Future Founders’ Lab: An Interview with Jeremy Tasset
Kansas City venture capital has grown significantly in the past several years. Since 1997 Nueterra Capital, a Kansas City-based venture capital firm that invests exclusively in early and growth stage healthcare companies, has continued to exemplify what it means to be a committed investor within the venture capital industry.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Nueterra Capital’s CEO, Jeremy Tasset, who is a Kansas native and University of Kansas graduate. Tasset has over 16 years of experience within the venture capital industry and shared some of his accumulated insight.
What attracted you to venture capital rather than private equity or other careers within financial services?
Similar to other things in life, his decision was not made quickly. Instead, Tasset said it was made over time and required other aspects to evolve for him to reach this point. He says when he was in the business school at KU, he wasn’t exactly sure what direction he wanted to pursue, especially since he didn’t enjoy his marketing or accounting classes. However, he knew he wanted to be in business and was interested in investments. Eventually, he enrolled in the Applied Portfolio Management Class (APM) and immediately knew he found his calling in regard to investments. Although he still didn’t know exactly what career path this class would take him on, he says he knew he liked what he was learning.
After college, Tasset worked for a few years as a financial advisor. Although it was an enjoyable experience, he says he didn’t feel that his calling was in that industry. After he left that position, he got an opportunity with a new private equity fund based in Kansas City. This fund, he says, gave him exposure to private markets and he enjoyed the process of launching a fund as well as all the working components that go into a fund. After business and life took its natural turns, he was presented with the opportunity to get into venture capital.
How would you describe the venture capital environment in Kansas City?
“Evolving.” Tasset used this word because he says when his team started their fund 10 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of competition in Kansas City for early stage investments, especially in healthcare.
However, now there are more investors focused on early stage investments and the number of funds are increasing. “There are a lot of talented entrepreneurs in Kansas City and there are a lot of good businesses being built here,” says Tasset. “I think we’ve got the makings of a really good ecosystem, we just have to keep it going. The more good companies that can be founded and successfully exit from Kansas City, the more we will see capital find Kansas City. That’s what we’re trying to focus on and we’re doing our part to support and invest in as many local companies as we can.”
How is Nueterra Capital evolving?
Nueterra Capital wants to expand its investment focus. Tasset says they’ve been predominantly focused on healthcare over the last 10 years, but they’re slowly starting to explore other industries. For example, they made a few FinTech and PropTech investments this year and are also looking at B2B and ecommerce companies. Tasset says they know the healthcare industry inside and out, but for them to be successful in the long term, they need to expand their investment focus. To begin that shift, they will gradually look to build teams in different industries.
What advice do you have for a new entrepreneur or for someone who wants to enter venture capital?
Tasset recommends that new entrepreneurs or those interested in venture capital work for a business at some point in their career before entering the space. Although the company size doesn’t matter, he says he prefers individuals work for a smaller company, which grants them the opportunity to wear numerous hats. This is beneficial because he says it’s important that you know what happens in the accounting, marketing, and sales departments. Additionally, Tasset says to be able to experience the ups and downs of running a small business can pay large dividends for venture capital investors because they are able to sit at the same table as an entrepreneur and say they know what it’s like to be in their shoes.
What books, blogs, or podcasts do you recommend people who are interested in being an entrepreneur or venture capital read or listen to?
- AVC — This blog is from venture capital investor Fred Wilson, who is a partner at Union Square Ventures in New York. In it, Wilson discusses everything regarding venture capital and entrepreneurship, and he has a segment called MBA Monday.
- Tasset also recommends that those interested in the industry should read everything, and especially subscribe to PitchBook and CrunchBase for daily industry updates. He says he reads every story, article, and blog post that he can get his hands on, which especially helps when trying to stay up-to-date in this rapidly evolving business.