Over the past weekend, InSITE DC Fellows had the chance to meet one of the more renowned investors in the Washington D.C. area – Grant Allen. Grant is the Senior Vice President of ABB Technology Ventures (ATV), the venture capital arm of ABB. ATV’s focus areas include industrial technology, 3D printing, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency, cyber security, analytics and renewables. Prior to working at ATV, Grant was a Vice President at Core Capital Partners in Washington D.C. Grant is also one of the founding members of NextGen Angels, a prominent Angel Investor group in the DC area. It was great learning from Grant about his background and his industry experience.
Grant shared four key lessons with the Fellows:
Industry knowledge is key: Grant worked in a variety of industries before becoming an investor. He sees himself as a generalist. He had a lot of touch-points in the mobile sector ranging from consulting to product management. He mentioned that in addition to his education, his broad range of industry experience helps him successfully navigate through the investment process.
Breaking into VC: The investor community is closely knit. The best approach to building a career in this field is to network and bring in operational, industry or start-up experience.
Joining a start-up: His advice regarding joining a startup was to choose a good team with a mediocre product over a great product with a mediocre team. He suggested that Fellows should look for good people that they can work with since it is likely that they would spend a lot of time working as a team. Having a great team makes working easier and tackling problems far more efficient.
Co-investing can be beneficial: Investing with another venture fund helps to share best practices and provides an opportunity to mitigate risks.
Amir Kabir is a second-year MBA student at Georgetown McDonough and an InSITE Fellow. He has experience as an IT consultant and project manager.