1
Do Not Take This Software Era for Granted (Pt.2)
2
Do Not Take this Software Era for Granted (Pt. 1)
3
You Might Owe Your Job to a Veteran
4
Tips on Negotiating a Termsheet
5
Why I Joined Origin Ventures
6
How To Bend the Arc of Your Career to VC
7
The Forces Behind a Hungry M&A Market

Do Not Take This Software Era for Granted (Pt.2)

This is part two of a series. Read the first post here.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a predecessor to the Internet called bulletin board systems (BBSes). Enthusiasts used modems to call other computers that hosted BBSes. Those that knew how to navigate it and who were willing to break the law could download practically any piece of software for free. Here’s how it worked.

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Do Not Take this Software Era for Granted (Pt. 1)

We live in an amazing era of software. We walk around with powerful networked computers in our pockets/purses where we can wirelessly download millions of software titles, most for free, in under a minute. While most people can appreciate how insanely cool this is, I think there is an important secondary effect. An aspiring software engineer or product manager can experiment and experience basically an unlimited range of existing software to find inspiration and to lean what’s convention and what products are paving new territory. That’s a really powerful dynamic, and I believe will give rise to the greatest generation of engineers and product mangers…all who will grow up with an addiction to downloading apps on their mobile devices and fiddling with little limitation.

Take advantage of this opportunity to experiment freely. Don’t take it for granted. You see, a lot of senior product managers these days grew up in an era where software experimentation was really costly. You had to pay big bucks for each software title and you had to physically go to a store to get them. I know, I know, the horror of going to a store. But that was the only way software was distributed then. And when you don’t drive and you don’t have any money, exposure to a range of software at a formative age was prohibitive.

Except if you knew a couple of important tricks and you were willing to break the rules.

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You Might Owe Your Job to a Veteran

I had the privilege of attending a launch lunch for the Bunker Incubator earlier this week in Chicago, thanks to my friend and US Airforce vet Todd Olhms. The Bunker is an accelerator for veteran-owned businesses that has started in Chicago but has quickly spread to seven cities. Among its many purposes is to create jobs for our veterans.

It occurred to me yesterday that aside from being thankful to our veterans, those currently serving in the armed forces and their families for what they do to protect our country, I am also thankful for another reason. A US Army veteran was the father of the modern venture capital industry. In a sense, I owe my job to an veteran.

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Tips on Negotiating a Termsheet

Last year, OpenTable founder and all-around great guy, Chuck Templeton, asked me to put together a talk on negotiating termsheets for participants in his Impact Engine program. Although Chuck thought he was asking a favor of me, I found the process of organizing my thoughts on negotiating termsheets (and in general) a personally useful exercise. Below is a digest of the talk including some of my tips.

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Why I Joined Origin Ventures

In June, I made the difficult decision to leave one of the Midwest’s finest venture capital firms, OCA Ventures. I began my career in venture capital at OCA in 2001, when I started as an intern. I will be forever grateful to the mentors, partners, support staff, founders, management teams and friends that made working at OCA and working with its portfolio companies such a rewarding and formative experience over the last 13 years. I will continue to serve on the board of Base CRM and have responsibilities for OCA’s investment in Alert Logic. I will still be rooting hard for OCA and its portfolio companies as an investor in the funds.

 

I am excited to announce that I joined Origin Ventures at the beginning of September. Origin is a venture capital firm in Chicago that invests primarily in series A rounds of technology companies and highly-salable services businesses. Our specialties include e-commerce, SaaS, digital media and advertising technology. Origin is perhaps best known for being the first investor in Grubhub, IfByPhone, Whittl and many other great businesses. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Origin and its partners over the last 10 years in various capacities- as a co-investor, board member and in the thicket negotiating deals. We’ve had the chance to see one another react to significant challenges, navigate through negotiations, perform cap table calisthenics, seize opportunities and work alongside entrepreneurs. Working in a small partnership is different than other jobs I’ve had. You are electing to intertwine your financial, professional, personal and every other aspect of your life together. Consequently, there is a lot of comfort working with people who you know and when you’ve already been tested together.

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How To Bend the Arc of Your Career to VC

I am still learning the formula of what makes a great venture capitalist. In an examination of other successful investors and my own numerous deficiencies, I’ve composed a theory that the best venture capitalists are a Jack/Jill of all trades and a master at a couple. Here’s how to bend the arc of your career toward venture capital.

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The Forces Behind a Hungry M&A Market

The M&A and IPO markets for VC-backed companies is hot right now, and there is much attention on the huge wins like Whatsapp, King, Grubhub, and many others.

But there is also a lot of activity at the lower end of the market (exits in $12M – $30M range), and I think there are several prime forces behind these exits that we’ve experienced with some of our seed-stage deals that were sold quickly:

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Copyright © 2014 Jason Heltzer