Office Hours: I'm a GM at Patreon, former startup founder and Sequoia investment scout. I'm Camille Hearst.Featured

Hi Elpha!I’m the Head of Product and GM for Merch at Patreon. I joined the Patreon team when Patreon acquired my startup, Kit, in 2018. Kit is a platform where creators and experts recommend the best products to buy. We grew to about 1M users / month and raised 2.5M from investors like Social Capital, Slow Ventures, Expa, Precursor Ventures before the acquisition.Before founding Kit, I was a VP of Product Management at Hailo, a Lead Product Marketing Manager at Google/YouTube where I worked in London and Paris and a PM at Apple.I’m also an investment Scout for Sequoia Capital. I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University’s programs in Science, Technology, & Society/Product Design and Management, Science, and Engineering.I'm a San Francisco native, born and raised. Went to public schools growing up. I am currently based in Soho, New York, have been a part of the NYC tech scene for 6+ years now.If you want to learn more about me, check out this interview.Ask me anything about Product Management, startup acquisitions, working at big tech companies vs tiny startups, angel investing, or something else!
Thanks so much for joining us, Camille!Hi Elpha – please ask Camille your questions before this Friday. She may not have time to answer every question, so please emoji upvote the ones you're most curious about.
Hi Camille! Do you have any advice to share for first time female founders? Can you recommend any specific groups or clubs to join?
Hi Vidhya! Thanks for asking me the question with the highest number of emoji upvotes ⬆️My advice is to grow your network before you become a founder. Meet and talk to and build relationships with as many people as possible, because this whole industry is about making connections with the right person, and you never know from who in your network that next connection may come from.As far as groups or clubs, try to meet and build friendships with other Founder/CEOs so that you have someone to talk to. Being a founder can be lonely. When investors ask how they can be helpful, an easy thing they can do is connect you with founders they think you might vibe with on a friendship level. Hope that's helpful x
Hi Camille! You have a lot of incredible leadership experience. How did you approach your first 30/60/90 days as a leader in a new role? (Related - how did you deal with any imposter syndrome?)
Hi lavasunder! What a great question. For me there are a few things I look to accomplish in the first 30-60-90 days if I'm taking on a job at a company:1) Foundational work, namely to understand and know the business, people, customers, and goals. Developing this level of understanding requires listening and learning, so I try to meet as many people as possible and read all the docs, talk to customers, get to know competitors' products, and get a deep familiarity of the product I'm working on through data & analytics and the researchers and customer facing teams.2) define success with team. I believe in doing this collaboratively, not just for the purpose of achieving buy-in, but because the people closest to the problems for longer than I have been will likely have the most insights! It's also valuable to do this while you still have that outsider's perspective that you bring to the table as a new employee3) With a good understanding of the company's position and processes, and a definition of success that your team is bought into, it's time to get to work establishing and then evangelizing that vision for the year/quarter/etc and making sure all the stakeholders and people with opinions get input into this process as well.For starting a company my process was pretty similar - understanding the customers, market, and competition, then defining success with the team, then evangelizing (meaning recruiting and fundraising).Regarding imposter syndrome, I just remember everything I've managed to accomplish to date, and that gives me a boost of confidence that helps remind me that I belong in these spaces just like anyone else that made it there!
Awesome response! I love the parallel to working as a founder - recruiting/fundraising is totally evangelizing. Appreciate it :)
So thrilled to see you here! I’ve been a longtime twitter follower and remember when you announced Kit’s sale. Love seeing you here! Our business has gone through a pretty non-standard path of growth, and has yet to have any major funding rounds. When scouting for investment, what are red flags that turn you off of a business? Conversely, what’s something that is sure to catch your attention? Thank you!!
Hey whattsup Katherine, nice to see you here too and thanks for the Twitter follow 😂I think it's probably most helpful if I answer this question with what I do look for when I'm scouting:- Compelling product / problem space. I'm focused on Consumer (not D2C, but consumer software) because that's how I'm wired, so I look for products that I can get excited about.- Compelling founders. In the early stages everything is dependent on how dope you are as an individual, so that's what I'm looking for: can you execute? will people trust you enough to give you money? will people want to work for you? can you figure out what to do next when everything goes sideways? etc.- Big market. Because, capitalism. Most important is founder/market fit. The product and solution might change, but if you're exploring solutions in a huge, growing market, and you're smart, passionate, and talented, then your odds of success are even bigger! I learned a lot about looking for founder/market fit from two of my favorite investors, Charles Hudson and Ellen Pao.
Hi Camille, thank you for doing this AMA! A few questions:- Where did you find the content creators for Kit in the early days?- How did you recruit the first 100 creators to move onto your platform?- Why did you decide to build Kit community on a website versus a mobile app?I am also building a discovery-based community and have about a million questions I'd like to ask but want to be respectful of your time!Shweta
Hi shweta! Thanks for the question.- We snuck into a YouTube Creators Happy Hour in NYC and had conversations with creators who we later interviewed in the office. They became our first creators on Kit. - Our first 100 came from this initial group and from our friends who are creative for a living. We saw a major shift to online content creators like YouTubers and Instagrammers once we recruited our first big creators (ie 10K+ followers), which we did through cold emails. - Kit started off as a web prototype because our team at that time could iterate more quickly on the web than mobile. At the time, a lot of creators were doing "social management" type of work on desktop rather than mobile app, so we continued iterating on web given we were putting creators first in our approach to building the marketplace. The intention was to create a mobile app when we started investing more in the consumer experience. In retrospect I would probably approach this differently given another shot.Good luck building your community!
This is a great tips! Thanks for sharing.
Hi @CamilleH, this is great! What inspired you to create Kit and how do you see Patreon go from membership-based business to Merch at Patreon and beyond? Is it a trend for "creator economy/passion economy? Thanks!
Hi Samantha, thanks for the question. Kit was all about solving a problem me and my cofounders experienced: figuring out what product to buy is hard. Reviews online suck, and nothing beats a recommendation from someone you trust. We set out to build a network of experts recommending the best products so that we could build a "product graph" based on this data.I think Patreon will continue to work on figuring out how to help creators give their fans and patrons really unique benefits that the can't get elsewhere on the internet. Merch is a great example of this!
Thanks for your thoughts!
Hi Camille,Thanks for stopping by. It’s very impressive that you were able to grow to 1M users!How did you go about acquiring users? Was this just organic or was it a combination of paid marketing / applying strategies? Thank you :)
Hi Racheal,We worked really hard for every person who interacted with Kit! No paid marketing, but other strategies. The whole experience and growth was driven by getting Kit in front of the right creators who could find value from the experience. Thanks for the question.
Thanks Camille! I love that you mentioned getting in front of people who could find value from the experience! I’ll keep this in mind :)
Hi Camille! Just wanted to say love Kit and am a fan. Curious about what you find interesting in the field of #futuretech i.e. AI, ML, blockchain, AR, VR, XR, etc.
Hi Marie! Thanks for the note and for the love. This probably sounds lame given the cutting edge stuff you've listed, but I am and continue to be really excited about Voice as a UI. I watched a ton of Star Trek growing up, and all they do is talk to the computer on there. So I'm excited to see what's unlocked as NLP gets better and computers are better at responding. It's been fun talking to Siri in my new AirPods I got for Christmas, and you can see the future unfolding before our eyes! (ears?) lol.
Funny thing is I have been saying the same thing and now have a talk about Zero UI and what the means for the future of infrastructure and applications. I'm working on a new set of publications about the future of the internet that is inclusive of voice. Improvements in NLP are critical and there are also backend components of AI that can be smarter in translating between humans and machines, something I am working on from an IP perspective. People always ask me what's next in tech. I have been known to say. The keyboard is going away. Our CEO runs our whole company talking to his phone.
Hi Camille,Wow, that sounds amazing! I'd love to learn more how the scouting for Sequoia looks like. I'm with Ground Up Ventures (NY and Israel based) as a fellow and I research market, talk to founders, introduce startups to partners and totally enjoy this process :)
Hi Camille! Thanks for answering our questions!What would you say are pros and cons of working at a large org vs startup? How have you navigated career growth within each type of organization?Thank you in advance!
Hey Shelly, thanks for stopping by. In my opinion:Large company pros:- Stability and predictability- Benefits- Pay- Structure and process- Usually you're building things at scale that impact a huge number of customersStartup pros:- fast paced- autonomy and independence- most employees are heavily invested in mission- I find something really satisfying about seeing the direct impact of your work on the numbers- Upside potential Large company cons:- Sometimes I've felt like a cog in a wheel- Wasn't always easy to see direct impact of work - Lots of silos- Structure and process can sometimes feel rigidStartup cons:- Pay, benefits aren't as strong usually depending on size/stage of company- Sometimes (usually?) chaotic- Career development can be murky
Hi Camille! What resources or career steps would you recommend to others pursuing GM roles?What helped you get there?
Thanks for sharing your experience! What does an average week look like for investment scouting?
Hi Camille! Thanks for sharing. Wondering if you work with Entrepreneurs in Residence? And if you so, how venture firms get in touch with these individuals/ vice versa?
Hi Camille - what an Ahmazing background #saideveryoneeverThanks so much for your time - regarding Angel Investing, I saw that you have a preference to "defining the problem to be solved" vs "defining the solution" approach. I struggle as an Angel to convey this to new founders seeking my advice. Do you have any strategies, tips, best practices to communicate this in a respectful and effective way that can get their attention?Also - any advice on building your pipeline for angel investing?
Hi Camille - what was the most counterintuitive lesson you learned while building Kit?
Hello Camille, What the most important lesson you learned that makes your life at home or work easier?
Hi Camille! Super excited to have you hosting office hours this week. I guess my question is 2-part:1. What do you think future trends in tech for content creation and content monetization will be? Super curious as I have an individual-driven media marketplace (Curastory) :)2. Does being a Sequoia scout ever interfere with your day job at Patreon? Curious if you ever come across any quality competitors to Patreon and if so, how does one respond?Thanks so much again for joining!
Hi Camille: thx for sharing your great background and the OH on Elpha! Can I send you an email of our pitch deck and funding intro for Sequoia? Also had a ? of what amount to raise pre-revenue (is it better to start small for MVP testing like 100k then do another round?) or do a larger round of $500k)? Tysm in advance!
Hi Camille - Thanks for taking the time to answer our question. As a start up founder who's about to launch the MVP, what advise would you give as it relates to connecting with investors such as Sequoia? What's the best approach to get an audience?Thanks.
Hi Camille! Curious to know what your thoughts are on the tech community (or just community in general) between SF and NY and any differences in between. I've moved from New York to San Francisco where I am now and am always interested to hear from people who have experienced both coasts. Thank you!
Hello Camille,I am a 2019 Electrical Engineering Undergrad with experience in audio algorithms and digital signal processing. I am very interested in working in start ups. Any suggestions pls?
You're definitely doing many things right;-) I'd love to invite you to join us at and support our minority founders as you see fit!