Geoff Entress, the Go-To Startup Investor, Weaves Himself Deeper Into Seattle Tech Community With Founder’s Co-op
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always attracted us to Geoff was what he was doing on the side…He was doing great deals on his own initiative.” As DeVore puts it, “Geoff was up to his elbows in grass-roots investing.”
That’s as opposed to the traditional venture model of putting more money to work at a slightly later stage, and swinging for home runs that can generate 10-fold investment returns. Going back to the grass roots fits with DeVore and Sack’s original vision for Founder’s Co-op as a seed-stage fund. To date, the firm has raised one small fund, of $2.5 million, in 2008.
DeVore wouldn’t comment on any new fundraising efforts, but it seems safe to say Entress is coming on board at least in part to help ramp up the firm’s investments. Presumably that will mean raising a new (and larger) fund—perhaps in the $10 million to $15 million range—something more similar to Founders Fund in Silicon Valley, or what investors from Spark Capital and Venrock are cooking up on the East Coast. It will be interesting to watch how this new breed of smaller, early-stage technology funds springs up across different geographies, and how successful they become.
Like a lot of things in business, the key to Entress’s success has been personal. Probably even more important than his deep knowledge of the mechanics of tech investing has been his approachability and generosity of spirit—in an industry not necessarily known for either. For years, he has made an effort to be out and available at startup and investment forums and conferences—not just around Seattle, but nationally—and to be closely involved with groups such as Alliance of Angels, Keiretsu Forum, Zino Society, Puget Sound Venture Club, and the Angel Capital Association. That has made him accessible not only to top entrepreneurs, but also to other investors and wealthy individuals who might be interested in leading their own deals if they get a little guidance.
“He’s a really smart, really nice, approachable guy who has a passion for early-stage investing,” DeVore says. “He became a node, a conduit, to meet other entrepreneurs and investors. He made himself available to help, without having it be about putting money in his own pocket. He gave so much of himself to so many people in the ecosystem that he became the go-to guy.”
Others in the business community seem to agree. “The key to Geoff is he’s always more willing to take meetings with people who are young, or off the beaten path, than most VCs,” says Nikesh Parekh, a tech executive, investor, and former CEO of Bio Architecture Lab who has known Entress for about 10 years (but hasn’t invested with him). “And if Geoff is willing to invest, chances are high he’ll be able to attract other people.” On the technology side, Parekh says Entress was one of the first in Seattle to make investments in social networks, in the mid-2000s—in companies like Shelfari, BuddyTV, and Cheezburger Network. “The business models have yet to be proven, but Geoff was early … Next Page »
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