Welcome to SL #29! We recently sat down with Alan Taetle of Noro-Moseley Partners, one of the largest venture capital firms in the Southeast. Joining him was Greg Foster, who recently joined Noro after driving the corporate venture arm of Turner Broadcasting. If you want to know what drives Noro, and these two investors in particular, you’ll want to tune in. We also talked about a smattering of other things, including Appcelerator’s departure from Atlanta and spreadsheet jockeys.
Another group of pathetic entrepreneurs get tossed under the bus … firmly. Some great listener emails and a sprinkling of StartupLounge humor round out another great show. Enjoy!
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Shownotes and Interview Questions:
As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:
- Give us your elevator pitch for Noro-Moseley Partners
- Tell us about your recent closing of a new fund
- Was it hard to raise this fund, given the economic climate?
- What is the story you tell potential limited partners that excites them about investing in Georgia and the Southeastern US?
- How would a legislative bill like SB-80 help a fund like Noro-Moseley?
- Do you have meaningful competition for deal flow?
- Could you highlight a success story of which you’re particularly proud?
- What’s your take on Appcelerator’s departure from Atlanta?
- A lot of people have a view that Atlanta VCs, like NMP, don’t have much of an interest in seeing true early-stage companies. Their perception is that most regional VCs have moved upstream to more emerging growth type deals. Can you clarify NMPs position in this area?
- Greg you recently made the move from working in corporate venture capital with Turner to a traditional venture capital firm. What challenges did you face in making that change, and how are you finding the transition?
- When you receive an opportunity and you’re inclined to pursue it, what is your process for examining that opportunity?
- There seems to be a lot of venture fund raising activity here in Atlanta – some existing venture players that have been dormant for a while are raising new funds (e.g. Kinetic), and several new funds are in the works. From Noro’s perspective, is this a positive thing for Atlanta or a negative thing for Noro?
- Recently, there was a big flap in the Atlanta blogging scene around the notion that some regional/local VCs are “spreadsheet jockeys”, meaning they tend to invest based on analytics and business models rather than a simple opportunity to create value in the marketplace without necessarily having an easily illustrated business model firmly in place. What is NMP’s view on this?
- On average, how long does it take to get you from that starting point to an agreement on an investment?
- What is the best way to get an opportunity in front of you?
- How many opportunities do you get exposed to a year and how many investments do you make?
- When dealing with you guys, what’s one thing that’s an absolute no-no?
- How involved are you day to day with your portfolio companies?
- If you were to “sell” yourself to an entrepreneur to take you on as an investor, what do you think is your biggest selling point?
- What is a piece of advice you would give to new early-stage investors?
- If you could change something in the environment or ecosystem to make your jobs easier, what would that be?
- What’s your overall assessment of the Atlanta early stage market? Is it improving, and if so, how do you see that?
- If you were to give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs that might want to approach you for capital, what would that be?
Listener Emails Read and Answered on the Show:
Myhsar: When attending an event with potential angels, which “30 second” pitch do you start? The first being the actual product or service that your company provides or second the potential investment numbers and potential roi? Also, should one have a tri-fold brochure or fact sheet that one leaves with the angel?
Ben: I recently launched an online community/social network that I thought was in a very niche field. After doing some research it appears that there are several other sites out there that cater to a similar audience. Any ideas on how to make an online community stand out from the competition? And second, any thoughts on some ways to monetize an online community?
Carolyn: I recently took the plunge and started my own venture. I have someone who might be willing to invest in my startup, but they want a seat on the board. What are the pros and cons of taking capital early on and giving up a seat on the board?
Fiberman: Great podcast guys! I really enjoy the content and the back and forth. Here is my question; I have what I think is a great idea for a tech startup. Unfortunately, all of my experience is in sales and marketing, and while I’m technically literate, I can’t do software development. How can one find programmers to work on a startup idea, who is willing to work for nothing in exchange for a piece of the action? Thanks in advance!
Alan Taetle joined NMP in 1998 and has focused his investment activities on software and information technology companies. He currently represents NMP on the boards of Abaco Mobile, BroadSource, Clearleap, M1Global, SecureWorks and Vocalocity, and oversees one other investment, Damballa. Alan was previously a director or observer for several prior NMP investments, including Adjoined Consulting (sold to Capgemini), OpenSite Technologies (sold to Siebel Systems), CipherTrust, Inc. (sold to Secure Computing), and PRE Holdings (sold to First Data).
Prior to joining NMP, Alan was the Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for MindSpring (which merged with EarthLink in 2000). Alan joined MindSpring as its 13th employee in 1995, and oversaw the company’s subscriber growth from 4,000 to over 325,000 in just three years. Prior to MindSpring, Alan served in various systems and product management roles with CogniTech Corporation, makers of contact management software; Itochu International, a Japanese trading company; and Electronic Data Systems, a systems integration consulting company. Alan is a previous board member of ChoicePoint, Inc., a NYSE company (sale pending to Reed Elsevier) focused on providing information that helps companies make educated, intelligent choices to reduce risk and fraud.
Alan is a past Chairman of the Florida Venture Forum and serves on the board of both the Florida Venture Forum and the Atlanta CEO Council. Alan serves the co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Cliff Valley School, a non-sectarian independent school in Atlanta. Alan received a BA from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Greg joined NMP in 2008 and has focused his investment activities in technology with an emphasis on digital media. Greg is active with several NMP portfolio companies and currently serves as a board observer for Clearleap.
Prior to joining NMP, Greg served as Vice-President of Corporate Development for Turner Broadcasting, where he was responsible for Turner New Media Investments, the company’s early stage strategic investment arm, as well as M&A activities. Greg joined Turner after it acquired his company, Southern Direct, a business focused on building branded e-commerce extensions to linear cable channels. In addition to founding Southern Direct, Greg has been a member of the management team of two other successful start-ups, serving as SVP of Corporate Development at iXL Enterprises and VP of Business and Corporate Development at Silverpop Systems. He began his career as a consultant at Deloitte Consulting, where his efforts were focused on building internet strategies for clients including Prudential Insurance, Sonoco Products and the New York City Transit Authority.
Greg is the chairman-elect of NVCA’s Corporate Venture Group Advisory Board and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Council on Economic Education. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, where he was a President’s Scholar, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
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Podsafe music used within this episode:
- Neolith by Kevin MacLeod
- Old Keith Richards by Paul and Storm
- All the Money in the World by Hutch
Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.
Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.
|Under the Bus:||05:35|
|Main Discussion Topic||29:06|
A special thanks to Alan and Greg for coming in and hanging out with us!
We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.