Today is my 43rd birthday (you can read about what I learned over the past year in my Lucky7 post about age 42). Looking back on my last year, I've grown to really love angel investing. My wife, Debra, and I run a family office that we call Hurt Family Investments. She takes the lead on philanthropic projects, and I take the lead on startup investing. For the past two years, we've invested the same financial amount in non-profits as we have in startups. We always agree on what to invest in - she has to meet the entrepreneurs before we make a decision - and that leverages the best of both of us. Debra is a contrarian thinker and was also born to entrepreneur parents. We both learned a lot about entrepreneurship growing up, and we actually started Coremetrics, my fourth business, together. She has terrific entrepreneurial instincts and there are a number of companies that I haven't started because I listened to her (thankfully), when I was playing the song "entrepreneur" on my record of life. Now, we are involved in 34 startups (mostly in Austin) and multiple VC funds that give us exposure to at least as many additional startups (you can see our portfolio here).
I've been playing a new song now (changing your song on your record of life is very difficult as I describe in this Lucky7 post on big life transitions). My new song is harder to categorize as simply as "entrepreneur"; maybe "startup catalyst" is an appropriate name. "Startup catalyst" is more of a mosaic of activities that leads up to a cumulatively big impact. I want to look back 10 years from now, when I turn 53, and know that I made a big difference to our entrepreneurial scene here in Austin. That is what drives me now and I believe it is just as worthy of a mission in life as my original goal to found a company and take it public (I set this goal when I was 25-years old, shortly after taking the plunge into entrepreneurship). Both goals were and are about impact - creating jobs, new companies (former Bazaarvoice team members have started 22 companies and counting since leaving Bazaarvoice), and karmic ripple effects (philanthropic and helping to change the world for the better both through Bazaarvoice and these new startups).
I wake up every day energized to help the 34 companies in our portfolio. Every day that I'm in Austin I meet with two to three of the entrepreneurs that we've already backed to do anything I can to help them. And I'm constantly evaluating new companies - I've seen over a thousand pitches in the last two years. This is very intellectual work - you are always context switching and learning about new industries. One hour I've got my Edgecase hat on, the next I'm wearing my OneSpot hat. Although our primary focus is SaaS (Software as a Service) investing, the business model that I've lived since 1999, the industries are varied and the challenges are unique. Every day is a mosaic of activities for me, and that is extraordinarily rewarding. I'm working my brain like never before. I read blogs, books, and all types of social media and I find that more and more of what I read relates to at least one of the companies in our portfolio. You get to put patterns together at a much broader scale than you do when you are focused on running a single company at a time, as I was with Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics before this.