Last Thursday, InSITE Fellows Brian Ballan, Lee Cooper, Frederico Lourenco, and Jack Chao met for breakfast to chat with Ben Siscovick, General Partner at IA Ventures, who was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us.
After each of the InSITE Fellows introduced themselves and shared their backgrounds, Ben told us the story of how he ended up in the venture capital industry. As a former student at Columbia Business School, Ben realized after his summer internship that investment banking wouldn’t be a good fit. Ben subsequently reached out to Roger Ehrenberg in an attempt to help Roger out with his angel investments. Ben was flat-out rejected, but kept at it until Roger finally allowed him to work with a portfolio company. Through that opportunity, Ben became one of Roger’s trusted partners, and later became part of the founding team at IA Ventures. Moral of the story for those looking to break into venture capital: you create your own opportunities through initiative and persistence.
Some other topics that came up over breakfast:
- When the IA Ventures team determines whether to invest in a company, one key criterion is the team’s passion for the company’s mission.
- IA Ventures employs a hands-on investment approach to companies in its relatively concentrated portfolio. The firm commits significant time, energy, and personal connections into its companies in order to make them successful.
- There are some exciting trends in the “Big Data” space, for instance the proliferation of sensor technology (i.e., The Internet of Things) and the convergence between IT and healthcare.
It was a fun, informative breakfast and we all had an awesome time, as demonstrated by the happy faces in the photo below.
This post was written by Jack Chao, Columbia Business School Class of 2014