Inside the VentureSpur Experience: An Interview with Mentor Bruce Ballengee
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I’m the CEO of Pariveda Solutions, which I co-founded in 2003. It is the third company that I launched or have been involved with in a founder-type role. I’ve also done a lot of angel investing with the Baylor Angel Network. I’ve been doing angel investing for the last ten years.
Why did you become a mentor?
Bruce: …It is a very worthwhile thing to do. It can be fun. It can be a great learning experience. It’s a great way to return your entrepreneurial skills. Being a mentor allows you to pass on your specialty.
Bruce: They have a really good understanding of a part of the internet value chain, if you will, all these different providers that essentially make money with clicks and ad placements. That was very educational for me, because I hadn’t really explored that kind of marketing much and I knew very little about it – very surface knowledge. Their whole business model is basically “How do we target e-commerce marketing by adding and extracting marketing value through e-mail?” It was very educational.
Were there any particular events within the accelerator that you thought were particularly effective?
Bruce: I was very impressed with the Pitch Day at the Inwood Theatre. It wasn’t done in the typical way pitches are done. The startup pitch presentations were more like marketing pitches. I really liked that. That’s really very good, because with a lot of investment-type decisions, you’re going to need different kinds of material and different things to think about [than investment materials]. In a standard pitch for money you aren’t going to spend as much time on “This is how we go to market” and “This is how we appeal.” So I enjoyed that. It was innovative and engaging.
What was the most meaningful part of the mentorship experience?
Bruce: Just meeting with the team, the most particular meeting I enjoyed being after they’ve graduated and they’re coming back to start practicing their pitch. So, you get to see the progress and the process of getting their idea much more crisp and refined was enjoyable.
How do you feel you benefited the startup you worked with as a mentor?
Bruce: They got the perspective of someone who does investing in this space on how they might be viewed by other investors and in the market.
What would you tell another entrepreneur to encourage them to become a mentor?
Bruce: It’s good to contribute to the community and this is a good way to contribute. That appeals to a lot of people, but not everybody. There’s also this: You can learn a lot, which appeals to another band of folks that want to learn things about business. And, then there’s a third group that … wants to find investment ideas … to put my money in. There are compelling reasons to mentor.
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