HPVP is thrilled to announce that Ryan Fukushima, formerly an associate at Techstars Chicago, has joined Hyde Park Venture Partners (HPVP) as our Senior Associate. Ryan’s joining is a story about growth, partnership, and risk taking.
Why did we grow our team?
We are two years into the HPVP experiment and now have a growing network and role in the Midwest ecosystem. Most importantly, we have partnered with 11 amazing teams. With this comes the responsibility to fulfill our promises to them on commercial intros, securing future financings, recruiting talent and providing strategic thought partnership – aka, “adding value”.
We are growing and there is more and more work to do, both with our existing portfolio and in finding and wooing great new teams in which to invest. Yet, as with our portfolio companies, expanding a founding team is always a difficult decision. How does a first hire fit with the current team? Who do you hire? How do you hire? Can you afford it? We were fortunate in thatexceeding our $20M fundraising goal and reaching $25M gave us the flexibility to hire…
But who? Why Ryan?
As I’ve mentioned in a past post, we take hiring seriously. This is especially true in a team of two. Ira and my partnership is in many ways a marriage. We know what the other thinks, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and a have strong mutual respect. We can also be direct and prickly with each other: this is how we work through problems, pursue opportunity and make better decisions as a team. In many ways, it could be a daunting duo to join. While we weren’t bringing in another Partner (capital P), we knew that anyone we hired would need to be part of the partnership.
Ryan was the answer. Little did he (or we) know it, but he has been interviewing for HPVP for a year, starting with his time at Huron River Ventures, an HPVP co-investor, and then during his summer at Techstars working with two HPVP mentors, Sam Yagan and Steve Farsht (and Troy too!). Ryan has the unique combination of skills and disposition that are needed for venture and our team. He is wicked smart, moves fast and prioritizes… all while doing high quality work. He also builds strong relationships and is simply a great person for entrepreneurs to work with – evidenced by the flow of positive feedback we got from colleagues and entrepreneurs when we sought input on Ryan. And Ryan has the final key, the backbone to question Ira and my assumptions and teach us new tricks.
Ryan had a lot of other opportunities in front of him – corporate roles, startups, and other VCs, and joining a new early stage venture fund like HPVP is risky. We are humbled that Ryan took a risk on us and are excited for the days ahead. Besides… what entrepreneur wouldn’t love this terrific smile?
Ryan can share his side of the story:
[Ryan] Chicago has won me over. I’ve been here for a few months and have become excited by the entrepreneurial development in this city. As a California native, I was skeptical at first, but the ecosystem here is special. This summer, I was a Techstars Chicago associate helping run the 90-day program. Never in my life have I had such great exposure to CEOs, investors and mentors. Through the program, I interacted with Guy and Ira from HPVP. Their support for the teams was quite impressive and they helped our teams tremendously.
In fact, Guy helped with one of the most confusing elements about startups: the infamous cap table. He didn’t just explain it; he put our teams through a hands-on cap table boot camp. “It was the most useful session we had all summer” said one CEO. I believe everyone (myself included) walked away from the session with a huge amount of respect for the HPVP guys. As Techstars Chicago came to a close, I had an amazing opportunity to join the HPVP team.
I had to make a choice. Do I take a more secure position with less growth potential? Or, do I risk it and join a first time fund with more growth opportunities? It is the common tradeoff when deciding between a corporate job and a startup role. At this point in my career, I’m more than willing to take the risk with the understanding that I will get to learn a hell of a lot from Guy and Ira. At HPVP, I can join a team I know and respect, help build a new firm and partner with terrific entrepreneurs. I quickly jumped at the opportunity and couldn’t be happier.
Here is what I want entrepreneurs know about me.
I don’t want to sound like a cliché VC but I am very passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed. Seriously, it’s true. While at Techstars, I helped create and validate a hypothesis that changed the growth trajectory of a business. I felt like Tiger Woods sinking the 18th hole at the Masters. Not quite but you get my point; I was excited. Similar to the way I supported the Techstars Chicago companies, I hope to help other Chicago startups.
I firmly believe that as more successful companies are built in Chicago, more startups will set up shop in the region. We’re all in this together and I am humbled by the opportunity to work at a venture fund in the Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Like Mr. Bennett, I may have left my heart in San Francisco but Chicago has won me over rather quickly.