The first time I met Austin, TenOneTen was just getting rolling. We were evaluating a tremendous number of deals, putting systems in place within the firm, and working with the companies we’d invested in. We weren’t sure exactly how an associate would help us, but we knew the right person could be invaluable.
“Why do you want to be a VC?” I asked him.
“I’ve always wanted to be a VC,” he replied. “If I don’t take this job, I’m going to start my own fund.”
It was a pretty bold statement from a would-be associate, but Austin said it without bluster or boast. He knew he wanted to be part of a fund in Los Angeles, investing in companies and communities where he could see overlooked opportunities. He had a vision.
From day one, he threw himself into everything. He helped source companies, write deal memos, brainstorm about marketing, and got himself out into the community. As time went on, Austin became more engaged with portfolio companies: attending board meetings, spending hours at their offices, meeting with founders, and doing all he could to help them with any and every challenge that came up.
It didn’t take us long to realize we’d gotten really lucky.
A year or so ago I was speaking with Joe Fernandez, the CEO of Joymode. Joe is the kind of founder who has held every role in his company, including customer deliveries. He said that of all his VCs, Austin was the one he would call if his truck broke down in the middle of the night. I was elated. Austin can’t actually fix trucks, but he had built the kind of founder relationship with Joe that we strive for with every entrepreneur that we meet (whether or not we make an investment). And it’s not just founders who appreciate Austin, we hear it all the time, from everyone in the community. He has become an important face of the fund.
Despite his laid-back demeanor, Austin takes being a great investor very seriously. He’s committed to learning everything about the industries we invest in, about the craft of venture capital, and what it takes to build a great company. He faces every day with curiosity and rigor, and deals with success and challenge even-handedly. His empathy for founders and his optimism for the future energize the office, while his thoughtful and pragmatic approach make him an ideal sounding board and debating partner. It is indisputable that Austin is woven into the fabric of our fund. We wouldn’t be the same firm without him.
It therefore gives me great pleasure and pride to announce that Austin has been promoted to Principal. Expect him to act with even more autonomy, to take board seats, and to continue to kick ass with his enormous feet* on behalf on TenOneTen.
*No, really, they’re gigantic.