Introducing the Rising Stars of the 2015 NVCA Venturescape Office Hours Cohort

This year, I am proud to serve as Chair of Office Hours, a three year old National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) program designed to give entrepreneurs from around the country greater exposure to venture capitalists.

Office Hours will be held at our annual meeting — Venturescape — on May 6th in San Francisco at the Palace Hotel. Truly impressive entrepreneurs from 15 states across 10 industries have been selected to participate in an afternoon of interactive workshops and mixers focused on raising capital on favorable terms, building lasting businesses that matter, and policy discussions that impact their business.

We are inviting these entrepreneurs to our entire two-day event, and American Airlines is sponsoring their airfare, because we know that what we investors do doesn’t matter in the end unless we can help great entrepreneurs build great businesses.

American Airlines, along with the IBM Global Entrepreneur program, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center, Business France, Springboard, Launch Tennessee and Ann Arbor SPARK get this and are joining our efforts to support entrepreneurship too.

At NVCA, we are focused on building, fostering, and encouraging the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, not just hosting an “inside the tent” meeting focused on VCs for VCs. That’s why Venturescape will convene more than 700 business and political leaders, limited partners, regional venture capital associations, entrepreneurs, service providers, universities and members of the media.

And did I mention Jennifer Lopez? Who stands in a category of her own? Admit it. Just like mine, I am sure that your workout playlists include a heavy dose of J. Lo music. Jennifer Lopez is a world-renowned entertainer, an American Idol judge, and one of the star voices in the new Dreamworks movie Home, (which I am worried might make all of my daughter’s Frozen toys obsolete.)

How did this talented entrepreneur shatter the glass ceiling? As a female businesswoman with a Puerto Rican heritage, she’ll share a unique perspective that brings both culture and dimension to the topic of diversity in venture — a topic that the NVCA is working to solve — Tuesday morning, before Office Hours begins.

Roger Altman, the former Deputy Treasury Secretary, kicks off Venturescape with the opening keynote where he’ll examine the interaction between the economy and the public sector, and will talk about the steps the federal government should take to encourage entrepreneurship across the nation. The Libertarian in me cries out to the Feds to just leave our entrepreneurial ecosystem alone — I argue we can take care of ourselves.

Regardless of how you may feel about the intersection of politics and policy with entrepreneurship, every founder and investor should understand what our government is up to. We see part of our job at the NVCA as helping our elected officials do smart things to nurture and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem (like passing the JOBS Act.) Of course we also play defense when special interests try to push legislation that could make it harder for entrepreneurs to start and build successful businesses.

I’ll host a workshop to open up Office Hours at 2:45pm on May 6. Part panel discussion, part classroom experience, Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC), Nina Kjellson (InterWest Partners), Jim Scheinman (Maven Ventures), Wendy Lung (IBM Venture Capital Group), and Hamet Watt (Upfront Ventures) will join me to answer the biggest questions the 2015 cohort has about pitching their idea to VCs, valuing their business, and working with investors after the money is raised. The second workshop will be led by an incredible group of CEOs including Marcela Sapone of Alfred Club, Nick Weaver of Eero and Michelle Zatlyn of CloudFlare.

Entrepreneurs selected to Office Hours have a lot of important decisions to make and my goal is to give them a forum to think those through.

• What are your plans to raise outside capital?

• Is a seed or traditional venture investor your best bet?

• When should you go for corporate venture capital?

• What kind of traction do you really have?

• How much control might you honestly give up?

• What existing or emerging regulations might impact your business?

• What new oversight and scrutiny are you ready to share?

Entrepreneurs from across the country submitted their applications to join the 2015 cohort and it is an honor to announce some of the rising stars from the incoming class:


Genomic Expression

TEP Digital

HT Mobile Apps



Jarvis Legal


Arbor Insight Trailblaze Growth Advisors

MomForce Network

AdAdapted, Inc.




Davis Thorpe Company

General Graphene



Mountain Labs

Oasys Ventures Inc.

PactSafe, Inc,

Uvize, Inc.

Refrants, Inc

Long Term Care Management Systems

Congratulations and I look forward to meeting you there.

John Backus is an Early Stage VC at New Atlantic Ventures (@navfund). Focus on disruptive businesses: e-commerce, security, education, health care.

John Backus is an Early Stage VC at New Atlantic Ventures (@navfund). Focus on disruptive businesses: e-commerce, security, education, health care.