I moved to Columbus for two core reasons — opportunity and impact. My journey to find those started almost two decades ago, though. Rewind back to 1998 and you’ll see me headed to San Francisco, excited about the possibility of being a part of something new. The Internet felt like the early days of television, radio, and electricity all rolled into one. I immediately jumped at an opportunity to join Alexa Internet, later acquired by Amazon, where I learned firsthand what it really took to build a startup.
I always mention Alexa because it was influential in shaping the way I think about and tackle problems. It gave me the confidence to start my own companies there in the Bay Area — Infinite Research and Discovery Mining. I quickly learned that you can build a great product through an engineering-led culture and that team will win every single time if you are focused and have conviction. Both of those companies were acquired, but more than that, I continued to learn in the most effective way what it means to start and build.
I spent time working as an EIR at both EMC Ventures and Khosla Ventures before founding my third company, Formation Data Systems. Formation was started in 2012 and we quickly realized that to scale the company we needed to grow faster. Looking outside the Valley for startup talent was foreign to me, but we set our sights on Colorado.
And that lead to my ‘aha’ — Formation opened an office in Boulder and I was blown away by the quality of team we were able to put together in short order.
Spurred on by my firsthand experience at Formation, I discovered exceptional areas of innovation across the country. Chris (from Drive) invited me everywhere from Minnesota to Chicago, Pittsburgh to Columbus. As I travelled, it became crystal clear you can build a huge company anywhere when you have the right entrepreneur matched with the right partner.
It was happening all over again — I felt the same opportunity, the same spirit of change and possibility that I felt moving to Silicon Valley 17 years ago. I knew it was time to move and take advantage of this new opportunity to work with the next generation of companies being built.
At Drive I’m now investing in those great entrepreneurs looking to solve big problems while making a meaningful impact on global markets. There is so much going on in the Midwest that it’s hard to keep up, but if you’re an entrepreneur working in Security, Data Science, Big Data, Infrastructure, and SaaS, I’d love to talk to you.