Blake Robbins is only 22, but some of the world’s leading technology firms are on his resume, including stints at SpaceX, Nest, and Google. Now, he’s back in Michigan and tackling early-stage investing as an Associate and MVCA Venture Fellow at Ludlow Ventures. Blake talked to MVCA about why he loves early-stage venture capital, if he plans to still be at it in 10 years, and the mega deal he learned about just a few weeks too late.
How did you find out about the Fellows program? What advantage do you think the Fellows program gives younger professionals and venture firms when trying to make a match?
I first learned about the Fellows program through a past fellow: Brett deMarrais, while interning at Ludlow Ventures. Brett is someone I look up to immensely, so when he told me more about the program, I was immediately interested. He mentioned how monumental the program has been to his career, so I researched the program further on my own and eventually decided to apply.
The biggest advantage of the Fellows program, in my opinion, is the fact that it encourages and empowers young professionals the opportunity to grow the Venture Capital industry in Michigan. As many know, venture firms don’t typically do traditional job postings, so this program is a great way to motivate venture firms in Michigan to grow their teams with young professionals.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Fellow? What will you be doing at your new firm?
The thing that I’m looking forward to most about being a Fellow is the ability to help shape and grow the future of Ludlow Ventures. At Ludlow Ventures, I will be helping primarily with sourcing high quality deals and taking initial meetings with early stage founders. Given the fact that Ludlow Ventures is a small team, I will have the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and do a multitude of roles.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be a Partner at one of the best early-stage venture firms in the country: Ludlow Ventures. I hope to help grow Ludlow Ventures into a nationally recognized venture firm, known for their hustle, humility, and compassion.
Personally, I hope to be doing something that continually challenges me to learn and grow.
What attracts you to the venture capital industry? Why build your career in Michigan?
I am particularly attracted to early-stage venture. Early-stage venture, in my opinion, is one of the ways to build a powerful long-term professional network. You get the opportunity to work with and meet founders when they need you the most. I’ve always considered myself a “first-mover” and love the idea of being able to explore and identify unchartered ventures.
Michigan is home. I was born and raised here, and will do everything I can to always stay here. There are far too many successful Michigan-born investors and entrepreneurs that have built their business outside of Michigan, and I want to help reverse that “brain drain”. When I first heard about Ludlow Ventures, I did everything in my power to get a meeting with them, because I knew they were doing what I love – in the state that I love.
What’s your dream deal (the venture backed firm you wish YOU had spotted first!)?
This is a tough question. I think rather than going the traditional route of: Snapchat, Uber, or Facebook, I’ll say: Periscope. Periscope is my dream deal for a multitude of reasons, but the biggest reason is because I was so close to spotting them prior to Twitter acquiring them (in 2015). While interning at Ludlow Ventures, a past colleague invited me to the beta for Periscope. We immediately knew that we wanted to invest; however, we were just a couple weeks late – they were already in talks to be acquired by Twitter. As is so often the case in venture investing, a few weeks can make all the difference!
About Ludlow Ventures:
Ludlow operates differently because we’re a different kind of VC. We believe in VC without ego. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, avoiding the puffery and posturing that has given venture capital a bad name. We fund the dreams of entrepreneurs and startups, becoming close friends with all of the teams we invest in. VC is a customer service business; whether it’s testing product, leveraging our network, or forcing people to download your app, we’re here to help.