This article is part of High Alpha’s CEO Spotlight series. We regularly sit down with High Alpha portfolio CEOs and leaders to dig into their business, team, and story. You’ll get an inside look at the companies in our portfolio and their incredible leaders and teams.
Last year, we launched Base from the High Alpha venture studio with $2.6 million in funding from Matchstick Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, High Alpha Capital, and the Slack Fund. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Base CEO Paige McPheely to talk more about the company, her background, and the company building lessons she’s learned.
In a sentence, tell us what Base does.
Base helps assistants and executives work better together. The tools and training Base provides remove the common struggles EAs and their executives face by creating built-in clarity, trust, context, and effectiveness.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got into the tech or startup world?
I never imagined I’d be in either of these worlds! After co-founding a remote executive assistant agency called 33Vincent a number of years ago, my business partner and I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of support and technology available to assistants — and as a result, the lack of resources available to the executives they support. After waiting a bit for someone to build the software we knew should exist, we decided we would have to be the ones to do it. I stepped away from 33Vincent in 2018 to build Base, and was introduced to Kristian Andersen at High Alpha along the way. We participated in a Sprint Week and were brought into the High Alpha portfolio soon after.
How did the idea for Base originate?
Assistants can be one of the most impactful hires within an organization because she or he provides leverage. However, executives rarely feel equipped to help their assistants succeed the way they do with their other direct reports. This has negative consequences for all involved.
But after years of trying to solve this through coaching, we knew there was a more effective way to impact this industry — technology. Before Base, executives were left to figure out on their own how to hire, train, and manage their assistants, and assistants were spending too much of their valuable time dealing with inadequate technology, manual processes, and communication inefficiencies.
We believe through technology and thought leadership, we can redefine what it means to be an assistant and receive the support of one — and that high performers everywhere should and will have at least some access to an assistant.
When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
It’s hard to say; one idea led to another, which led to an opportunity, and then another idea, etc. My last company was built more out of my own need to build a flexible environment for myself as a new mom struggling to figure out how to work outside of the home and be present with my kids. That business quickly took on a life of its own, revealing new and even greater opportunities.
I often say I’m a reluctant entrepreneur. I do this work because I fundamentally believe we are solving a real need, not because I always knew I wanted to build a company. But, I went into this latest venture with eyes wide open and was fully aware of the cost of entrepreneurship. Thankfully, I’ve got a tremendous partner and support network at my side.
What are you most excited about in your upcoming product roadmap?
This is hard to answer — we have so many exciting things in the works! But there are a few bigger features we are adding to our existing feature set that will make our users’ experience with Base even more comprehensive and robust. When building a new category of software from scratch, it’s so tempting to go wide with your features. We’re deliberately choosing to go deep instead, and we’re doing so in direct response to the needs of our users (who thankfully love giving detailed, organized feedback!).
Base recently completed its public launch and seed funding — what was one of your biggest lessons going through that experience?
We learned the value of having clear priorities and preferences for what we were looking for in our investors. Fundraising is hard, and it’s tempting to say “yes” to any money that comes your way. But by taking an investor’s money, you’re committing to spend the next decade or so with them. That’s not a decision to take lightly.
Thankfully, we could not be happier with our current set of investors. The journey was not without its bumps, but thankfully we had the luxury of being able to pick who we believe to be the best fit for our ethos, current stage, and future road map.
Through your career, who has been one of your biggest mentors or inspirations in your life?
My mom and my aunts were instrumental in my upbringing. I was thankful to have their unwavering support and love, and their example of just how kick-ass women can be. While they may not be able to tell you what SaaS means, they remain a constant support during this intense and exciting time.
Outside of Base, how do you recharge or spend your free time? What are you passionate about outside of work?
My kids are still little, but we’re nearing the end of the baby phase. I can’t say our weekends as early parents were even the slightest bit relaxing, but now I really like spending time with them and look forward to it. So these days (while the kids still want to be with us), my free time is almost all family time with lots of outdoors, cooking, and being active.
What advice would you have for other founders and CEOs of high-growth startups?
First, find an assistant if you haven’t already! Assistants are often seen as a luxury, a hire to make once you’ve really “made it.” I’d challenge you to consider how much more quickly you could reach your goals if you were freed up to focus on what is most essential and impactful. As Cameron Herold says, “If you don’t have an assistant, you are one.”
Next, somehow, find a way to keep a narrow focus while still thinking big. These often feel like opposing objectives, but I believe successful leaders find a way to hold both of these ideas simultaneously.
If people are interested in learning more about using Base or joining the Base team, where should they go for more information?
If you work with an assistant and would like to find a way to support her/him the way you support the rest of your team, let me know! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Audit’ in the subject line, and we’ll find time to talk.