Are Ideas Linear in Finance?

Listening to Ben Horowitz speak at the Chicago Venture Summit, he made a point which he’s made before.  Venture capitalists invest in really bad ideas.  But, if those ideas work it would be pretty cool.  He used AirBnb as an example.  You are going to rent out a room in your home to someone using a blowup mattress.

That is a bad idea.

In finance, we are a lot more pragmatic.  We are solving actual problems when we invest in a startup.  Usually a person has experience with it.  They have felt the pain.  They build software to solve it.

Are there bad ideas in finance?

There certainly are.  I suspect as we start to see a lot more innovation on the back office/process side of the business where 67% of the costs are we will see a lot of bad Continue reading "Are Ideas Linear in Finance?"

mHub Pitch Competition

On October 7, I will be at mHub judging a pitch competition.  The details are below.  Hope you can make it.  Here is a link for tickets.

Build312 and BASIC (Blue Angel Startups & Innovation Club)are honored to bring the 10th China Shenzhen Nanshan “Entrepreneurs Star” Contest to the Midwest. This initiative is joined by over 30 institutions across 8 states as well as the startup hubs like 1871, Technori, Polsky Center, The Garage, FinTank, etc. Our goal is to provide local startups with the best resources to facilitate their success, and to integrate the Midwest startup community with a broader, global one.

Since 2008, this China-based annual pitch competition has attracted 200+ participating teams globally, and helped raise more than $430,000,000 in total for these startups. This event has generated more than 1,000 media reports, involved over 3,000 contest judges, investors, academic professors as Continue reading "mHub Pitch Competition"


I have a daughter flying today. She says flying on 9/11 should be a safe day to fly. My parents decided to ride out the storm in Florida not listening to the advice of their children.

It’s 16 years since 9/11. For a lot of people entering the work force today, this is just an entry in a history book. Like Fort Sumter, Pearl Harbor, and the Kennedy Assassination, 9/11 will be a touch point and a point of reference for a generation.

I was trading that day on the floor. I had just gotten back from a vacation in Colorado and walked into a disaster. My house had flooded from a cheap gasket in a second floor toilet bursting. 14,000 gallons of water later….

My family and I were living in a hotel when 9/11 happened. We thought we had it bad until that day. Then we considered ourselves Continue reading "9/11"

Chicago Fin Tech Event on Sep 13 at MakeSpace

When Kenny and I started West Loop Ventures, we had three things we wanted to accomplish.  Obviously, making money for our LPs and ourselves was a goal.  But the two other goals were different.

One of them was to educate the community about issues in B2B Fin Tech.  We have hosted two events in the past around these issues.  Now we are participating in a third hosted by CFX.  Getting information to the community about B2B Fin Tech issues will help entrepreneurs think about them and build companies around them.  This is important to us.

I am going to moderate a discussion on some cutting edge issues in Fin Tech on Sep 13.  Click on the register link to see who will be coming.  I hope you can come.  It’s at MakeSpace in Chicago. We are going to be discussing some cutting edge events in B2B Fin Tech.  Some of Continue reading "Chicago Fin Tech Event on Sep 13 at MakeSpace"

Truss Takes it To The Next Level

One of the last independent angel investments I made was into a company called Truss.  They were solving a very difficult problem in commercial real estate.  If you have tried to find space of 10,000 square feet or less, it’s really really hard.

  • CRE Agents don’t want to work with you because it’s just not worth their time.  They don’t make much money from it and have to dedicate the same resources.
  • A lot of the building owners don’t have any convenient way to list or show space.

Yet, it’s a huge part of the market.

Truss had a really great proven founding team.  I had developed a relationship with Bobby Goodman via some of my other investments.  Bobby had and continues to have a very good grasp of issues in CRE with a very deep network.  Another founder, Andy Bokor, and I met via startup stuff and Hyde Park Continue reading "Truss Takes it To The Next Level"

Female founders in Chicago still struggle to secure funding

The well-documented gap in venture capital funding also exists in Chicago.

In the last five full years, Chicago startups with at least one woman founder never received more than 20 percent of the venture capital funding or deal flow in the Chicagoland area, according to data provided to Chicago Inno by data firm Pitchbook. In that time, startups led only by women have never received more than 9 percent of venture funding or deal flow in the Chicagoland area.

Even as resources for women-founded ventures has grown in Chicago (and despite increased scrutiny of the gender gap in startup funding in recent years) it doesn’t appear that deal flow to women founders in the city is trending upward just yet. In 2016, just 15 percent of deals and just 10 percent of venture capital dollars went to Chicago-area companies founded by at least one woman (comparatively, 16.9

Continue reading "Female founders in Chicago still struggle to secure funding"

A Sensible Discussion on Race

I have avoided posting on my blog about what’s happened in America over the past week.  Safe to say, I am not on the side of any white supremacists.  I am also not on the side of anyone that wants to end the system of government in America, like Antifa.  Ben Franklin replied to the question of “What did you do in there?” by saying,  “We created a Democratic Republic, if you can keep it” on his way out the door of Independence Hall.

Our Democratic Republic has suffered all kinds of threats over its lifetime and today is not any different.  I will say that we have a lot of different groups that would love to dismantle our democratic republic.  They’d like to dictate to us what to do, and eliminate choice from individuals.  They are engaging in violent means to repress and oppress people.  That can only Continue reading "A Sensible Discussion on Race"