting when people show depth. I’d much rather share a whole range: industry observations, (perhaps amusing) random thoughts, causes I care about, photos from my life, as well as my content and what I’m working on. I believe you’ll develop much deeper, more genuine connections by showing you’re not just one thing.

On producing high-value content. I dedicate the first 20 minutes of every morning to consuming as much news as possible. A lot of the content I produce is tied to closely following the news - a habit I got to carry over from Forbes - so I like to know just about everything that’s going on. I write a daily newsletter for Lerer Hippeau where we feature portfolio news, tech news, as well as blog posts we publish, open roles at our companies, and upcoming events. So starting the day with around a dozen newsletters and keeping a Twitter tab open helps me compile relevant news to share in the newsletter, find things to post on social, and flag anything to send to my team to make sure we’re all aware of emerging trends and breaking news.

I find it really helpful to only have the tabs I need in front of me at any given time. So if I’m writing or editing a post, I can’t see my Gmail, calendar, Slack, etc. I also bounce a ton of ideas off my team and get awesome feedback about what to make or write during any given day. I need it to be pretty quiet when I’m writing so I usually either go into a conference room or work on a post late in the day or at home.

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On Lerer Hippeau's platform team. The rise of the platform role has created an incredible opportunity for people from different backgrounds and skill sets to work in venture capital, which I believe hugely strengthens the entire industry. Our Director of Platform Stephanie Manning has had amazing foresight in building a team that addresses the greatest needs for our firm and founders: content and brand and talent.

The broader VC community has more or less matched this trend, hiring a platform leader, then for specific functional roles like talent, marketing, events, etc. based on feedback from founders. Industry-wide, people in VC platform roles are highly collaborative and are constantly sharing best practices as we all launch and scale different kinds of support and services as our portfolios grow. I see the platform role becoming ubiquitous as VC firms look for ways to differentiate and compete, and as founders come to expect extra support in addition to an investment.

On disconnecting from tech. Disconnecting is really important, but it’s also extremely hard because we’ve been wired to be responsive to emails, notifications, Slacks, and other pings around the clock. Putting your phone down and closing your laptop after the work day comes down to trusting that everything will probably be okay without you.

When I get home, I almost always launch into cooking an over-the-top dinner for my partner and me. I especially love tackling really complicated recipes as my own personal challenge. Focusing on one thing, especially something that I see as a creative outlet with a (hopefully) great result, helps my mind focus only on the task at hand, which is a change from the day’s typical distractions.

On her nightly routine. After doing so much reading and writing all day, I love to take in a ton of visuals before bed. That usually means scrolling through Pinterest, but also flipping through magazines or cookbooks or anything that’s really photo-heavy. It’s a good mental switch from digesting information and producing content to just observing.

After that, I have a multi-step skincare routine (powered by products from Heyday) before bed, and that little bit of self-care goes a long way. Especially when mornings can be a rush, investing some extra time in yourself before bed can make you feel good about ending the day and feel prepared for the next.

Natalie Sportelli, Content & Brand Manager at Lerer Hippeau