By | Dr Marshall Goldsmith | #1 Leadership Thinker, Exec Coach, NYT Bestselling Author. Dartmouth Tuck Professor Mgmt Practice
My friend Dan Levitan, venture capitalist and managing partner of Maveron does. He’s been the successful backer of such companies as eBay, Zulily, and Allbirds. Personally, I find what Dan does fascinating! He recognizes the patterns of incredibly driven, consumer-centric entrepreneurs and it has lead to some amazing successes.
Dan is one of my coaching clients, and when I started working with him, I had no clue what venture capital even is. Most of my clients are CEOs or “could-be” CEOs of very large organizations. Dan has a lot to teach about venture capitalism, I’ve asked him to share his knowledge with us in this interview. Think of it as the 101 of venture capitalism.
Marshall: What is venture capital? How does it work? How does your firm work?
Dan: Great questions!
Venture capital is pretty simple to explain. America is a country of innovation. And, that innovation needs to be funded. Venture capitalists raise money from institutions and individuals to create a pool of money. Then they spend their time looking for the best entrepreneurs, who have the greatest and boldest ideas. They try to match them up with areas of interest. For instance at Maveron, we’re looking for the best consumer-focused, end-user consumer brands.
We try to find incredibly driven, consumer-centric entrepreneurs and bring to them the pattern recognition of having done this with many consumer brands over time. We then package this up with not just advice, but with a network of consumer experts and money to help accelerate an entrepreneur’s dreams.
Ideally we catch them in obscurity and watch them go from there to ubiquity.
Marshall: A great example you use of a company that you did this with that is successful is Starbucks.
Dan: I met Howard Schultz and the team at Starbucks when it had 100 stores and today I think the number is something like 27,000! It is a true story of success, certainly.
Marshall: Yes, it’s a wonderful story. Thank you for this great 101 view of what a venture capitalist does!