It’s almost surreal for me to think that exactly twenty years ago, I was a green twenty nine year-old working on the first startup financing of my career and that yesterday, we announced our new $150 million fund at Techstars. Many people have heard Steve Jobs’ famous speech about only being able to connect the dots looking backward and I’ve been reflecting lately on the dots that brought me to this new and exciting chapter in my life.
When I moved to Idaho and co-founded Highway 12 Ventures in 2000, I never could have imagined that it would lead me here to this moment in time. I was a young, brash east-coaster, trying to raise my first small fund ($25M). Pam and I started out living in her mother’s house and had a one-year old daughter with a son on the way. With the dotcom bubble imploding, it was probably the worst time in the last fifty years to try and raise a venture capital fund.
With the help of Jim Hawkins and our terrific partners at Village Ventures (Matt Harris, Bo Peabody & Matt Warta), we somehow raised the fund. Around the same time I met Phil Reed, the amazing partner who’d I’d go on to work side-by-side with for the next dozen years. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had his mentorship all these years. He’s been part father, part brother to me and his impact on my life has been profound. As Phil enters the twilight of his remarkable career (which included founding or co-founding over a dozen companies including both ComputerLand and BusinessLand), any startup would be lucky to have him as an outside director. His wisdom and kindness is immeasurable.
I’d also like to thank Mike Mers, George Mulhern, Glenn Michael, Decker Rolph and Eric Breon who all made enormous contributions to the success of Highway 12 Ventures along the way. I’m grateful to all of them. The most special thanks go to my amazing assistant Denise, who is currently finishing up kicking cancer’s ass with a grace that’s been an inspiration to everyone who knows her. I could never do what I do without her incredible support. I’m also thrilled that one other person who made a great impact at Highway 12 Ventures has recently joined Techstars. Derek Keller (who cold called me for a summer internship after graduating college 8 years ago) has done an unbelievable job as an associate and then principal at Highway 12, and has now joined Techstars Ventures as a principal.
Connecting the dots to this next chapter, David Cohen wrote a beautiful post yesterday about how it came together and Brad Feld added his perspective in this wonderful piece. I feel so fortunate to be working with 60 absolutely remarkable people at Techstars. We’re empowering entrepreneurs worldwide with the network and resources to build successful businesses wherever they want to live. David Brown wrote a great summary the other day about how we’re doing here.
In his uniquely special way, David Cohen did such a beautiful job in his post recognizing so many people who have contributed to the magic that is Techstars. The Managing Directors, Program Managers, Associates, Hackstars, Staff and Mentors are what make Techstars such a special place for the founders who choose to partner with us. I echo David’s sentiments about all of the incredible people we get to work with. They make Techstars a community filled with such positive energy that you can’t help feeling fortunate to be a part of.
While David mentioned them all, I’d like to point out a few people by name who have made this such an incredibly rewarding experience for me. Molly Nasky, David Brown, Jason Seats, Nicole Glaros, Ari Newman, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Words can’t begin to express my gratitude.
Lastly and most importantly, thanks for saving a seat on the train for me David. You inspire me and everyone around you. It’s a helluva ride…