An answer to my Crazy

September 22, 2009

For the past 23.5 years, I have been haunted with two age-old questions; “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. Whether it be from family, friends, professors, interviewers, recent acquaintances, infomercials, etc. I have never been able to give an answer or even begin to make something satisfying up.

I have honestly at some point wanted to do almost every job I have ever heard of. I have seriously considered being a weather woman, astronaut, pilot, chef, hotel manager, teacher, joining the US Navy, being a foreign ambassador, working for the UN, sales, marketing (though still not sure exactly what this entails), masonry, historian, green-energy promoter, paleontologist, programmer, color-namer, and the list goes on.

As a child and teen, I used to think that this was a good thing. To be honest, I just thought my “calling” would pop up someday unexpected, or that I would discover my “inner genius” and pursue it. Part of me also thought that if I didn’t know what I wanted, I couldn’t possibly fail. In college, I studied two of the most broad things possible: International Studies and Economics. And I loved it!

OpenView Venture Partners has really begun to quench this thirst. On a day to day basis, I am speaking with people from all walks of life, many countries, various backgrounds, different positions within a company for various reasons. I speak about similar topics with people from London, India, New York, Berlin, California, Atlanta, Houston, Australia, Italy, Singapore, Buenos Aires, etc. and they all have completely different views and opinions. Everyone in our office obviously has different opinions, but these people make me think of things I’ve never even considered.

For example, my partners and I have been speaking with a company in Asia recently. They are growing great, have a couple million in revenue, a lot of customers, high margins… AKA sound perfect, however, THEY are concerned that the market is not big enough and they may not make our minimum 5x return on investment. If this were a CEO out of Boston or New York, no offense, this most likely would not happen. So is this a cultural issue? In Cultural Communications and Global Management classes, I learned that in many Asian cultures, it is rude to be up front and to “brag” about yourself. If this is even remotely true today, I do not know. However, does this company simply not want an investment from us and the CEO is too polite to tell us, and is the market fine and he is using it as an excuse? On the other hand, a CEO from around here may do a great job selling her company to me and I’ll get really excited about it and then realize after further research and discussions, it is actually not so great at all.

Working at a venture capital firm and focusing strictly on expansion stage companies has made me both look at things much more objectively while still allowing me to understand the “whys” from different angles. Also, it is very interesting to see that companies with very similar products are selling into totally different markets. Some companies with similar products are looking for expansion capital to hire sales people to get into enterprise level customers while some are looking for venture capital to do more marketing and drive online sales, lowering their ASP and increasing their smaller clientele. It is very interesting the ideas people have when thinking about raising venture capital.

So, I guess a venture capital firm is a great place for me because it is always changing and new ideas are always being built, never making me bored. I love speaking with the CEOs because they are all very smart people, all thinking a million miles an hour, changing and adapting to the world and coming up with better and different ideas ahead of many others. That previous thought also sums up everyone at OpenView which brings about constant internal changes as well. Go figure…

Market Research and Competitive Intelligence

Jillian Mirandi works in Market Research and Competitive Intelligence at <a href="">NetSuite</a>. She was previously a research analyst here at OpenView.