After graduating from college, I began my career in a multibillion dollar global company, going to work every day from 8am – 6pm, sitting in my stereotypical cubicle; I thought this was what being a professional adult was all about. However, my view on what a career could be began to shift after, of all things, I joined the company softball team. We had a practice before the season started, and two guys rolled up in a black SUV with a roof rack full of surfboards, which matched the same roof rack I had for my surfboard, although I had done very little surfing since moving to Los Angeles from Chicago. This sparked an initial conversation about my desire to learn to surf, and would eventually lead to my partnership with LDR Ventures.
We started surfing once a week together and between waves these guys began telling me about their experiences mentoring entrepreneurs at local LA entrepreneurship accelerators. Occasionally I would add something from my own point of view, and be surprised that they found it interesting or worthwhile. I soon realized I wasn’t very much interested in the work I was doing Monday through Friday, but I couldn’t wait to get in the water and talk about the passionate entrepreneurs my friends were meeting each week. This inspired me to leave the large corporate job and join an earlier stage company, then a startup, and eventually join these surfers in our own VC firm.
The same passion that I began feeling for surfing and for building businesses is what we search for in aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investment and mentorship. When evaluating opportunities, we aren’t looking necessarily to invest in the best presentation, the best business plan, or the most disruptive idea; above all, we are looking to invest in the entrepreneur. We look to mentor highly driven, hard working and self aware people from diverse backgrounds with diverse businesses, and apply our knowledge and operational expertise to help their companies scale and achieve profitability. An active which many investment firms do not provide.
We don’t have the fanciest degrees, we’re not on the cover of financial magazines, and we don’t come from investment banking. But we do have a proven track record of success, an amazing network spanning several industries, and an investment approach that is hands on, helping entrepreneurs learn and grow their business in a sustainable way. What sets us apart from many investors that exist today, typically in Silicon Valley, is our investment scope as most focus on tech, a passion for helping others succeed from all walks of life and a demonstrated willingness to get our hands dirty to help them do so.
Jim Scharpf is a Venture Partner at LDR Ventures in Los Angeles
Contact him at [email protected]