In Support of Engineers: Introducing the Primary Tech Council

As you’re building (or investing in) a new business, your clearest, most expedient path to success is rarely what you know, but rather who you know. In early-stage company-building it’s important to surround yourself with smart operators - true experts in their respective fields - who can help you solve tactical problems and avoid wheel reinvention by advising you on how to navigate early-stage hurdles. It’s this idea that has motivated us to build an extensive support system - made up of our in-house Portfolio Impact Team and the Primary Expert Network - to help our companies work through their operating challenges.

Taking a page from our own playbook, we’ve sought out our own advisors, especially when it comes to evaluating the complex technological side of budding NYC startups. We’ve been admittedly lacking in in-house technical expertise here at Primary, and we know we need to change that. While we can readily develop a clear understanding of a particular market and a product’s place within that market, nailing the inner-workings of the underlying technology and comprehensively assessing the technical aptitude of company leadership has been a bigger challenge.

To that end, we’re proud to introduce the new Primary Tech Council, a group whose threefold mission is to: 1) Identify and attract more engineering-driven businesses in our ecosystem; 2) Help us be more efficient and sophisticated evaluators of tech and tech talent; and 3) Serve as advisors and mentors to the engineering leaders in our portfolio as they move from Seed to Series A.

Anshu Aggarwal, John Allspaw

Anshu Aggarwal, John Allspaw

While we’re excited by the concept of this new initiative, the who of the Tech Council is even more exciting than the what. The Tech Council will be led by two engineers who are veritable legends of the NYC Tech community: Anshu Aggarwal, former CTO of Shutterstock and VP of Engineering at Tumblr, and current CTO of stealth-mode startup Skynet Labs, and John Allspaw, former CTO of Etsy and founder of IT consultancy Adaptive Capacity Labs.

It’s hard to overstate the qualifications of this pair. With decades of experience leading and scaling world-class technical teams at some of the largest companies to come out of New York, Anshu and John are well-positioned to have a significant impact on our firm. Both longtime members of the PEN, they have witnessed firsthand the impact of the program on our portfolio companies. So when we approached them about expanding that effort to the tech side of the business, they immediately saw the value both for Primary and for the broader tech community in NYC.

Over the last couple years, we’ve been actively working to build a stronger sense of community among New York’s top engineers. We’ve held intimate dinners for PEN members, coordinated larger events for the broader community, and we’ve been building the Primary100, a network of the city’s leading senior and principal engineers. In a city long believed to be lacking a strong pool of engineering talent, these initiatives are of utmost importance to raising the visibility of our native talent, and to helping those engineers get to know each other for networking, problem-solving and brainstorming opportunities.

The Tech Council is an offshoot of these efforts - a team built on top of the foundational layers we’ve already put in place to foster a strong community of engineers in the city. Not only will the Tech Council help us find the next generation of tech winners in NYC, but having built and scaled engineering teams at some of the leading companies in the city, John and Anshu will be invaluable resources for supporting future engineering leaders as they seek to make the right decisions for the long-term health of their own companies. We are humbled and excited to have this team on our side as we take an important step in identifying and building New York’s next great tech companies.