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And the Winner Is…

January 27, 2016 - Author: admin

Well, the day is finally here. I’m ready to announce the winners of the Neal’s Running Start program. The decision process was much harder than I ever anticipated, as I had so many good candidates apply.

In fact, I had so many good candidates that I decided to change the rules a bit.  I originally planned to bring three entrepreneurs to San Francisco, but in the end, the applications were so strong, I decided to go with four winners instead.

Congratulations to the following entrepreneurs, in alphabetical order of their company names:

  • Neal Oddens is the CEO of IncreaseOnline, which is based in Amsterdam (Two Neals, so we’re going to have to have a nickname for you, Neal O.
  • Antti Rikkien is the Co-Founder of Zero Keyboard, which is also coincidentally based in Helsinki –

All of these winners come from very different companies and backgrounds, which I think will make the whole experience more productive and interesting for everyone.  I chose all of them for specific reasons. In the next few weeks, I will do a blog post on each of them individually so you can all get to know them before they arrive in San Francisco this Spring.

I’d like to send out a big thank you to the White Bull conference in Barcelona who introduced me to some fine European entrepreneurs.  Two of the winners came through their introductions and assistance.  I hope to spend more time with White Bull this summer and Fall talking about the results of this adventure.

Congratulations to the winners, and I look forward to their adventures in San Francisco.  I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to their arrival.

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Onward to 2016

January 2, 2016 - Author: admin

Another year has passed, so like many of you, I’m reflecting on what went well, what didn’t and how I’d like to focus my time for 2016. As I review 2015, the events that brought me greatest joy stand out. Whether it was the IPO video blog series, or the Angel investment video series, or working with entrepreneurs and students at the University of Washington, I find that one theme has become clear to me – I am happiest when mentoring entrepreneurs.

With that in mind, a portion of 2016 will be include mentoring entrepreneurs in a more structured way.  In early January, I will announce 3 entrepreneurs who will join me in San Francisco for a month of intense mentorship.  I call it Neal’s Running Start. I’m bringing entrepreneurs from various corners of the world to Silicon Valley so they can learn more about Silicon Valley funding, strategies and ways of doing business. I won’t take equity in these companies or ask for a piece of the pie.  I’m merely committing time and energy to give them a running start with their businesses, because working with entrepreneurs feeds my soul.

I hope Harry Marshall will also be back in 2016 to help with the Running Start program.  Harry was the original mentee.  Though Harry is British, he is living in Spain and came to Bay Partners for three months to learn about the VC process.  He took his lessons back to Spain with him and totally changed how he operated his company.  Today, his company is thriving and growing faster than he anticipated.

His time with Bay Partners in 2013 was what really inspired me to start this program.  Harry is still a fellow with Bay Partners and has been an integral part of selecting new companies for angel investment consideration as well as selecting the final candidates for Neal’s Running Start.  Harry even came to our winery in Italy this autumn for the stomping of the grapes.  That mentorship experience has grown into an important collaboration for me, and I look forward to fostering more long-term relationships with entrepreneurs in the coming year.  Watching them grow and learn is a bit like watching your child grown up.  It’s exhilarating to feel part of their process.Vendemmia 2015 HarryVendemmia 2015 Neal

Certainly there were other successes to celebrate for Bay Partners.  We had two IPOs this year and we have two funds that are continuing to flourish and offer great returns.  Bay’s X and XI were once again ranked in the top quartile of the funds in their vintage by Cambridge Associates, and of course we are very proud of the results.  But even those results are the culmination of a lot of time spent with the founders of these companies and helping them find success through the highs and lows of running a company.

As we bring another year to a close, I’m excited for the year ahead and for the mentorship opportunities that await. I wish you all much joy, happiness and continued learning experiences in the year to come. I will continue to keep you updated here on the blog and hope you will share your thoughts and ideas as we go.

Happy new year, everyone!


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