This week is another major step on my path to cementing my venture capitalist career -- it is my first road trip with a portfolio company. While technically Double Fusion was our first portfolio company, my involvement in that venture is much more complex, as I am co-founder, investor, and initially part of the management team. And by the time Jerusalem Capital got off the ground this past Summer, I had stepped down from active involvement in Double Fusion (back to that later).
So this past Sunday morning I set out with Shimon Constante, CEO and co-founder of mPortico, to tour the US in search of strategic partners and potential next-round funders. We are now half way through our journey, having spent two days in the Bay Area. For me it was a new experience, sitting at the table not as CEO or even title-less but completely committed co-founder. Now I was there as "active" investor. No matter how "involved" I claim to be, I am perceived, and this matches reality, as something short of a wild eyed entrepreneur. Shimon, on the hand, played the role (quite well!) as complete passionate. I find myself consciously holding back in discussions -- because I know that both business partners and potential investors need to see Shimon as the CEO -- as the guy they are staking their decision on. After all my theoretical speeches about the need for seed stage venture capitalist to empower CEOs, not squash them, I was put to the test.
As we not market ourselves as smart but passive money, I did not feel the need to sit idly by, taking active part in all the meetings -- yet feeling the need to let Shimon shine, to give him the space to articulate his vision for mPortico (which is still somewhat in stealth mode, although we do say publicly it is focused on a unique, patent pending method of mobile content/application distribution). if I felt, however, that it was an emergency situation, to protect my own capital as well as that as my investors, I would do whatever it takes. Thank goodness, Shimon gave me no cause for concern, as well as the rest of the team, and we are pretty far along after these two days. Now we need to keep up the pace -- with meetings already scheduled for CES in January and 3GSM in February. Our challenges are well-defined, and the market completely validated our reading of the pain points. All we have left to do now is execute...and deliver what we claim to be developing.
I write this sitting at SFO waiting to board the red-eye to New York, where we spend another 2 days before heading home. I know this the beginning of the journey for mPortico, but also formal beginning of the next stage in my growing into new guise of seed stage venture capitalist. May both mPortico and Jerusalem Capital continue in the positive momentum both are currently enjoying!