Dr. Paul Conley, PhD
I am a builder, entrepreneur, and founder to my core. I never aspired to be a venture capitalist. Through a quirk of fate, I entered the tradecraft in 2007 the same way I made most decisions in my adult life. I seized an opportunity to work with someone way smarter than me, who happened to be an investor in my first outing as a founder several years earlier. Since then, venture capital has proven to be the best platform to leverage my hard-fought relationships and countless lessons learned by accumulating healthy scar tissue. VVP has been the continuation of my practice of working with people who are way smarter than me.
I’ve spent most of my adult life on the frontiers of science and engineering, primarily working at the intersection of physics, chemistry, and biology …or… hardware, software, and wetware. Call it high-tech, hard-tech, or deep-tech, I look for technical founders who have a fundamentally new insight into solving really hard problems that are worth solving. From there, my greatest professional joy comes from being that founder’s first call when they’ve had either a really bad day or a really great day, especially if they have started their next company and want to tell me about it.
Am I “founder-friendly”? Not exactly. I never forget who I serve: the investors who entrust me to be a good steward of their capital. However, I have never believed that being respectful and fair to founders is mutually exclusive with producing industry-leading returns to our investors. I have always believed that my investment is not in the plan but the person. As such, I look for people with a particular set of experiences, insights, and character traits. Then, I wake up every morning thinking about how I can earn the right to back them for the arc of their career, hopefully over the course of multiple start-ups, since all entrepreneurs are fundamentally serial entrepreneurs…including me.
If you would like to learn more about the stuff I’ve actually done, go here.