The Chapter One Founder Experience

And the people behind it.

This Blog is Co-Written by Maria Tangarova & Greg Clayman at Chapter One.

Hello, world! Welcome to The Founder Experience blog. We spend 100% of our time supporting Founders and have built an incredibly robust Founder Experience at Chapter One over the past year. We are excited to share it with the world.

Thank you for reading and for coming along this journey with us as we uncover everything from What is a best-in-class Founder Experience to Why it matters, How we built it and What’s next. Over time, we will also feature joint collaboration pieces with partners, founders, and advisors offering various insights into different aspects of building and growing an early-stage company.

To kick us off, we would like to introduce ourselves. Let’s get started!

Maria Tangarova, Head of Founder Experience

Hi all! If we haven’t crossed paths before, it is nice to meet you and thank you for reading. I am the Head of Founder Experience at Chapter One and lead everything post-investment.

Before getting into the details about our commitment to our founders at the fund, I thought it might be helpful to shed some light on my story thus far. Hopefully, this will trigger an “aha!” moment the next time we cross profile paths on Twitter and other socials.

Prior to Chapter One, I spent the early part of my career in the music industry, investing in and developing artists before pivoting to venture to work with founders full-time. Why music? Well, for starters, I grew up in a family of 4th generation classical musicians, film tech directors, writers, opera singers, sculptors, you name it: a lineage of magnificent creatives each with a unique perspective about the world they shared through their craft. And as a classically trained musician and vocalist myself, I fell in love with music and the art of performing really before I could talk.

Fast forward to college; my creative outlet transformed itself from the art of song to the art of building products and starting companies. I became obsessed with seeing a vision to life and I got what I call the founder “itch” early on, living and breathing startups. While I was a student at The University of Texas at Austin I founded my own record label, after which I became an advisor at Gold Rush Vinyl (the world’s fastest vinyl pressing company) in its early development. I then made my way to lead the Texas chapter of The Recording Academy (known for the Grammys), with a mission to recognize the achievements of artists and songs popular worldwide. 

Post-grad I went on to Hollywood at Capital Music Group, arguably (one of) the most legendary record label of all time, to work on some of music’s biggest artist projects from Paul McCartney to ABBA managing a portfolio of ~$18M in sales. During that time, I became obsessed with the principles of ownership and dove deep into the Creator Economy, becoming a founding member of a project called, an experiment around song fractionalization in collaboration with The New Computer Corporation. After swimming between the lanes of entrepreneurship and venture, I discovered my niche at Chapter One finding my passion translate from helping artists make record-breaking albums to helping founders build generational companies.

If you think about what defines an artist and compare that to an entrepreneur you will realize that the two are effectively one and the same. Both are visionaries, creating and building products (in all forms) and launching them to the public with a roadmap to find Product Market Fit. So while a good bulk of my journey may seem heavily rooted in the entertainment industry, the majority, if not all, of those experiences are interchangeable with founders of all heights. Whether it’s launching a product, growing an audience, or something as “simple” as an entity setup, I have found many nuanced parallels that are integral to both.

I spend my time today supporting our founders at Chapter One the millisecond post-investment. From initial onboarding to post-seed fundraising, our Founder Experience shapes every second that we spend with our founders. From the early stages of product and design to the later stages of growth and scaling, I am very excited to finally share the infrastructure that we have built to support them in that process.

Outside of the daily grind, you can catch me visiting family and friends in good ol’ Austin, Texas, enjoying a Yoga class, brainstorming product ideas, or taking a nice long walk on the beach in LA with my husband and pug named Prince.

If any parts of my story resonate with you, please send me a note at @mtangarova2. I would love to learn about your journey in return.

Greg Clayman, Head of Talent & Education

For those of you I haven’t met, or those who have only seen my name and corgi avatar on Twitter/Discord/Telegram, let me provide a face to a name and some insight into my journey.

But before going into the professional stuff, I want to highlight some interesting personal things I’ve done in my life. Always feel like these are good jumping-off points for discussion and humanize things more than just being “Greg the web3 Talent Guy”. Next time we talk, feel free to bring any of these up in discussion:

  • Outside of recruiting and web3, music is my biggest passion and hobby. I helped put together a metal festival focused on power metal/prog metal which failed spectacularly - but I’ll absolutely do it again when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve been an extra in a few music videos with friend’s bands, and I’ve traveled around the world to see good shows (and have seen 300+ shows in the last decade)

  • Or maybe trivia is my biggest passion? I recently filmed an episode for the Game Show Network’s Master Minds. No spoilers - because I’m not sure if the episode(s) has aired and there’s a pretty tight NDA! Next up: Jeopardy!

  • I ran track (but actually “jumped” track) and played football (but actually kicked footballs) when I was in college. I then wawa the assistant track and field coach at Pepperdine University for two years while I was in grad school (and also where my first professional “recruiting” experience began!)

  • I type pretty quickly. Fun fact that there used to be a World Typing Championships and there was a competition back in 2008-09 to qualify for the in-person championships. I finished 9th at 171 words per minute - only the top 6 qualified for the in-person event ☹️

As for the professional side. . .

My LinkedIn page is relatively up-to-date, but to add some color and synthesize a central theme, the common thread throughout my career is that I have a knack for discovering and joining companies (and industries, for that matter) early/before they boom.

After starting my career at a few not-worth-mentioning recruiting agencies in Los Angeles, I joined Zynga back when Farmville was a thing and we decided to make everyone a mobile developer.

I moved from there to a tiny startup called which was a chat company with some phenomenal technology right at the precipice of the chat industry taking off (see: Viber, Line, WhatsApp, Kakao, etc.).

While at imo, we were hiring folks from every country on the planet - I had colleagues from Netherlands, Vietnam, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Bulgaria, etc. - and, having studied linguistics, I valued and appreciated the different perspectives, insights, and learnings that came from building an international team. I wanted to scratch that itch and get even more global recruiting experience - so I moved to Stockholm to join a small (at the time!) FinTech company called Klarna, forming one of the first in-house recruiting teams in all of Sweden. While I only spent a year there, this was not only where I had some of my biggest professional wins to date (my team and I hired 575 people in the year I was there) but also where I fully went down the crypto rabbithole in 2015 (and also the reason I was only able to stay there a year. . .tl;dr is that it’s pretty tough to pay American student loans from a Swedish bank account and the government will definitely not let you forget that).

I moved back to the US to join Imgur during its heyday before moving to Google, where I joined as one of the first 10 recruiters on the Google Cloud Sales Engineering team (so “technically” this was still quite early - Google Cloud was a totally new division at the time). While at Google, I still had that interest in blockchain and crypto and, after two years of big company politics and red tape, sought the startup life again. I left Google to join another small startup, Chronicled, which was, IMO, way ahead of its time to oversee HR, recruiting, culture, etc.

Chronicled never quite got off the ground but it did lead to my speaking with the Andreessen Horowitz team, where I joined as the first talent hire dedicated to the crypto portfolio shortly after they raised their first crypto fund in 2018. I spent 3.5 years, the first three of them solo, supporting portfolio talent as we went from less than 10 web3 companies to ~105 when I left.

While most of my positions and responsibilities have thoroughly fallen under that of a “recruiter”, I’ve always shied away from calling myself that or saying I work in “talent acquisition”. To me, those terms elicit connotations of transactional relationships of boiler-room headhunters sending templated messages to hundreds of prospective candidates. Those who have worked with me can attest that I value the relationship building piece above all other factors. So how do we make this an explicit focus during the hiring process and keep this top-of-mind while working with dozens of companies and hundreds of individuals looking to start their next chapter?

Introducing The Founder Experience

What is it? And how does this differ from ‘Founder Support’?

It’s no secret that every. single. VC. firm. is going to stress how much value they add while reverse-pitching companies as they look to invest and subsequently overinflate just how much value they’re adding post-investment (see: VCBrags on Twitter).

In reality, the level of service we’ve found from different VC firms varies widely between “wired you the funds today, good luck, let me know how I can help” to “we’re in the trenches with you and it’s all-hands-on-deck”. And if that’s our scale from 1-10, the Chapter One Founder Experience is an 11. Here’s why:

For us at Chapter One, supporting a founder is more than just sending introductions and making connections. There is an added level of customer success, care, and intention to every touchpoint we have with our founders. How do we do this?

We’ll be back to share some of our secrets with you next week.

Maria & Greg