December 13, 2023
Happiest of Holidays and peace in the coming New Year of 2024 to the membership of the IVCA. As we keep moving through the years, the VC and PE industries continue their unprecedented investment and success. Simultaneously, the IVCA continued in their mission to represent the VC/PE community and their support organizations – as we made the transition in Executive Director leadership – and updated the membership throughout the year on the website and through the biweekly newsletter and profiles.
In one more look at 2023, here are the best quotes and perspectives from those various articles, including the Richard J. Daley Awardee at the recent IVCA Awards Dinner and parting words from outgoing Executive Director Maura O’Hara …
“We think that as a women-owned fund we pay extra attention to sourcing deals from female and racially-diverse founders, and that we also have a stronger focus on diversity and inclusion. We require that all our portfolio companies make a commitment to measuring Diversity, Equity and Inclusion top to bottom in their companies when they take investment from us, and our job is to help them diversify their candidate pool when they are recruiting. We also have a strong commitment to measuring climate impact and DEI across our portfolio and publish the results in an annual report. This is important to our LPs.”
~ Amy Francetic of Buoyant Ventures, New Member Profile
“There is a sports quote that I’ve heard which I believe is also true in evaluating each other and our managers … ‘if there is doubt, there is no doubt,’ in other words there is no need for uncertainty. Secondly, in each firm there are different teams on a roll at different times. It’s about deference, if a deal team is hot, do you defer to them? Inevitably, that runs into trouble. But we want all our teams to do well, and it goes in cycles. There may be an element of overconfidence, so what becomes the right decision is part of creating governance.”
~ Paul Finnegan of Madison Dearborn Partners at the 2023 IVCA Spring Luncheon … “Establishing a Private Equity Firm: Then, Now and in the Future”
“Our approach is top down, bottom up. Networking is important, we target those on our boards who are involved in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and would know others in the space. From the bottom up we recruit from historically black colleges to our intern programs, and our last analyst class was half female. Are we perfect? No. But do we want our culture to do better? Yes. I believe the results of DEI policy lead to better outcomes for all.”
~ Justin Ishbia of Shore Capital Partners at the 2023 IVCA Spring Luncheon
“Personally I’m playing a long game with the City of Chicago so I’m less concerned about four year cycles and who is in the office. I’m focused on long-term change at the systemic level, which I campaigned on when I ran. I’ve been quietly doing that work, and I’m excited to keep that going. My only advice now is to have curiosity before judgement when it comes to every person, system or solution.”
~ Neal Sáles-Griffin Managing Director of Techstars Chicago
“It is very humbling for me to be accepting this award on behalf of Nerdio. I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years, starting with my first business venture while still in high school. In 2013 I met Bret Maxwell from MK Capital and was introduced to the world of Venture Capital. I was honored back then when MK Capital recognized the potential of what we were building and decided to partner with me.
For the past 10 years I’ve been very much ‘head down’ building the technology and the business. It is hard for me to believe the scale that we’ve been able to achieve over the past few years and the opportunity that is still ahead of us. Being recognized by the Venture Capital industry is an honor”
~ Vadim Vladimirskiy Founder and CEO of Nerdio, on the Recognition as the 2023 IVCA Venture Capital Company of the Year
“As you know, [the Prairie Capital] investment in Right At School produced a tremendous investment outcome. However, just as importantly, everyone involved in the company is proud of the social good that RAS produces … which is a direct result of the mission and culture established by Mark Rothschild.
In a time when many students are facing mental health challenges, the RAS program — grounded in social emotional learning principles — now serves almost 50,000 students. Also, the number of people employed by Right At School grew during our ownership from fewer than 500 at the date of our acquisitor to approximately 3,250 today. More kids served and more people employed. That’s success.”
~ Steve King Founding Partner of Prairie Capital, on the Investment in the 2023 IVCA Private Equity Portfolio Company of the Year
“I always start with how lucky I was to have my father as a role model, who raised my two sisters and me with the three core family values of work ethic, stewardship and social responsibility. I try to bring these values to everything I do, and believe there is no greater joy than helping others succeed.
Chicago has been wonderful to me and my family and I believe that we must do all that we can to make sure that all of our citizens have access to the same educational and other opportunities that we had. Whether it’s my work with our foundation in North Lawndale and North Chicago, Navy Pier, Rush or the Commercial Club, trying to help reduce the wealth gap is at the forefront of my thinking and how I spend my time.”
~ Jennifer Steans President and CEO of Financial Investments Corporation (FIC) and Recipient of the 2023 IVCA Richard J. Daley Award
“I firmly believe that what gets measured also gets managed and moved. As our industry has matured, firms are able to look around for ways to create more value for their investors. They have created functional expertise that can add value across a portfolio, they have brought in executives who can lead an organization, and in recognizing that diverse teams yield superior results they have actively worked to diversify their teams both within the firms and inside their portfolio companies. Change will be generational, but the effort will yield great results.
The ideas, insights and connections from [IVCA volunteers] resulted in all the programming we have and every legislative success. And finally I was fortunate to work with 16 great Chairpersons over my tenure and I learned so much from each of them. I am pleased to consider them friends today.”
~ Maura O’Hara Executive Director of the IVCA, 2003 to 2023