The incredible innovation happening in Michigan, especially Detroit, attracted Jake Simon to a career in the venture capital industry. As he embarks on his career with Fontinalis Partners as a senior analyst, Jake spoke with MVCA about his new role at the firm, his plans to help build great businesses in Michigan (and some day open an Italian restaurant!), and how the MVCA Venture Fellows program is helping him transition from investment banking into venture capital.
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 learned about the Fellows program from Chris Stallman and Dan Ratliff at Fontinalis Partners as I made my transition from investment banking into venture capital. The Fellows program seemed like a fantastic way to get more involved in venture capital activities and within Michigan’s entrepreneurial community, in addition to joining an organization full of talented individuals. I was inspired by the opportunity to build relationships with younger professionals, learn new skill sets, and improve Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community given the immense momentum we’ve seen in the investment and strategic landscape.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Fellow? What will you be doing at Fontinalis?
The Fellows program will be an insightful resource and network as I start my early progression in the buy-side field and build a long-lasting career in venture capital. I’m looking forward to providing value to the broader community, gaining an invaluable network, and obtaining additional resources outside of my new firm. As a senior analyst with Fontinalis, I will be responsible for a variety of tasks involving deal due diligence, sourcing and evaluating prospective investments, business development with current portfolio companies, valuation analyses, conducting industry research, and other functions supporting the firm’s operations and strategies (e.g., fund raising, fund reporting, etc.).
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
I hope to gain a dynamic experience in the entrepreneurial and investment community over the next ten years while building a successful career at Fontinalis. I hope to be leading numerous investment opportunities, supporting the firm’s growth initiatives, and earning attractive returns for our investors by executing successful exits within our portfolio. My long-lasting vision is to inspire and support innovation alongside entrepreneurs to improve the human condition. I look forward to creating extraordinary outcomes to transform the world by investing in and working with market leading startups, particularly in the next-generation mobility space. In addition to venture capital (and likely longer than 10 years), I plan to build and own an amazing Italian restaurant!
What attracts you to the venture capital industry? Why build your career in Michigan?
Venture capital creates progress. It advances new ideas. It helps support the development of innovative technologies. And, as I mentioned previously, it creates jobs. The positive impacts of the venture capital and entrepreneurship industry are endless and are the reasons why I am most excited. In my opinion, Michigan has an enormous amount of unlocked potential. Filled with top universities and strong corporate industry, the state is a great place to be. Building a career in Michigan reaps the benefits of joining in on the momentum budding within the local technology and startup community.
What’s your dream investment (the venture-backed startup you wish YOU had spotted first!)?
One of the most successful startup investments is Amazon. The company’s incredible success story features an innovative founder creating a market leading platform generating over $61 billion, merely based on an idea in his garage over 30 years ago. Amazon set a revolution for online retail and is currently setting futuristic trends for supply chain, transportation, and emerging technologies. Jeff Bezos had a disruptive vision for the original online bookstore since he saw an innovative solution to a complex problem. It’s fascinating to hear about the experiments and struggles that Amazon faced, as it provides inspiration for entrepreneurs to never give up on their aspirations. At Fontinalis, we are excited about these success stories and are thrilled to see Amazon innovate since they play a key role in the strategic landscape of next-generation mobility.