What is your name?
Who are you and what are you doing?
I am a 2012 graduate of W&L that currently serves on the investment team at Greenspring Associates. Greenspring is one of the largest venture capital investment platforms with $3.1 billion in assets under management. We invest in venture capital funds, directly into later stage technology and healthcare companies and into secondary opportunities.
Specifically, I assist in our due diligence across all investment types and spend a good deal of my time interacting with our limited partners.
Where did the idea for your current startup come from?
While I am not an entrepreneur myself, our firm has invested in about 70 later stage start-up companies. To answer the question in a different way, some sectors that we believe are currently poised for strong market tailwinds include: the “Internet of Things”, cyber security, marketplaces that harness existing assets and cloud software.
What books, ideas and people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to other entrepreneurs?
Peter Thiel is one of my favorite entrepreneurs and investors. In my opinion, there is no one in our generation that has the ability to blend philosophy, political theory and engineering into a framework for investing and founding companies like him. I would recommend his most recent book, Zero to One.
Brad Feld is probably my favorite venture investor. His blog, “Feld Thoughts” provides a ton of digestible information for founders and does a great job of demystifying venture capital.
What are your favorite online tools, software or resources and what do you love about them?
I have been getting into LiveScribe a lot. It is a smart pen and paper product that seamlessly connects to Evernote and email. It has been a huge help in keeping me organized.
In terms of resources, I am a huge fan of technology blogs. For us, keeping on top of pertinent news in the start-up and venture community is critically important. For that, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, PandoDaily, Mashable and GigaOM are all great resources.
What startup besides your own are you most excited about?
I think the Bitcoin ecosystem is extremely interesting. The most interesting aspect in mind opinion is not its ability to displace other currencies, but rather its capabilities from a payment standpoint. I would love to have an entirely secure and digital wallet with the ability to track and understand my spending habits. Circle is an early stage company that is doing just that.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?
From evaluating a wide variety start-ups, it has become apparent that having a well rounded founding team is important. Also, I think realistic pro-forma financial statements, an understanding of relevant metrics and a solid go-to-market strategy are also very important. The other thing to keep in mind is that early stage companies often pivot into other verticals. That is okay. In fact, venture investors in many case come to expect that. The true test is demonstrating product/market fit through early customers who have had great experiences with the product or service.