Robert Hatta

Robert Hatta

I get a huge rush from seeing small teams grow to achieve big dreams.

I didn’t think I’d move back to the Midwest. And I never expected to be part of a venture capital firm here. When I finished high school, my first instinct was to get as far away as I could and, for me, that meant California. Stanford accepted me and there was no question where I was headed. When I hit my early thirties, my priorities and sights shifted back to Cleveland (around the same time Lebron took his talents to South Beach). I knew very little about the opportunities that awaited me but was convinced that I could build the life I wanted for my family, while continuing a career in the world-changing, technology companies I love. I was right.

Prior to that point, I’d spent ten years in San Francisco and London, launching new products or marketing strategies for consumer facing tech companies. I loved working in tech startups because I could see the direct impact of my effort every day. I was fortunate to spend time at two iconic companies, Netflix and Apple, working with the smartest, most driven people in the world. There, I spent as much time building teams as I did building products. In the crazy competitive Silicon Valley talent market, recruiting, interviewing and hiring high-performance teams are a required part of any job description.

When I moved back to Ohio, I found a small but growing community of startups trying to do similar things to what I saw in Silicon Valley. As I integrated into this community, something strange happened. The founders I spoke to weren’t interested in what I knew about product or technology. They were asking me questions like, "How do I split equity with my co-founders?" and, "What's a product manager do?" or, "How do I recruit an engineer that makes twice as much at the big company?" I found that my experience building teams had a bigger impact on these startups than anything I knew about product. So I pivoted my career and began helping startups build leadership teams and implement recruiting best practices.

I get a huge rush from seeing small teams grow to achieve big dreams. Equally, few things feel better than connecting talented people with trajectory-shifting career opportunities. At Drive Capital, here in the Midwest, I get to do both every day.

Robert hatta