The Driver of the Valley: Venture Capital

downloadToday we were lucky enough to sit down with Mitchell Kertzman, Managing Director at Hummer Winblad Venture Capital. I will first give a little background to Mr. Kertzman and Hummer Winblad, and then I will discuss a few of the insights we learned.

Mr. Kertzman started his career by teaching himself programming and eventually starting and running his own company, Powersoft. After receiving funding from Hummer Winblad in 1991, Powersoft was eventually acquired by Sybase and Mr. Kertzman became CEO. After dozens of other CEO positions, Mr. Kertzman entered the Venture Capital field with a wide range of small and large operational experience. Naturally, he started his venture experience at the firm that invested in his company. This 25-year-old venture fund is unique because it focuses on business to business (B2B) software technology innovation. Most of its investments go toward business intelligence, data analytics, and software development companies.

One of the most insightful dialogues we had with Mr. Kertzman was what he looks for in a start up. Obviously risk assessment of the technology, market, and operations is essential, but one human trait he discussed was particularly interesting to us. He believes that the best start ups have high-integrity leaders that are willing to listen. Also, he invests most in leadership teams that are passionate about their company’s future, yet still willing to adjust to changing environments.

Some other topics that were discussed were the future of mobile advertising, the levels of venture funding, and how a venture fund actually acquires its investment capital. If there was one overarching theme to our conversation with this wildly successful venture capitalist, it would be that management leaders need to be adaptable. The future never goes exactly according to the business plan, but the start ups that are best able to course-correct are going to have the highest probability of success.