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No.1 mistake: thinking that great technology by itself wins
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We are a diverse community of dreamers, builders, and trailblazers, who want to change the world, build great products/companies, and make an impact.
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.
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Joined Vator on
Illuminate Ventrues is a Micro VC focused onEnterprise/ B2B cloud and mobile computing. Our team is made up of experienced investors with significant operating and investment track records, complemented by a world-class Business Advisory Council. We invest in US-based high growth, capital efficient companies, typically as the first institutional investor. Specific areas of interest include cloud computing, SaaS applications, Big Data , enterprise mobile, IIoT. Our portfolio includes game changing business solutions from companies like Bedrock Analytics, BrifhtEdge, Influitive, Yozio, Peerlyst, ChannelEyes and LitBit. Our recent exits include companies like Xactly (IPO), Opsmatic (acquired by New Relic), Sense Platform (acquired by Cloudera) and SimOPs Studios (acquired by Autodesk).
Illuminate Ventures is different - we don't rely on "pattern recognition" or following the herd. We seek new and innovative business ideas led by committed, talented teams. We recognize that great investment opportunities come in a variety of packages - sometimes looking a bit different from the norm.
Illuminate works closely with founders to support them in building truly great companies and teams. We've been there ourselves and know that teams made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills deliver innovative thinking with outstanding results.
Joined Vator onCindy Padnos is founder/managing partner of Illuminate Ventures, an early stage VC firm focused on enterprise cloud and mobile computing. A prior founder herself, she is an entrepreneurial enthusiast!