Ron Bernal

Venture Partner

Ron joined NEA in 2010 as a Venture Partner and focuses on infrastructure software investments. He serves on the boards of Cohere Technologies, Gladly, MiiM and SmartCar, and works closely with Tigera. Prior to NEA, Ron held partner roles at Sequel Venture Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures, where he led a range of technology investments at both. Before his career in venture, he held leadership positions at Cisco and Silicon Graphics. He also co-founded two companies in the networking and computing spaces.

You have firsthand experience as a founder and CEO. How has that experience informed your work as an investor?

Being a founder can be really lonely. I know the value of having someone you can open up to and share concerns with, so I work to earn and establish that trust. I want them to feel comfortable coming to me for help and never feel like they have to navigate through entrepreneurship alone.

What’s one word you want founders to use when describing their partnership with you?

Advisor. I always aim to serve as a sounding board and someone who offers counsel without being prescriptive. I’ve been in a founder’s shoes before, so I have empathy toward what it’s like to be building a company in the midst of many unknowns.

In your opinion, what matters most in the process of building a company?

Three things: First, bringing the voice of your customer into the development process early. Second, having strong engineering and product management pillars in place that become embedded into your company culture. And third, strong go-to-market expertise so you can find the best routes to the market.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?

Think big, take risks, be intellectually honest, and align yourself with a strong team. I firmly believe in the expression “You’re only as good as the company you keep.”

What motivates you?

Helping others accomplish their business or personal goals.

What makes NEA a valuable partner?

While there’s typically one board member, with NEA, you’re backed by an entire team willing to roll up their sleeves at any point throughout the company-building journey. We have subject matter experts across talent, technical, marketing, sales, finance, and business development. I think the breadth and depth of our experience, combined with our team-oriented approach, make NEA an incredible asset for a founder to have.

When you’re not working, what activities do you enjoy doing?

I love biking, backpacking, fly-fishing, and astronomy. I think that being able to connect deeply with nature helps us stay grounded.

I’ve been in a founder’s shoes before, so I have empathy toward what it’s like to be building a company in the midst of many unknowns.

Ron Bernal, Venture Partner