On this episode, Elio interviews Paul Ehlinger, Principal at Allos Ventures. Allos Ventures invests in industry-transforming businesses and partners with visionary entrepreneurs to help their companies accelerate growth and build value. Paul’s career started as a medical device engineer in Southern California and he ultimately transitioned from the corporate world to the world of venture capital as an Investment Manager at the Kentucky Enterprise Fund where he invested in pre-seed and seed-stage companies. Paul joined Allos Ventures in December 2019 to continue creating opportunities for early-stage companies. Allos recently invested in Columbus-based startup getHEALTH led by Nick Potts.
Paul is also the Managing Partner at Sixty8 Capital, a venture fund for black, brown, women and LBGTQ+ led startups.
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[00:34] 614Startups Nation, welcome to another episode of the 614Startups podcast. I’m here with my very special guest, Mr. Paul Ehlinger of Allos Ventures. What’s up, Paul?
Paul: [00:44] Not too much. How you doing?
Elio: [00:46] All right. I was concerned about the Ehlinger and I was concerned about the Allos. Dis I get both of those right?
Paul: [00:52] You went 0 for two. Ehlinger and Allos.
Elio: [00:55] Ehlinger and Allos?
Paul: [00:57] That’s correct. Yep.
Elio: [00:58] All right. Well, we got it now and the people have it, right. So I’m glad that I verified that. You were probably going to let me go the rest of the podcast knowing I was 0 for two.
Paul: [01:05] I was going to let you do your thing, you know, bring it up naturally. It would have worked itself out.
Elio: [01:10] Okay, that’s cool, man. Well, I’m getting a lot of kind of that Midwest humility there. So let’s get into it, man, because I figure your probably a Midwest kid, but where are you from? And how did you come to be in this whole world of VC?
Paul: [01:22] Yeah. So I actually grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. So very good call, definitely in the heart of the Midwest there. But started my career actually in the medical device field out in Southern California as an engineer. So I got a couple degrees in that, started working with Medtronic, so big global company. Got tired of corporate life like I think a lot of people in the startup ecosystem do and helped start up a company called Wallaby Medical. So we were a startup, built an implantable device to treat brain aneurysms, took that through, got FDA approval CE mark status. And after that, moved back to the Midwest. So my then girlfriend, now wife was doing her PhD in Kentucky, so came back to the humility roots, I guess, and that’s when I got into venture capital. There was an opening with the Kentucky Enterprise Fund, which is the state of Kentucky’s early venture fund. And so joined that, ended up managing that fund, and then joined Allos about a year ago. And so that’s kind of the history there.
Elio: [02:13] That’s cool, man. And so I was reading on your website, your bio, you said you’ve lived in 10 cities or however many cities. Why did you move so much? I know you’re moving for opportunity. What was the whole 10 city, city-hopping thing there?
Paul: [02:27] Yeah, I think the cities have been Kansas City, Columbia, Missouri, Riverside, California, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and then Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. And so originally to Lexington to move in there, then my wife, her career kind of took us to Louisville. And then my career took me up to Indianapolis and now we’re both over in Cincinnati again. She works at the VA hospital here in town. And so really it was kind of joining Allos and then my job being fairly flexible enough to kind of move around what worked out with her. Just been all over the place. Yeah.
Elio: [03:01] All right. So without getting you in trouble with any city or any group of friends, what was your favorite city to live in?
Paul: [03:08] I mean, two of them, I guess Newport Beach on one end just because of obviously living on the beach is fantastic. But I’ve been loving Cincinnati. It’s been pretty fantastic so far. We’ve been here since this summer, and even through COVID, it’s a great city to live in, good people, good food, good times. I can’t complain about it.
Elio: [03:25] Cincinnati is a great city. My college roommate, my buddy is down there in Cincinnati. I don’t get down as often as I need to but I know it’s a great city. And I’m glad to kind of be expanding 614Startups beyond Columbus. Hopefully, when COVID recedes– We’re recording this November 2020 for posterity. Hopefully, COVID kind of recedes and I’m able to get down more often to Cincinnati, maybe we can do coffee in person like the olden days, right?
Paul: [03:51] Yeah, I look forward to it. I was actually just up in Columbus about two weeks ago with one of our companies up there. So I need to get up there more often myself.
Elio: [03:59] Columbus with one of your companies up there. We’re going to get to that, man because hopefully, it’s the company I’m thinking about because that would be new news, breaking news, hopefully breaking news on this podcast. And I think a lot of people take for granted that in terms of institutional investors, states, Universities are looking for opportunities to grow. And so what was your experience like working in a state fund? And give us some insight into how government institutions, governments think about investing and growing their money.
Paul: [04:31] Yeah, so it was a really unique situation. So in Kentucky, the way it works is that the government had some money that they wanted to invest. They dropped it down into a nonprofit entity and that’s actually the fund. So the fund was a nonprofit vehicle that then invested into the private companies and startups. And so there are several models like that, right. I think Elevate Ventures over in Indiana has a very similar model. There’s one over in Missouri that does the same thing. But I think what governments are realizing is that entrepreneurship and startups are like a huge part of economic development, right? A startup that’s growing fast adds tons of jobs quicker than standard industry jobs. And they add really high paying jobs, right? And so when you look at what happens when a company like Root Insurance up in Ohio starts growing or ScriptDrop, they start growing, they just hire, hire, hire, and in turn that works out really great for those governments. And so I think they’ve come to learn that it’s a really solid investment vehicle to spur just internal economic growth.
Elio: [05:26] Is there kind of a risk aversion because you know politicians, right? And kind of like, “Well, you can’t lose the whole fund.” I mean, you got to bet strategically, right? And so, did you have to deal with impatient money kind of on the state side? Did you have to deal with, kind of like, “Hey, that’s a little too risky, not on my watch” kind of deal? What were some of the pros of working in a fund like that, and some of the things that you didn’t quite anticipate that you kind of ran into?
Paul: [05:52] Yeah, so some of the pros I would honestly say is, it’s not fully return driven, right. And so there’s the ideology of, we need to be putting this money out there just to spur the ecosystem, and spur the development of this. And so that’s one pro. And I think our money was fairly patient. And so in the sense that it’s funded by the government, we weren’t having to go out every three years to raise a new fund. We’re essentially a budget and coming down, which gave us the ability to not need to push a company to exit in five years to make our money back and then to do that, right, so as an evergreen model. On the con side, I think we were always fighting to stay relevant. And so within government, especially as administrations go back and forth, you always have to be making your argument that, “Hey, we need to keep doing this. We need to keep doing this.” And so some of that effort was difficult, I would say. And then yeah, to your point, some of the earlier stage stuff that I invested in, I definitely got a few more questions just because it was two people with an idea, and not the most easy thing to get through a government approval process.
Elio: [06:52] Yeah, I could imagine running something similar in Pennsylvania, and then trying to invest in a technology that would make coal obsolete, I’m guessing that that’s not going to happen, right? Doesn’t matter what the returns would be, you would have some constraints in a state like that, not to throw Pennsylvania under the bus. We love you guys.
[07:10] Thank you for listening. We’re going to take a quick break and be right back after this message from our sponsor.
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[07:43] Let’s transition now. So you’re working in Kentucky.
Paul: [07:46] Yep.
Elio: [07:46] And then do you get the call? Do you make the call? How does this happen with Allos Ventures?
Paul: [07:54] Yeah, you got it. You nailed it.
Elio: [07:55] I got it. All right. Allos Ventures, how does that happen?
Paul: [07:58] Yeah, so honestly, it was he was kind of me approaching them. I know they had been looking for someone to come in and join them for like the last two years. So they had closed a fund at the end of 2019 and they were looking for the entire year before that to bring someone on. At that point, I had started managing the fund kind of solo down in Kentucky and it was ready to move to the private industry, kind of to the cons that we were speaking of. I didn’t want to necessarily deal with those for the rest of time. And so I came across Allos; I’ve heard some really good things about them. They were invested in a couple of our Kentucky Enterprise Fund portfolio companies actually as follow on investors. And so I just kind of did the all-out blitz, kind of like the entrepreneurial mindset. I got an introduction into every single one of the partners about, so that they just couldn’t ignore me, and ended up joining on from there as a quick process. I met two of the people here in Cincinnati, and then they called me right after the meeting and said, “Hey, can you meet us in Indianapolis in two days?” And so then we drove up to Indianapolis, and then they offered me a job two days after that. It was a kind of a wee- long process though.
Elio: [08:59] Two desperate people make a deal happen really, really fast, right?
Paul: [09:05] Yeah. I like to think they didn’t want me to go somewhere else.
Elio: [09:09] Yeah. Okay. Well, we’ll take that approach. Okay. So good they couldn’t ignore you, man. I know. I know.
Paul: [09:16] That’s what I tell myself.
Elio: [09:17] Your resume, your reputation preceded you, once they saw it was you, they couldn’t help but extend the offer letter. I get it. All right. So what was it though, about the way they approach venture that made it make sense for you? Hey, this is a company I would want to work for.
Paul: [09:37] Yeah. So a couple things. First of all, when I was doing my diligence on them, going through the process, and I talked to a bunch of their portfolio company CEOs and talked to some of their co-investors, and they were very much so about people. And it’s literally painted on our wall in Indianapolis like, “We’re about people.” But all of their portfolio company CEOs really loved them, loved working with them. They were oftentimes the first call. So an entrepreneur has a problem, they have got a stack of investors, they call Allos first because just they’re good guys who are always there doing the right thing. So it was a big thing for me. I don’t like working with people who I’m not kind of like, morally aligned with. It doesn’t feel good to work with them. Outside of that, it’s a small team. So there are three partners, a CFO kind of running it. And I came in, and they gave me the ability to have some more impact on direction and to have a bigger voice at the table. And I really like working in that small environment. Yeah, I guess the startup gene in me, I guess, but just not a big fan of a lot of structure, I would say.
Elio: [10:34] Okay, so they’re all about people, that’s fair. And they got some dough to deploy, right?
Paul: [10:40] They had fresh money to deploy, right.
Elio: [10:42] That’s right.
Paul: [10:42] And so that was really appealing to me as well, yes.
Elio: [10:45] You were going to get a little bit of money to actually manage, right? That’s part of the appeal. All right, let’s talk investment thesis. What’s the investment thesis there? And then how are you approaching it if you’re industry-specific, if your market-specific? How do you guys view kind of the startup landscape because you focus on the Midwest and the companies that you invest in?
Paul: [11:05] Yeah, so we invest at the Series Seed and the Series A. We invest in what we kind of call the greater Midwest, right? It’s kind of the swath from Colorado to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, down to Tennessee. Ideology being there, you know, kind of a lot of the stuff everyone knows about this region, right? A lot of great talent, a lot of great universities, closeness to customers, right? Ton of Fortune 500s out here. And then just a bunch of up and rising ecosystems. I think if you look at where Columbus or Indianapolis or Cincinnati were 10, 15 years ago, they’re in totally different places today and it’s super exciting. You cover it all the time with your podcast. And so we focus on that region at those stages and we’re fairly industry agnostic. So we look for B2B Enterprise SaaS companies, sometimes tech-enabled Services. We generally keep it fairly general with what we’re doing. We do a bit of internally, we’ll build some industry theses and then proactively go out and look for those types of companies. But outside of that, we look at a whole variety of things.
Elio: [12:01] Okay, a whole variety of companies. So now, you guys had a solid footprint in Indianapolis. Did they banish you to Cincinnati? Like, they say, “We’re opening a new frontier. We don’t know what’s going to happen, so you take this money, go out to Cincinnati and see what you can do”? Why the second location?
Paul: [12:19] Yeah, man, not at all. So the two founding partners of Allos are John McIlwraith and Don Aquilano. Don’s been based in Indie for the last, I don’t know, 15, 20 years. And then same thing with John here in Cincinnati. And so I was the one who really pushed the move. Again, my wife got a job at the VA hospital here. So she’s a psychologist and so she started working here and I was like, “Hey, guys, I’m going to move to Cincinnati now” and they were very cool with it. But I think it’s also just getting that coverage, right? I think we view Ohio as an awesome market to invest in and so having more of us here to be able to get up into Cleveland and Columbus and then Dayton was a big factor as well.
Elio: [12:58] Okay, so let’s get in your thinking on a day to day basis. You wake up in the morning, what does your day look like? What are some things that are top of mind for you? And what do you count as a successful day?
Paul: [13:10] Yeah, so I think it’s one of the harder things for me getting into venture capital is like, “What does make a successful day?” because when you’re in a startup, you kind of have like, milestones you’re building to and you’re constantly working on a product, or you’re building this or that. And so in venture, I’d say, it’s a little more esoteric almost, in the sense of, maybe I don’t functionally get anything done today in the sense of like, a product developed, but I had 10 conversations with people or something like that. And so my day to day ranges from just talking to new potential deals, a lot of networking with co-investors or follow on investors or people that come before us. And then where I can, adding value to our portfolio and doing research for them or putting in any value there. So it changes every day but to me, it’s just moving our main goals forward 1% at a time. Can I find a new deal? Can I find a new investor? Can I do this or that? So to me, that’s kind of what I try to do every day, it’s just 1% more.
Elio: [14:08] Yeah. And I do understand where you’re coming from in that it must be very difficult that you can’t measure– It must be cumulative. It’s not any one day is considered a success. It’s kind of you’re building on each and every day and then you get that break, right?
Paul: [14:24] Yeah, completely. The feedback cycles in venture capital are just extremely long, like frustratingly so – the length of a portfolio, the time it takes for an investment to come through. And so to me, it’s just like, every day, I want to know that I’ve made a better connection here or I’ve added value there, I’ve added value there. And then you kind of look up and a month later, you’re like, “Oh, wow, I met with 200 companies this month”, or stuff like that. And so definitely cumulative in the long run.
Elio: [14:50] So you’re definitely not bragging. You met with 200 companies. I know your deal flow is crazy, the pipeline is like a fire hose. How are you getting all these conversations going? How are you getting this pipeline?
Paul: [15:01] Fairly multi-channel, right? So I do a fair amount of outbound. So generally, whenever a company gets a level of investment that would be before us, right? They might raise some angel money or some pre-seed money or go through an accelerator. I just kind of have some alerts set up to automatically email out those people and go meet them. Outside of that, when we develop theses in certain areas, we kind of just make a market map of companies we want to find, and we go talk to them but then we also get a ton of inbound, right. And so a venture is very relationship-based, I would say. And so we’ve got pretty large networks that kind of bring us stuff when we’re ready to look at it or introduce us to people. And then just standard inbound. I get a ton of just random emails that are always interesting and fun to reply to.
Elio: [15:44] So how do you avoid getting jaded? If I talk to like 200 people a month– Like I do a podcast, four people a month, it’s weekly. I’ll be super excited when we can get this to a full-time gig and I’m doing this daily, but you’re talking to, you used the number 200. It doesn’t have to be 200 on the dot. It could be 12o one month or 300 the other, whatever, you’re somewhere in that range. How do you keep like, just sharp, and all about it? How do you not get jaded talking to that many people pitching you actually?
Paul: [16:20] Yeah, I think for me, it’s one of the reasons I got into venture capital and into finance and stuff. Being on the engineering side I didn’t get to talk to people that often and so just the opportunity to talk to people is always great. I always just try to make it like, I want to pull something out of it every single time, right? And so I may know five minutes in like, oh, you’re just not a fit for our thesis, nothing against you or your company. But everyone who starts a company is an expert at some very small niche thing, right? And so just always trying to take something out of a conversation. So that’s what does it for me, it’s like, I’ve never thought about that specific problem or really dug into that industry and so just trying to do that. And definitely can be difficult sometimes if you wake up and you’re just not having a great day, but I think that’s why I always push myself just to optimize where I can.
Elio: [17:04] Yeah, man. And I know VCs have to do this well, right? You never really say no because you never know who you’re saying no to. This might not be the business, but they might strike it big with the next business. How do you balance that out? Because I think in a lot of ways, first-time founders, and for most of us in the Midwest, we’re pretty green. This is kind of our first time going through it and we’re going to talk to Paul, and he’s this principal, and he has money to invest so I really have to impress him. And then you say, “Hey, man, great, and let’s keep in touch”, the classic, “let’s keep in touch”. And somehow that’s interpreted as, “Oh, I don’t have a great idea. This is not something I need to pursue.” How do you balance retaining that relationship long term while making sure the entrepreneur feels heard whether or not you’re going to invest?
Paul: [17:58] Yeah, I think it’s definitely difficult and it’s something I think I can always be better at and I always try to be better at. I think for me, I always explain it as like, this is a very temporal business. A no today is not a no tomorrow is not a no the day after that. So that’s one aspect of it. The other thing is, I always just try to add value when I can. So if I know I’m not a fit for them– Because that’s the other thing, I want to be a good fit for your company. And I just may not be because we just don’t have expertise there, or just not our stage or anything like that. But trying to add value right afterwards. So it’s like, who can I connect you to? “Hey, you’re too early for us but I’ve got these 10 early seed investors that I can connect you to.” And then for me, I just try to be fairly proactive about staying in touch. So I try to like once a quarter, reach out to people and say, “Hey, I’d love to catch up, hear how the business is going.” And it’s definitely difficult just because of the quantity we talk to, but to me, that’s just trying to add a little value where I can, and then always be open to conversations moving forward.
Elio: [18:51] That’s awesome, man.
[18:52] We’re going to take a quick break and be right back after this message from our sponsor.
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[19:40] So let’s talk about portfolio. All right, so you’ve been there since December of 2019. I know you’ve made some big kind of unicorn exits already in one year. You know what I mean? That’s how prolific you are. What are some investments that you’ve made so far that you’re excited about, portfolio companies that you’re working with that you can talk about on this show?
Paul: [20:00] Yeah. So I think the one you were referencing just now is that the latest investment we did was in giftHEALTH with Nick Potts up there in Columbus. So that’s one we’re obviously very excited about. We’ve got a couple companies over in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Maven Machines and Rimsys that are both doing really well as well. And so very excited about those. But yeah, Nick is very recent. He’s our most recent one. And he’s a great guy, so excited for him and that company as well.
Elio: [20:26] Yeah, man, when I saw that– And Nick is kind of a prolific media personality too. Have you seen him doing his media thing with his newsletter on LinkedIn? I’m like, “Okay, Nick, I see you during the media thing.” But when he announced that you guys were on board, and in Mucker Capital as well, he’s building quite a team over there. And then I see that Amazon Pharmacy launches so I got to get Nick back on the show to talk about the whole pharmacy world and threats and opportunities and things like that. So that’s an extended conversation. But let’s take, for example, giftHEALTH. Some people say, “Hey, at this stage in the game, we’re really investing in the founder” and I can understand why. Nick, great guy, but also, we all know the history of what he was building as well. And then you look at the idea, maybe you look at the market, and then you look at the approach to solving the problem. Of those three things that I kind of laid out, what was it for you that really pushed you over the edge with the giftHEALTH investment, to give us some framework for your decision-making process or for your team’s decision-making process?
Paul: [21:36] Yeah, I think you’re spot on with like at that stage, those are the things we look for. It’s the team, it’s the market, and are they solving a real problem, right? Are they going after a real problem? Are they going after it in a big way? So for us, we had gotten to know Nick in his time with ScriptDrop and so we dive deep into that market and understood that. And then, kind of following everything that happened there, I had just been staying in touch with Nick, and saying, “Hey, man, how you doing? How are you keeping up? What can I do for you?” type thing. And it was then he was just like, “Hey, I’m about to start this new thing. Do you want to know about it?” And I was like, “Hell yeah, I want to hear about this.” And so for us, it was really, you know, the pharmacy space and the prescription drug space in America is just, man it’s ancient. It’s antiquated. It needs to be disrupted. It needs to be value-based and good for the consumer. And I think Nick really shares that vision and has big visions to do that. So that was one big thing but yeah, primarily teams. I think Nick is a brilliant guy. I think his personality is fantastic. He’s a grinder, he’s a hustler and he’s just always building something every day. And so those are the two things that have really pushed us towards that one.
Elio: [22:43] Yeah. And I think it’s a little bit of an obsession, right? So he’s like, he’s taking a second bat at this thing. It’s not that he was just kind of into it, he’s proving that he’s completely committed to it. And that level of commitment, I’m sure is something that you guys look for in the founder as well, right, that passion for the problem as well. It’s not just the resume. It’s not just the problem, the market, but hey, are you going to give it all? Are you going to put it all on the line to really see this thing through?
Paul: [23:12] Startups are really hard, right? And they take a lot of time and a lot of energy, and they knock you down constantly. And so yeah, absolutely, we want someone who’s very passionate about the industry and passionate about the problem so that they’re there for the long haul and they can persevere. Because a lot of the times when you’re feeling down, all you have left is passion to kind of get you there the next day. So I think Nick is a great example of that and he definitely is a hustler with it.
Elio: [23:38] Yeah. Now, Nick, this is not about you, man. Don’t let this go to your head, okay? Stay humble, right? Well, this is the Midwest. All right. You talk about industries that are ripe for disruption, including the pharmacy world, but is the venture capital world ripe for disruption? One of the things I love about what you guys are doing is with Sixty8 Capital. And I want you to talk about that, and how you’re thinking about the future of venture and the future face of the startup world.
Paul: [24:11] Yeah, no, I completely agree. I think venture capital is always ready for disruption. It’s no different than any other industry. And I think specifically in the Midwest, right? I think historically, Midwest investors didn’t necessarily have a ton of competition. There weren’t a ton of firms out here and so they didn’t necessarily have to be proactive and progressive in their thinking. And then all of a sudden, you know – you had Molly on your podcast – Drive comes out here and they kind of changed the game a bit and I think you’re starting to see that more and more. And one of the main things that I saw when I got into venture capital, building to your point about Sixty8, was just that every single person I went into a boardroom with was like a 55-year-old white guy. And it was just such a weird experience. So my wife is Nicaraguan, the company I had helped start in California, I was one of two white guys on the team. Just always had a very diverse experience and then kind of having that night and day experience joining into venture capital out here. And so that was kind of the thing we saw, and that was the opportunity we saw is that in the Midwest, especially, there’s not a lot of diverse VCs, and there’s not a lot of diverse early stage entrepreneurs getting opportunities and getting funding. And so we thought, “Hey, we need to shake this up a bit. Let’s raise some capital and try to deploy some at the pre-seed and seed stage into these diverse founders and just give them a chance to build and do the thing.”
Elio: [25:27] Now, since you have kind of two approaches, they’re not mutually exclusive. Just because there’s this fund over here doesn’t mean that you can’t access the whole, kind of your entire fund structure, right.
Paul: [25:42] I think we’re really looking at it as like they’re totally mutually beneficial to each other. That in a sense of like, that will inherently drive more deal flow to Allos, Allos can follow on to companies that do well there. But then it also just opens up channels. I think one of the things about it, and kind of the way we frame it is like, if I’m a young Hispanic female from not a great part of town, I have zero connection in this industry, right? And so with us having Sixty8, it’s kind of like an outward, like, “Hey, we’re open for business. We want to talk to everybody.” And so it’s a little bit of just putting it out there like, “Hey, yeah, we’re trying to do this. We want to build a diverse pipeline and invest in diverse companies.” And so I think it’s a little bit of just being cognizant and forward-thinking with it.
Elio: [26:24] And, I think, unfortunately, it’s still new, in terms of dedicated funds for that purpose. I think what I hope is that over time, what we know to be true about founders from diverse backgrounds solving problems, is that the types of problems and the way in which those problems are addressed, that’s what I’m most interested in. All of these companies that are now being funded are taking different approaches to solving the problem. But I know, it’s also a volume thing that I’m noticing, right, getting more people through the doors and preventing people from disqualifying themselves.
Paul: [27:07] A hundred percent, yeah.
Elio: [27:09] And that’s what I love about Sixty8 Capital as I was doing some research. It’s like early, early, early, you could never be too early. You need to get in touch so that you can begin the process if you’re at all interested in starting a startup.
Paul: [27:23] Yeah. To me, it’s just in kind of every phase in the startup ecosystem, on the finance end, on the startup side, it’s get an early no, right? Because the early no is like a learning process step. It’s like, “Okay, well it’s a no now. What do I need to do to turn that into a yes?” kind of to the conversation we had earlier, right? And so I think that’s totally a part of the thing. And I think, yeah, it’s just we want to be there early because we can have some influence, we can get them into the network, we can get them resources and turn more of those no’s into yeses.
Elio: [27:48] Yeah. So thinking about Allos, thinking about Sixty8 Capital, and kind of the goal through the end of 2020 and then looking at 2021, not just from deal flow coming in your doors, but really thinking purposefully of how you’re going to deploy your capital, are there certain ideas, certain markets, that you guys are looking specifically at and looking for founders solving problems in those markets?
Paul: [28:19] Yeah. So all of the above. We’re always looking at everywhere we can. I think I’ve got personal interest in kind of mental health, aging tech. And then on the media side, podcasting. I think podcasting is a humongously growing industry that needs to be supported. Actually, the very first investment I ever made was in a podcasting company, called Podchaser down in Louisville, Kentucky. And so I think those are three I highlight in the sense of, they’re very based on my own personal experiences. My wife is a psychologist, so I see a lot of just everyday psychology and it’s like, “Man, that is an old, antiquated industry”, right? Aging tech, so down in Louisville, there’s a really big community for that. And you guys actually talked about this with Molly with Drive so I guess I’m reiterating a little bit but people are constantly getting older and access to care is always a problem. So a few different verticals we’re kind of looking at, but always expanding always growing.
Elio: [29:15] Yeah. And it’s no surprise, right, that these industries are shared because if you look around at portfolio companies, look at M25 and then you look at Rev1 and then you look at Allos and then you look at some others, you’ll see that they’re kind of invested in some of the same companies, right? It’s as if these companies get hot or these industries get hot, and then you guys kind of partner together and invest in these companies. So I wasn’t surprised looking at your website that there are some other investors that I’ve seen the same companies on their website, so there’s no surprise. Aging, I know is big. I’m excited that you’re in the media space. I don’t talk to a lot of investors that often are excited about media and about podcasting. I think it’s going to revolutionize the way we consume content going forward. But what is one thing from your perspective now you’ve kind of worked in different settings, and you’ve been on both sides of the table, what are some things that you’ve learned over time that if you could go back and kind of tell your younger version of yourself, that you think would be a good lesson to kind of apply going forward?
Paul: [30:18] Yeah. That’s a good question. I would say, I think we brought it up a little bit, but it’s just that like, try and fail as quick as possible. And I think the Midwestern experience is not that. I don’t think we necessarily celebrate failure and celebrate really going after big moonshot ideas as much as the coasts do, and so that would be my thing. I used to struggle with that all the time. Like when I got into venture capital, like man, imposter syndrome like crazy, right? Like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Do I know what I’m doing?” And so to me, it’s just that. If you have a big idea, pursue it, and I’m constantly pushing myself to try and do that. I think being a white guy from Midwest, kind of starting Sixty8 with Kelli, it’s kind of a part of that. I’m going to challenge myself to make a difference and have a big idea. So to me, that’s what it is. Just don’t be afraid of a big idea. Go after it, get those no’s early so you know what to do better next time.
Elio: [31:12] Paul, I know you were bumping some J. Cole and you got into it a little bit too much and then you were like, “You know what? I’m launching Sixty8 Capital, all right.” I know that’s how that idea came to you.
Paul: [31:25] I think that played a factor. You read the website well. He’s definitely one of my favorite artists.
Elio: [31:29] All right, for sure. All right, man. Well, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. Hopefully, you’ve had a great time. I’ve had a great time. Thank you so much. But I close every podcast with my one takeaway and what you said about how you avoid becoming jaded with talking to 200 people is you always try to add value. And at the end of the day, whether you’re a founder pitching a VC, or you’re somebody in the community, just a service provider, whoever you are, regardless of if you do business with people, at the end of the day, add value, always add value. That’s how we build as an ecosystem and that’s how we’re really, truly going to move the Midwest forward. Thank you for joining us on another episode. Peace.
[32:11] That’s a wrap. You can find this and all our episodes on our website, 614startups.com, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and all your favorite podcasting platforms. Don’t forget to subscribe and write a review. If you would like updates sent to your inbox, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter on the website. To engage in the 614Startups community, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at 614Startups to join the conversation. For sponsorship opportunities and collaborations, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[32:49] It takes a village to do a podcast and I would like to say a special thank you to my friends at Waveform Music Group. Andy and Carlin have been working with us to enhance the production of 614Startups and we’re so happy with the results. Outside of podcast production, Andy and Carlin are experts in sonic branding, songwriting, and music production for companies and creatives. To learn more about them, go to their website createwaveforms.com, that is createwaveforms.com.