Friday, May 13, 2016

NVCA Taps Menlo Ventures' Venky Ganesan as Chairman

NVCA Taps Menlo Ventures' Venky Ganesan as Chairman Patience Haggin May 6, 2016 7:30 a.m. ET

Venture capital isn't just about the coasts anymore, if Venky Ganesan has any say.

Mr. Ganesan, managing director of Menlo Ventures, was named chair of the National Venture Capital Association board of directors Thursday. He said that highlighting venture capital communities outside of its well-known centers in New York, Boston and the Bay Area would be his first priority.

"When people realize that those great talents are available all over America, in places where you can get a lower valuation, then capital will flow," Mr. Ganesan said.

The NVCA's annual gala put a spotlight on Chicago's venture community. J.B. Pritzker, founder and managing partner of Chicago-based venture capital firm Pritzker Group Venture Capital, said the "entry price" for funding a Chicago startup is quite a bit lower than startups in more expensive areas, such as New York City or the San Francisco Bay Area.

"Being inside your own echo chamber is very dangerous," said Rishi Shah, the founder and CEO of ContextMedia, a Chicago-based patient-education health care company, at the National Venture Capital Association's annual Leadership Gala & Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. "Being in Chicago, being surrounded by so many diverse industries, really makes you understand how those industries work."

Jai Shekhawat, the founder of Fieldglass, a provider of service procurement and workforce management software, said the company's Chicago location was not a disadvantage. He said enterprise customers regularly send representatives to visit Fieldglass's Chicago headquarters before making a purchase.

"If you're selling a low-price-point software, you can fly to the customer. If you're selling a very high price-point software, the customer will want to come see you at some point," said Mr. Shekhawat.

Mr. Ganesan said his second priority was making venture capital more inclusive. "I think that too often it feels like you have to have gone to one of 14 schools, and live within a certain zip code, to get access to venture capital."

Mr. Ganesan replaces Jon Callaghan, founder and general partner at True Ventures. Andreessen Horowitz partner Scott Kupor has been named chair-elect for the 2017-2018 year.

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