Venture is all I’ve ever wanted to do. As a college and law school student, I played tennis every summer weekend with Dick Kramlich, one of the founding fathers of venture capital and a founder of New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Whenever we’d break — so I could catch my breath, despite our 30-year age difference — I would flood him with questions about his business. I could not believe there was such a profession as venture investing — getting to meet entrepreneurs and support their visions with capital and advice. I wasn’t sure how I would get into this exclusive “club,” but it became my dream.
It was a long, winding road to get here. From practicing securities law on Wall Street to shifting my career through a Stanford MBA, to managing Morgan Stanley’s Internet practice as an investment banker and partner with Mary Meeker, and to founding my own start-up, I finally made it to venture capital. It’s all I’ve done for the past 15+ years and I’ll do it as long as I can. And yes, it has been everything I imagined and more.
My background prepared me to invent MVP as a “Full-Stack VC.” Throughout my tech finance and VC career, I’ve had experience with large institutional investors (Wall Street firms + endowments), multiple billionaires, and thousands of Stanford alums. I’ve been on the other side as an entrepreneur and felt the value of an excellent, engaged board. I’ve experienced the power and scale of institutional capital as well as the value exceptional individuals can bring to growing businesses.
With MVP Ventures, we wanted to re-imagine venture capital. Why not combine the strengths of both institutions AND individuals under one concerted investment strategy? We imagined a do-it-all firm leveraging the talent of a broad-based retail investor network, combined with the strategic networks of a hand-picked set of ultra-high-net-worth investors, topped off by a capital war chest that only institutional investors and large family offices could fund. And so, we began with MVP’s influential investor set, tacked on CHAMPION’s young, aggressive talent pool, and capped it off with PINNACLE’s scaled institutional capital — completing the industry’s first full-stack venture firm.
The one piece of advice I’d offer anyone is to learn as much as you can by taking risks. In my career, I’ve been a securities lawyer, an investment banker, an entrepreneur, and a venture capitalist. It’s a non-linear, weaving path from structured progression to off-road, undefined evolution. Each of those experiences expanded my knowledge, helped prepare me for where I am today, and gave me a broad perspective to bring to both entrepreneurs and investors.
The secret to being successful is never giving up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to find the strength to get back up and try again. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. In fact, it can be pretty scary. But when I see founders push past the fear to bring a vision to life that will help make life better for others, it’s totally exhilarating. I’ve seen several cycles now, and the ones that survive often eventually thrive.
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