by Ken Loveless
Let me make it abundantly clear. Andrew is whip smarter than the four of us combined and we’re fairly certain we’ll be working for him one day. With two rounds at Harvard and a stint at Oxford in between, our academic credentials pale by comparison.
But, we knew we might have our guy when we learned that he actually dropped out of Oxford. A little digging and we came to learn that Andrew, despite growing up in the one-traffic-light town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, was the computer nerd on his block. That’s where he cut his nine-year old coding teeth on a Gateway 2000 with a 75 Mhz processor, building on the Oregon Trail gaming platform. Little did he know that he would actually follow that trail out West one day.
What got Andrew to drop-out of Oxford was the chance to follow his techie side and join a consumer bio-sensory startup running product development. While there, he and a colleague developed an eye tracking technology and, with the company’s blessing, spun it out and became co-founders. Simultaneously, he started doing double duty as a Harvard MBA candidate. That’s where he really zeroed in on entrepreneurship and venture capital.
Coming out of Harvard, Andrew saw the barbell developing in venture capital where everything was happening either very early or very late. That inherently appealed to him because of his own startup endeavors and the later stage experience he got through a private equity firm. But few firms simultaneously covered both ends of the spectrum.
Andrew discovered Founders Circle through a classmate who had previously worked with Mike. But Andrew was hearing that the secondary financing business was tainted with an unappealing color of jaundice. I think we did a pretty effective job of explaining to him how we were starting to redefine the space. We’re glad that he didn’t listen to anyone at HBS who advised “no way, that’s a bad neighborhood” and did listen a handful of younger mentors who advised “absolutely, this matters.”
We gave Andrew a live deal where we had a week to make a decision. He dove into the diligence, crunched out an analysis and recommended that we pass. He was right and we did. Then we hired him.
Now he feels like he has the best of both worlds where he gets to focus on founders, like venture stage, running breakaway businesses, like growth stage.