Entrepreneurship as an Investor

How is the New Order of GPs Disrupting the Industry? As entrepreneurship takes center stage, the venture investment community leverages operational experience to strategically position themselves to create value in early-stage high growth start-ups. Direct management insight and a network of technologically minded human capital becomes increasingly paramount for successful entrepreneurs, making this new wave of VCs much more than just a financial resource.
 

Moderator

Erin Griffith

Writer, Fortune Magazine

Erin Griffith is a journalist at Fortune. Previously she worked as staff writer for PandoDaily, Adweek and peHUB, and has written for Salon, BBC, Venture Capital Journal and The Huffington Post.

She was also a reporter for Mergermarket, where she broke M&A auction news in the consumer products, retail, apparel and food & beverage sectors.

Find her on Twitter at @Eringriffith

Panelists

Mike Brown

General Partner and Founder, Bowery Capital

Mike is the General Partner at Bowery Capital based in New York. Prior to Bowery Capital, Brown co-founded AOL Ventures and led investments in over 30 companies primarily focused around the next generation of CMO and CTO spend. Before AOL Ventures, Mike worked for the investment arm of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, helping to invest capital in early stage inernet startups on behalf of the British entrepreneur. He began his career at Morgan Stanley. Outside of his professional life Brown serves on the Board of Directors of the National Forest Foundation and co-chairs the Columbia College Young Leaders Council.

Mike holds an undergraduate degree from Columbia University.

Jon Callaghan

General Partner and Founder, True Ventures

Jon is an early stage venture capitalist and a founder of True Ventures. Jon has founded three of his own companies and has been in the venture capital business since 1991. Jon founded his first company, Mountain Bike Outfitters, Inc in 1986. He started his venture career as an associate at Summit Partners and then joined AOL's Greenhouse, the venture capital/incubator for AOL. Jon joined the internet market early by joining CMGi's @Ventures group in 1996. Before founding True, Jon was a Managing Director at Globespan Capital.

First as a founder and now as an investor, Jon's direct startup experience means that he has seen the world through an entrepreneur's eyes, making him a confidant and therefore priceless resource for the startups in which he invests.

Jon received a BA in Government from Dartmouth College and an MBA, with distinction, from Harvard Business School. When he is not empowering the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, you can probably find him talking about airplanes or playing with his children.

Eric Hippeau

Partner, Lerer Ventures

Eric Hippeau is a partner at Lerer Ventures, a New York City based angel fund specializing in financing technology startups. Prior to this, Hippeau was the CEO of the Huffington Post which he joined in June, 2009, after investing through SoftBank Capital and taking a Board seat in 2006. Hippeau joined HuffPost in June 2009. Hippeau is a co-founder of NowThis News.

Prior to joining HuffPost, Hippeau was managing partner at SoftBank Capital. Hippeau joined SoftBank Capital in 2000 from Ziff-Davis, Inc., where he was Chairman and CEO. Hippeau joined Ziff-Davis in 1989 as Publisher of PC Magazine. He became President in 1991 and Chairman and CEO in 1993. In 1995, SoftBank acquired Ziff-Davis, and Hippeau continued in the role of CEO until 2000, when the company was sold. Hippeau was also responsible for founding ZDTV, a cable channel dedicated to technology and the Internet.

Hippeau was President of SoftBank International Ventures, where he established SoftBank’s international private equity funds and expanded them into Europe, Latin America and Asia. He was also SB Capital’s board representative for its direct investments in companies, such as Yahoo!, Geocities and CNET.

Hippeau serves on the boards of several public and private companies including Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, BuddyMedia, and BuzzFeed. He served on Yahoo!'s board of directors . He is also on the investment committee for the SB Asia Infrastructure Fund. Hippeau graduated from the Lycee Francais de Londres and attended the Sorbonne University in Paris. Hippeau lives in New York City with his wife, Barbara; they have four children and two grandchildren.

Nihal Mehta

Founding General Partner, Eniac Ventures

Nihal Mehta, a noted expert in the emerging adoption of mobile technologies for media properties and consumer brands, has founded five mobile startups and invested in over seventy since 1999. Nihal is a Founding General Partner at Eniac Ventures, the first seed stage venture fund focusing exclusively on mobile technologies. Prior to Eniac, Nihal founded LocalResponse, Inc., which makes ads more relevant from social signals, a pivot from buzzd, the first mobile real-time city guide. Nihal grew LocalResponse to an eight-digit annual revenue run rate which placed the company to the Forbes 2013 list as #67 of America's Most Promising Companies and #568 on the 2013 Inc. 5000's Fastest Growing Companies. Prior to LocalResponse, Nihal founded ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in 2001, which he sold to Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005. Nihal is an active angel investor and his portfolio includes Admob (sold to Google), Swiftkey, Tapad & Uber.

Nihal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Philosophy and a BSE in Computer Science.

Laura Sachar '91

General Partner and Founder, Starvest Partners

Laura is an experienced entrepreneur and private equity investor. She has founded three successful entities, was an early identifier of the growth in digital media and has invested for over a decade in technology-enabled business services companies. As a founding partner of StarVest, she has been active with StarVest's investments in Connected Corporation (acquired by Iron Mountain in 2004), MessageOne (software-as-a-service company acquired by Dell Computer in 2008), Newgistics, (acquired by a private equity firm in 2013), iCrossing (acquired by Hearst in 2010), Fieldglass (acquired by Madison Dearborn in 2010), ideeli (acquired by Groupon in 2014), Veracode (first on-demand, application security solution that provides automated application security testing through SaaS delivery model), NewComLink (a payment network platform that connects retail consumers), and Precision Demand (improves the performance of direct response television advertising).

Prior to founding StarVest, Laura was responsible for direct private equity investments at Gabelli Securities where she sourced digital media investments in Multex Systems (subsequently NASDAQ-listed and acquired by Thompson Reuters) and the first institutional round of Digital River (NASDAQ:DRIV). In the early 1990's, Laura identified digital media as a growth area and founded Sachar Capital, which sourced Redgate Software, founded by Ted Leonsis, (merged into AOL in 1994) as an investment opportunity for its Advisory Counsel. Laura was the Founding Chairman of the New York New Media Association Angel Investors Program, a professional nonprofit organization in which she assisted hundreds of early-stage New York area companies in accessing initial capital.

StarVest Partner’s value-added partnership maintains a laser focus on five key emerging technology and services sectors: Software as a Service (SaaS), Internet Marketing Services, eCommerce Services, Software Security Services and Data Aggregation Services. StarVest gained national recognition in 2007 as the lead venture capital firm in NetSuite, whose December 2007 initial public offering opened with a $1.6 billion market capitalization, at the time, the highest market capitalization of any venture capital–backed technology IPO since Google.

Laura has a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University, and an MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. She is a member of the Young President's Organization (since 2003). Laura resides in Manhattan with her two daughters.