I’m very excited to be finally be able to announce that this week we’ve added Sam Rosen to our ranks at GRP Partners in the role of entrepreneurs-in-residence – EIR.
And it’s the latest in a series of investments we’ve made in building out our practice as the LA technology market continues to grow robustly and attract entrepreneurs and investors.
It made me realize that we’ve never properly introduced our associates:
We’re excited to continue to grow our investment professional staff and will continue to do so over the course of 2013 & 2014 with our new fund.
So what is an EIR and why Sam?
When I sit down to write every week I never really imagine what is going to end up resonating the most with people but it seems I’ve most often been defined by my post that I Invest in Lines, not Dots.
Sam in the perfect example.
I became aware of Sam several years ago as I started noticing his name repeated in the comments section of my blog. So I had a sense that I knew who he was. He pinged me that he was thinking about joining a startup based in LA with the CEO in NYC and would I be willing to meet him and give him advice on this process.
I’m always interested in young, talented people who want to move to LA. I looked up his bio, “UVA, banking analyst, doing some early startup work” and thought – sure – come meet me for a coffee.
I told him my strong biases. I don’t believe in distributed teams in early-stage business. Sure, there are exceptions. Of course – some people can be remote. But the CEO in NYC and the team in LA? Not for me.
At the time I was meeting Sam I was fishing off coffee with Jody Sherman. Hustler – meet Baller.
They collected each other’s information and Sam immediately built a relationship with Jody. I could see how he took one small intro and thought, “this guy could be useful” and made sure to follow up on the relationship.
I was a proud angel investor in Jody’s company, EcoMom. At the time of that investment I had exchanged notes with Dave McClure who also invested.
Sam later decided he wanted to do a startup. His first seed investor came from an intro Jody provided him. And he decided he wanted to be part of the 500Startups accelerator. So he leveraged his relationship with Jody to lobby Dave. And voila – he was suddenly fast and furious buds with Dave. He of coursed required me to lobby on his behalf as well. He was in the inaugural class of 500Startups and became chief evangelist as far as I could tell.
I thought that was the end of it. Nice kid, but I see lots of nice kids.
Sam had different plans. He found creative ways to politely stay on my radar screen. He sent me a few nice emails. He used the 500Startups platform to uber network in the Bay Area where he was living. He founded a company and tried to persuade me to use his product (and invest). It wasn’t for me but I love his … hustle.
He invited me to play Word with Friends. I normally decline because I have my 2-3 WWF friends and don’t really have the time to expand that. But he caught me while I was on vacation so I thought, “WTF, I’ll show him who’s boss!”
He started sending me messages through WWF. Clever MoFo. He wasn’t in my face or over the top. Just things like, “hey, are you going to come by 500Startups to meet the companies & give a talk?”
Um … are you here to play or to talk?! Just kidding. He was polite about it.
Months later I did agree with Christine Tsai that I would come out and talk to the class. And by my Instagram photo or Tweets he must have realized I was in San Francisco and would need to get to Mountain View (an hour away) to speak. He texted me and offered to give me a ride down there. I was planning to take a taxi – so perfect!
Of course he pitched me the entire ride down
His business concept wasn’t for me. But I loved his hustle.
A year or so passed. We had talked from time-to-time. But nothing major. I was going to be in NYC and I was combing the market for people to join Launchpad LA. I thought Sam might know some talented young entrepreneurs to apply. We love out of town people who apply. In fact, applications are still open if you’re interested.
At coffee he told me he had shut down his startup and was thinking about “what next.” He had two ideas. We never got to the second idea. I LOVED the first. Loved. That is rare as 98% of the people I meet can tell you.
I told him that he needed to ship product before we could fund it. But … we had committed to setting up an EIR program where we would fund people to work on their ideas in our offices and also get the dual experience of working inside a VC. Come to entrepreneur pitches. Come to partner meetings. Help us review a few deals. Intro a few entrepreneurs. The choice of how much VC work and how much start-your-company work you want to do is up to you.
We hadn’t really formalized the program yet but I had been wanting to get started and always best to do so with a real rather than theoretical person. Was he interested? Yes. Great.
But would my partners buy into Sam? And think as highly of him as I do? And the idea? They’d have to love the idea, too.
I told Sam he’d have to come to LA. I was going to be traveling a lot and it was near the end of the year so I’d try to help him organize a day where my partners would all be in the offices.
I got home the next week and asked my assistant to look into a time on the calendar where all partners would be together to meet a potential person whom we were considering investing in.
“Ok, send me his contact details and I’ll find a date for him.”
“Sam Rosen. He’s in my contacts.”
“Sam? SAM! I know Sam. It’s already set up. He’ll be in the offices in 2 weeks. He’s on everybody’s calendar. He asked for separate one-on-one meetings. I hope that’s ok.”
They loved him. They loved the concept. Sure, let’s have Sam Rosen by our first EIR.
I’m excited to see what he produces. I’m ecstatic to have in the LA community. I look forward to working with him on GRP business.
And I welcome him to GRP. I hope you will, too.
[update: judging by the reaction & stories in the comments and on Twitter / Facebook it's clear that had this same impact on many people!]