We are very happy to announce that we recently hired Eric Olson as an Associate at DFJ Portage. We originally got to know Eric when he was in publisher services at our portfolio company, FeedBurner. He also co-founded TechCocktail which is now in several cities around the US and is one of the key tech networking events held quarterly. He has a strong interest in making the tech community stronger and in helping to build it up…a strong philosophical match with our mission.
So, today I took Eric out on his first due diligence trip to see a local medical clinic that was using the services of a potential investment. I thought the clinic was on the south side of the Chicago loop. However, as we drove on, the navigation system showed that we had another 5 miles west to go. The next thing I knew, we were in North Lawndale, which is one of the poorest communities in the city, if not the state. I had spent several months there when I was younger and researching the plight of inner city poverty. As we turned onto the clinic’s street, I noticed a youth in a padded Bears jacket hand another gentleman a small clear bag with one hand and take cash back from him with the other. Eric asked me if it was often that VC due diligence trips happened around drug deals in front of burnt out houses. I said it was first for me (though I have been around many a burnt out portfolio company…).
We parked the car and as I got out, Eric noticed that the youth was now on our side of the street and two plains clothes officers pulled up suddenly, jumped out and surrounded him. In the melee that followed, the officers cuffed the kid (who was about 220 lbs) and were pushing him into their car. Eric had to step around the officers to get forward on the sidewalk. The meeting and interview at the clinic went fairly routinely after that.
Eric said he could hardly wait for his next assignment. I mentioned that we had some interviews we needed to do in Kenya with Raila Odinga. Who said VC isn’t an exciting and adventurous job?
Don’t know what we’ll do to orient our next hire…