Everyone in the Silicon Valley startup industry certainly knows the name Mark Suster, successful entrepreneur, venture capitalist, blogger extraordinaire and mentor. As an investor, Suster seeks passionate entrepreneurs in technology-based startups.
Suster began his career working in computer networking and programming for Accenture. He helped construct corporate computer systems/networks and was eventually promoted to strategy consultant.
He’s also a world traveler from way back, having sojourned throughout Europe, and visiting such as France, Spain and Belgium. He also spent time in Japan.
A 2X entrepreneur, Suster founded his first company, BuildOnline, in 1999. Headquartered in London, the company provided a Software as a Service platform for major engineering and construction projects throughout Europe. The company was eventually acquired by The Sword Group, a publicly traded French company.
It wasn’t long before Suster returned home to the comfortable palm tree shade of San Mateo and launched his second company, Koral, which produced content collaboration software for businesses. He sold Koral in April 2007 to Salesforce.com, where he became the Vice President of Product Management.
Later in 2007, Suster took his current position as a partner at Upfront Ventures (formerly GRP Partners), a popular venture firm, based in Los Angeles. He focuses on early-stage technology companies, usually looking for Series A or seed investments.
Suster also created Launchpad LA, a mentorship program that helps promising LA-based companies receive funding. His blog, Both Sides of the Table, is an industry must-read.
He received his B.A from The University of California, San Diego and his M.B.A from the University of Chicago. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Upfront Ventures, formerly known as GRP Partners
Startups, Ecommerce, Strategic Partnerships, Angel Investing, Mobile Devices
Consumer Internet, Digital Content and Distribution
GameSalad, ecomom, Treehouse, GumGum, MakeSpace, awe.sm, Ad.ly, Javelin, Mongolab, ChowNow, MyTime, RingRevenue, Epoxy.tv, Adly, Ticketmob, Neverware, Expensecloud, App7
Moonfrye, awe.sm, MakeSpace, GumGum, Ad.ly, Burstly, MyTime, RingRevenue, Epoxy.tv
SaaS Business, Information Technology
On the cofounder mythology: “So what I like to tell people is, if you’re confident then hire your cofounders. Or be the cofounder that gets hired. But hire your cofounders if you’re confident.”
On risk taking: “I really believe that most entrepreneurs – people who want to do it – they are only willing to do it if they have two other people lined up on the cliff ready to jump at the same time as them.”
On providing funding: “I never tell people to be ungenerous. You can give them 5%, 3%, 12%, 25%, 40%, 46%, I could name more numbers, but you could offer anything. It’s not about the number. It’s about the prenup.”
On being authentic: “It’s the special things. It is the people who make a little bit more effort. I’m just saying, in life, not related to me, just be thoughtful. The thing about influence is, when you help other people, they mentally think, ‘That’s someone I owe.’ They don’t think it externally, they just know.”