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Steve Schlafman

     
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Steve’s mission is to be the most human-centric investor in NYC by helping talented founders become exceptional leaders.

Steve (or Schlaf, as people tend to call him) is a Venture Partner at Primary. He has been investing in the NYC tech ecosystem for the last decade. Most recently, Steve was a Principal at RRE Ventures and Lerer Hippeau, where he focused on Seed and Series A investing. Prior to that, Steve was also Director of New Ventures at The Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots. He also brings a range of operational experience to Primary. He began his career at Microsoft, where he was a Senior Financial Analyst focused on Corporate Finance, Strategy and M&A. Steve then held a variety of operational roles at NYC-based startups Massive and Stickybits (also known as Turntable.fm). 

Steve straddles B2B and B2C with a bias toward the weird. He has a human-centric approach to investing. While at RRE, he led the firm’s investments in Giphy, Bowery Farming, Brightwheel, Groups, Boom Aerospace, Care/of, Citizen, Wag!, theSkimm, Breather, View The Space and many more. At Lerer Hippeau, he helped source the firm’s investments in Bark & Co, SmartThings (sold to Samsung), Percolate, Class Dojo, Zipline, Tulip Retail, Visual Revenue (sold to Outbrain) and many more. Believing in and serving entrepreneurs is his life’s work. 

Steve is also a trained executive and performance coach. He works with founders and executives to help them fulfill their potential as leaders inside and outside their organizations. Steve decided to pursue a coaching certification because he had a strong desire to engage with founders more deeply and develop stronger relationships based on respect, trust, authenticity and vulnerability.  

Steve is a fixture in the NYC venture community and occasionally blogs at schlaf.me. You can also follow him on Twitter where he shares daily musings about leadership, philosophy, technology, NYC and other random topics.

The Rest of the Story

I am married to an amazing woman who is a solo founder of The Sill, a venture-backed D2C brand for house plants. When I walk into our apartment at the end of each day, my role morphs from investor to husband/motivational coach/sounding board/occasional punching bag. There’s virtually no barrier separating my life from entrepreneurship. It’s a constant. I have a completely unfiltered view into the life of a founder; I see the wins, the losses and everything in between. This situation has given me a deeper appreciation for entrepreneurs, the daily battles they endure and the sacrifices they make.  

Outside of work, I am deeply passionate about the outdoors, meditation, self improvement, food and education. I also have a media consumption problem. When I’m not in the office, you can find me reading multiple books at once or listening to dozens of podcasts each week. Like Brad, I am a proud Boston sports fan and enjoy watching the Patriots win. On the weekends, I try to escape the city and spend as much time as I can in the Catskills, where I love to hike and set out on long, grueling bike rides.

Stuff You Wouldn't Know

  • First Job: I grew up in a small coastal town on the North Shore of Boston. My first job was delivering the Daily Evening Item, a small community newspaper based in Lynn, MA. This was before the modern internet. Every day after school, my brother and I would come home, fold papers and then walk the paper route. We braved the rain, sleet and snow to bring our neighbors the local news, and we learned at a very young age the importance of hard work, commitment, routine and self-sufficiency.
  • Greatest Life Experience: I recently participated in a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. This was easily one of the most brutal and intense, yet profound and rewarding experiences in my life. I emerged with a much greater understanding of myself, consciousness, the ego and the mind-body connection. For me, this experience is up there with getting married, climbing Mt. Rainer and playing football with my best friends in high school. 
  • Random Fact: I am an identical twin. Yes, I am not one of a kind; there are two of me walking this planet! Being a twin is the greatest gift for so many reasons. First, I have a blood and organ donor in the case of an emergency (thanks Dave!). Second, I was able to have a sleepover with my best friend every single night when we were growing up. Third, I had someone to beat in video games and fight on a daily basis. And finally, I always had a scapegoat because people couldn’t tell us apart. Dave is now a super-talented designer at Netflix in the Bay Area.