Today's Entrepreneur


Today's Entrepreneur: Cindy Padnos

No.1 mistake: thinking that great technology by itself wins

Innovation series by Sylvie Leotin
June 29, 2011 | last edited July 22, 2011 | Comments
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Vator is the home to entrepreneurs who embrace their passion and follow their dreams.

We are a diverse community of dreamers, builders, and trailblazers, who want to change the world, build great products/companies, and make an impact. 

Today's entrepreneur is Cindy Padnos, a trailblazing woman, and Founding Managing Director of Illuminate Ventures.

Cindy is an accomplished entrepreneur, turned venture capitalist.  Anyone who meets her will undoubtedly notice her mix of cheerfulness and decisiveness. She lives her life in the fast lane, getting milestones accomplished, and pushing the boundaries. She slows down only during the weekend to ride her horse - a childhood passion she rekindled a decade ago - to unwind and clear her mind.

Cindy started her career at AT&T, honing her management skills, and getting exposed to new technologies. She has had a broad and distinguished career, as management consultant, CMO, CEO, founder and investor. She jokes that she worked for smaller and smaller companies until she started her own. And with flying colors she did! Cindy founded and grew several startups to successful exits (M&A and IPO).

Cindy turned to venture capital a decade ago, to try something new, and never looked back. After a successfull tenure at Outlook Ventures, Cindy founded Illuminate Ventures. She has made five investments to-date, in SaaS cloud computing startups (she loves the space).  Sixty percent of her portfolio companies have women co-founders, and are doing very well. Cindy has been named one of the most influential women in high tech, and carries her title with zeal.

In her own words: 

You are a(n):


Name companies you've founded or co-founded:

Vivant Corporation, Illuminate Ventures 

Name companies you've invested in:

BrightEdge Technologies, CalmSea, Inc., RedAril, Xactly Corporation, ClairMail, Optena, Reply, WildPockets, Digital Chocolate, Lasso Logic

Name startups you worked for:

Scopus Technology, Acumen International, Ingres, Vivant, IDE

If you are an entrepreneur, why?

It's what I am best at... So even as an investor I chose to do something unique and entrepreneurial.

List your favorite startups:

BrightEdge, CalmSea, Xactly, Red Aril 

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

Most frustrating - how long it sometimes takes to know if what you are doing will be successful or not. Most rewarding - having someone tell you about a cool company or product they recently saw... and it's one you built or invested in.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Thinking that great technology by itself wins.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1. Be willing to look reality in the eye and then decide, consciously, when to ignore it.

2. Focus, focus, focus

3. Be passionate about customer/user satisfaction.


Related companies, investors and entrepreneurs

Illuminate Ventures
Angel group/VC
Description: Illuminate Ventrues is a Micro VC focused on B2B cloud and mobile computing. Our team is made up of experienced investors with significa...
Cindy Padnos
Founder & Managing ...,
Illuminate Ventures
Bio: Cindy Padnos is founder and managing partner of Illuminate Ventures, an early stage Micro VC firm focused on cloud computing. Current in...

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