An original super angel turned multi-stage investor, Aydin has been named on the Forbes Midas List for the past nine years (2014-2022) as well as the New York Times Top 20 Venture Capitalists list for four consecutive years (2016-2019). Before starting Felicis, he was the first product manager at Google and helped launch their first ten international sites. He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with Honors from Boston University, an MBA in Marketing from the Wharton School, and a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Aydin currently sits on the Graduate Board of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The most underrated aspect of success is proper instrumentation—if you want a daring outcome, make sure to measure what truly matters.
How did your early life and career affect your viewpoint today?
Growing up, my dream was to travel internationally and one day have a job that would involve working with people from around the world. I went to a German high school and lived and worked in Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, and Brazil, which helped me be prepared for anything and quickly adapt to any environment. I grew up in Turkey in an era when inflation was 100% for 18 years in a row (before I left for college) and have invested through multiple major downturns (and fundraised in one), so I can definitely say I’m mentally prepared for any financial extremity and can relate to founders. While at Google, I closed the company’s first deals in two dozen countries, which allowed me to develop the ability to break the ice with virtually anyone. This time also taught me the importance of learning and appreciating other cultures and putting myself in others' shoes at all costs. If you are just being transactional, you can’t expect success.
What anecdotes demonstrate how you’ve worked with founders?
No challenge is too small for me. I’ve made complicated connections, convinced high-impact advisors and hires to join a startup under very low odds, and helped close huge deals in impossible timelines a week before Christmas. I’ve also gotten critical intel that helped founders change course, and helped them with critical telemetry—nudging them to see a perspective they might’ve missed. The most extreme thing I’ve done is to sacrifice some of our firm’s returns to allow an M&A deal to close (it was being held up due to an unreasonable investor) because I knew what that exit would mean to the founders.
What’s one of your proudest accomplishments?
My proudest personal achievement is that my kids and family have seen that I have always put them first and that I genuinely love them—I’ve been married for almost 17 years. Looking at where we started and where we are today, my proudest professional achievement is what we’ve accomplished at Felicis with our track record and our team.
What’s one lesson you want to impart to your children?
I want to make sure that they know when you try to do something you truly love, you have to commit 110% so you can really be the best in whatever that is—never commit to doing anything if you know your effort will be less than 100%. It’s not worth it.
What advice would you give to a founder starting a company now?
Understand how to define success and how to measure it. It’s not raising a particular round or an exit; it’s building a company that could really be at the top of its field one day.