When I was sixteen a family friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, I want to be an entremanure – obviously I didn’t know how to pronounce the word.
Ever since then, I have experienced the joys and the manure of being an entrepreneur. Working with people who have the conviction to start something new, to go against the status quo, to take the personal and professional risk that they are wrong is what has drawn me to the business of venture capital.
When Chris and I started Drive Capital, my friends and family thought I was crazy to leave Silicon Valley where I had built a fabulous career. That is past. Who wants to look only in the rearview mirror? Yes, I was a worldwide product manager at Apple at 23, started my own company with two friends, took it public on NASDAQ and sold it for hundreds of millions of dollars, and was a general partner at Sequoia Capital leading investments in market defining companies such as LinkedIn and MarkLogic. But who really cares? Not me.
My joy is looking into the eyes of a newly minted entrepreneur and seeing the grit and heart they have to defy the odds and build something great out of nothing.
This is what we have done at Drive Capital. We believe the Midwest is the best place to build a company. We have bet our careers and reputation that we can find the world’s next household names in technology right here in the Midwest. I believe we will find the next Larry Page in Chicago, the next Jack Dorsey in St. Louis, the next Jim Goetz in Ohio, and want to provide them the resources to build their dream companies right here.
I spent my first 50 years in Silicon Valley, watching it grow from cherry and apricot orchards to a force that ushered us into the silicon age. I can’t wait for my next 50 years and watch how the next technological transformation happens not from cherry and apricot orchards but from the consumer packaging, manufacturing, insurance, and healthcare services companies of the Midwest. This is the next frontier, where being close to the customer will be more important than being close to the technologist in building the future technologies that have a great impact on our world.