This week I caught up with Venture Partner, Ray Thek. Ray’s role at WV is to identify opportunities where WV can add value to a prospective start-up and then work with that founding team to utilize the resources of Wasabi Ventures to help achieve success.
1. What attracted you to the start-up world? Did you have any prior experience with/as an entrepreneur?
The start-up world was not initially what attracted me to Venture Capital. Venture Capital was what I had an interest in and had a passion for far before working with Wasabi Ventures. Coming to Loyola and Baltimore accompanied with meeting TK have provided me extensive opportunities in the field. Also, because my father is a corporate lawyer, I have had experience with hearing about the work he had been doing and saw VC as creatively intelligent aspect of busies that would allow me to purse things that other segments in finance would not.
Upon be given the opportunity by TK to work in the field, I found that my preconceived notions about the industry; about what I loved; were true and I learned even more.
I have a lot of passion and have learned a great deal about and from the start-up ecosystem in the Baltimore area thus far.
It’s one thing to have talent for something, but when you love it, it doesn’t feel like work.
2. How did you translate that prior experience into a passion for helping other entrepreneurs succeed in the ecosystem?
There are two sides to this: part of being a good VC to the companies we work with is being able to add value rather than just money. I believe you can add value in two ways: first, having a good sense from investors’ side and in depth understanding of markets and finance. Second, having connection to entrepreneur side and to know what drives them. It takes a certain spark to be an entrepreneur and understanding that and being able to help individuals with what they are going through. Also, it is important to be able to help them see things the way you see them and bring real practical customer development and business development experience. Adding value past just past capital investment.
3. Tell us a bit about your role as Venture Partner with Wasabi Ventures:
As Venture Partner, I focus on outreach, socializing, and evangelizing in the start-up communities and companies in the Baltimore/ DC area with the ultimate goal of presenting promising companies into the WV process, and then supporting them using the resources of the firm.
4. What has been the most interesting start-up you have seen so far?
I think its difficult to say that one start-up is more interesting than another. Some are more practical and more creative and there are some that would make a better investment than others. However, in summation, Baltimore is really full of talent and I have been thrilled to meet new people. I am looking forward to working with some of the interesting start-ups we have been talking to.
About the interviewer:
Kendall D. Ryan: Kendall is Director of Events and Outreach for Wasabi Ventures and is tasked with all entrepreneurial community outreach activities: social media, webinars, PR, events, and the Entrepreneur’s Bible!