Cindy Padnos

Cindy Padnos

Cindy 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!

Oakland, California, United States
Accredited investor
Member since January 14, 2010
  • About
Investor interests
Type of investor Seed Fund Early stage VC
Typical investment size $250k - $500k $500k - $1M
Typical investments in a year 4
Categories of interest
Credentials Accredited Investor, Qualified Purchaser
University of Michigan
Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business

I am a(n):


If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?

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

My favorite startups:

BrightEdge, CalmSea, Xactly, Hoopla, Yozio, Opsmatic

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 helped build or invested in.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

Thinking that great technology "wins" by itself.

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/ feedback and satisfaction.

Full bio

Cindy Padnos is founder and managing partner of Illuminate Ventures, an early stage Micro VC firm focused on cloud computing. Current investments and board seats include BrightEdge, CalmSea, Hoopla, and Xactly. Cindy has deployed over $100 million in venture funding to help dozens of innovative start-ups reach successful outcomes including prior portfolio companies Red Aril (acquired by Hearst Corporation) and WildPockets (acquired by Autodesk).

Named one of the Most Influential Women in Technology (Fast Company) and one of the Most Influential Women in Business in the Bay Area (San Francisco Business Times), Cindy’s prior high tech career includes successful stints as a management consultant, operating executive (Scopus) and founder/CEO (Vivant).

Cindy is a member of the Board of Advisors for Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business where she received her MBA/MSIA and a graduate of the University of Michigan where she recently offered the College of Engineering commencement address.