Chicago Investor, No Actually Midwest VC Investor

Apr26, 2016

Guy Turner was recently interviewed by Matt Strauss on Venture Connects

Coming in at 6 feet 4 inches, and running a venture capital blog VC With Me, Guy Turner can seem quite intimidating. Just look at our picture, he literally towers over me. And yes, you heard it here first; Guy’s blog is potentially brilliant and will be known around the VC world sooner than you think.

This was my first time meeting Guy and immediately I realized he is determined, yet possesses a down to earth demeanor. We opened our conversation focusing on Venture Capital and the Midwest landscape. (It’s nearly impossible to ignore a discussion revolved around the Chicago business startup scene and the Midwest early stage company investing landscape when you witness Hyde Park Venture Partners’ office, designed from table to wall in geographically cut shapes of the Midwest, Chicago and/or Illinois.)

The reason I am analyzing my interview with Guy is that the way our conversation went very much reflects Guy’s recent 360 Survey post. A 360 Survey solicits feedback from internal and external sources in order to improve upon weaknesses, perceived or otherwise.  Before I dig in, a venture capital group that has an internal review from all the employees and stakeholders is rare to find. Most venture capital groups are digging deep into their invested startups, not themselves. Guy summarized Hyde Park Venture Partners’ 360 Survey by saying:

Yes, there was improvement from it (the 360 Survey) overall. The way you behave is like any addiction – you default to a norm and the only way to break it is to admit it as a problem.

The survey opens the door to more honesty and in my book – honesty is key in efficiency. I relate efficiency to execution, and let me tell you, Guy is all about execution.

Execution example #1 – Consulting. Guy was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group. He brought this up when I asked him my favorite question, “What experiences have helped you develop the way you think?” Guy answered:

Being a consultant for two years, and figuring out how to influence people without authority is incredibly difficult. You cannot influence without credibility. It took me a year to realize credibility comes from relationships.

This translates to venture capital and investing, because most assume technology should scale quickly. However the company and its technology won’t scale unless the right systems and people are in place; relationships are needed to truly influence key decisions and hiring.

Execution example #2 – Guy Turner, Ira Weiss, and Tim Kopp, the founders at Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP), believe in execution over having a label. HPVP looks for founders that execute. These founders often fall in one of two categories:

The first being older teams. Teams with one to three successes behind them. They are now tackling a new industry and usually B2B or marketplace focused. We are often comfortable writing smaller checks without much product built, because we know that the team can execute.

At times, past execution speaks louder than present progress. Guy also explained the second type of founding team.

The second group being highly motivated younger aged teams. These teams have some years in the space, work 90 to 100 hours a week and have some traction.

In Guy’s view, work ethic speaks louder than words.

Guy Turner, Ira Weiss, Tim Kopp and their team strive to differentiate Hyde Park Venture Partners from other venture funds in a couple of distinct ways.

First, HPVP focuses only in the Midwest. Second, our team is very senior. Lastly, after HPVP invests, we focus on filling in the gaps with key executive hires, while building a go-to-market strategy with key milestones to get to a Series B financing. We help bring in great and experienced talent through our extensive investor and executive network.

From there, it comes down to relationships to ensure their companies execute, since the systems are all in place. Remember though, in order to execute and become more efficient, the company must be able to admit there is a problem. Sounds as if the 360 Survey can be a solution for many early stage companies.

About HPVP: Hyde Park Venture Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on software startups in the Midwest. With offices in Chicago and Indianapolis – and a network of advisors throughout the region – HPVP invests in proven startups with talented management teams with proven fast growth. Their sweet spot is investing in B2B software and consumer marketplace startups. This team takes great pride in being tenacious, responsive, and impactful to potentially all of their stakeholders: entrepreneurs, co-investors, and limited partners alike.

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