Measuring Success

This past weekend we had a bunch of family members in town. I am the only person in my family who isn’t involved with some sort of academic pursuit. Most are teachers, lawyers, and doctors. They tend to group finance into one big Borg. Lucky me. Each time we get together they ask, “How are your clients doing?” “Is this going to be a good year?” I manufacture a response that in some way answers their question but in no way actually reflects “my year”.
Venture capital is nothing short of a marathon (some would argue an Ironman). We measure success in scaling Heartbreak Hill, not trading days. What gets lost in this tendency to measure short-term gains is what I believe to be the most rewarding aspect of working in venture capital — the opportunity to work with incredibly talented entrepreneurs.
Monday was a big day for one of those very folks. Josh Coates, the CEO of Instructure, won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. This is a big deal. A very big deal. We couldn’t be happier for Josh and to be frank, he totally deserves it. Josh is one of those exceptional people who encapsulates a bunch of amazing attributes. He is wicked smart, caring, thoughtful, honest, super creative, and incredibly direct (just look at his LinkedIn bio). As one BOD member recently said, Josh is Instructure. He is also exactly the type of entrepreneur that we love to partner with. This is isn’t his first rodeo. He has skinned his knees a few times and knows how hard it is to build a company. He is also incredibly gracious about his and Instructure’s success. And he does all this outside the echo chamber of Silicon Valley.
We have been fortunate to back several folks including Kevin Merritt (Socrata), Dan Rodrigues (Kareo), Rod Favaron (Spredfast), David Brussin (Monetate), Oren Michels (Mashery), Bill Beamish (Fieldaware), and Alan Gould (uSamp) among others, who have the same vision and drive. Josh doesn’t drink, but I would like to raise a proverbial glass to him. Accomplishments like Josh’s are how I measure my year — not in trading profits or deals closed, but in watching our partners fight and scrap each day to build world-class companies. So to answer the question, I am having a great year.

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