Texas Venture Labs Co-Founder Shares VC Tips

When Randall Crowder, MBA ’10, came out of the military, he faced some doubters. “There was a sense of, ‘You’ve never been on Wall Street, you’ve never sold a company,’” Crowder said. “You have got to put yourself through that crucible… There are plenty of people with Harvard resumes. There are not that many people who have led 50 people in combat.”

The former captain in the U.S. Army, however, soon became a business leader, too. Now a managing partner at TEXO Ventures, an early-stage health care venture capital firm, Crowder said his time in the military initially seemed to put him at a disadvantage against his peers. However, Crowder said that while venture and investing can be taught, leadership is only learned through experience.

Crowder also drove the Central Texas Angel Network to become the fourth most active angel network in the country, and he conceived and launched Texas Venture Labs while studying at the McCombs School of Business.

One of the mistakes Crowder said he sees in new entrepreneurs is how they compare themselves to larger competitors and become discouraged. He said although Austin will never be Silicon Valley, local entrepreneurs can still “be Austin” and challenge themselves against their peers in the right setting.

“When I hear pitches from entrepreneurs in Austin… [they say] ‘All we need is $1 million and we’re running out of money,’” Crowder said. “Go to angel [investors], own that strategy, and do that. If you’re going to go to a VC, understand the dynamics of venture… and make sure your pitch is inspiring.”

Crowder shared his thoughts on valuable startup skills, the health care industry, and pitching problems.

On Austin’s comparison problem:

On skills that prepare a company for success:

On starting a business with little funding:

Randall Crowder spoke at first installment of the MoneyTalks! Series on Oct. 13, 2015. The talk was hosted by the Herb Keller Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Renewal, and moderated by Entrepreneur-in-Residence Laura Kilcrease. Click here to watch the full interview.

Originally published at www.today.mccombs.utexas.edu.



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