We’ve had a busy 2017 at Firebrand Ventures and the year is only 24 days old!
First we announced tech pioneer Brian McClendon joined the Firebrand team as advisor. Brian grew up in Lawrence, KS, went to KU, and eventually founded Keyhole whose main product became Google Earth after Google acquired them in 2004. As their VP of Engineering Brian went on to lead the development of Google Maps, Street View, and Earth for almost 11 years before joining Uber in 2015 as their VP of Maps. Although he’s based in SF he frequently visits Lawrence. Brian is an awesome addition to the world class team we’re building.
Then we finalized a partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Universities should be the primary feeder of talent and tech into any great startup ecosystem. I’ve gotten to know the great folks at UMKC and they want nothing more than to help their entrepreneurs succeed. We can’t wait to invest in exceptional student entrepreneurs right here in KC!
Finally we announced our investment in Des Moines-based Dwolla. Every investment we make is special. Right off the bat this one was special because I’ve known Ben for about 5 years. Dwolla was also the first Midwest startup I engaged with after reconnecting with the regional startup community in 2012. I’ve always respected the culture of building he created there and the scope of their mission. The fact we got to co-invest alongside top tier VCs such as Foundry Group and Union Square Ventures made it even more appealing. To top it off, Brad Feld has been a valued mentor for me so doing a deal together was fantastic.
As for the rest of 2017, I don’t know what other news we’ll have to share but I promise to continue doing everything I can to help founders all over the greater Midwest!