Give First

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Can you give too much? John China, President of SVB Capital, reflects on how mentorship helped him grow into an executive, and on whether, at some point, you need to see payback from all your giving. Spoiler alert: the answer is no. Never stop giving.

In over 23 years at Silicon Valley Bank, John China has made it his mission to make connections between entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and more. Many, many entrepreneurs at Techstars and beyond have benefitted from his Give First perspective on working with startups: that you “give, give, give” and you have to “be willing to do that for a long time.”

David Cohen asked John, “At what point do you need to see some payback from that giving?” You should really listen to hear his whole, fascinating answer, but the short version is: You keep giving.

John recently moved into a new role as President of SVB Capital, with $4.5 billion under management, and he’ll be supporting entrepreneurs and startups at their earliest stages. John and David talk about what this new role means for him and for entrepreneurs. And they get into how John’s mentor at SVB helped him grow into an executive, and how John is paying it forward by mentoring women and other POC. He describes himself as “first generation Mexican American from immigrant parents”—and his life experience has contributed strongly to making him the Give First person that he is.

We also just announced our news of an investment led by SVB Financial, as part of our continued long term partnership together in support of Techstars' global expansion and continued growth, check that news out here!



Techstars personnel and/or guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, and not the opinion of either Techstars or any company discussed in this podcast.

This podcast is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal, business, investment, or tax advice. You should consult your own advisers as to those matters. References to any securities are for illustrative and/or informational purposes only and do not constitute an investment recommendation or offer to provide investment advisory services. Furthermore, this content is not directed at nor intended for use by any investor or prospective investor, and may not under any circumstances be relied upon when making a decision to invest in any fund managed by Techstars.  Certain of Techstars funds own (or may own in the future) securities in some of the companies discussed in this podcast.

What is Give First?

In the startup world, Give First means simply trying to help anyone—especially entrepreneurs—with no expectation of getting anything back. It's the pay-it-forward principle that builds strong startup networks. Hosts David Cohen and Brad Feld—Techstars cofounders, lifelong entrepreneurs, and startup investors—talk with mentors and founders about what giving first looks like in action, and how it makes great entrepreneurship possible.