Karen Kerr has a long track record in venture capital and manufacturing. For over two decades, she has been developing technology-based businesses, serving as Executive Managing Director at GE Ventures, as well as the Senior Director of New Ventures and Alliances at USC’s Stevens Center for Innovation (just to name a few). Today, she’s the Managing Director at Exposition Ventures in Chicago, IL.
In this episode, we discuss Karen’s exciting career in venture capital, how she got started and what she has planned for the future. We also take an in depth look into where manufacturing fits into venture capital, as well as which companies are leading the way with innovative technologies. We round off our talk with Karen’s priorities when looking for new companies to invest in, and a bit of conversation around some of Karen’s other favorite subjects, baseball and Scotch.
3 Quick Things from this Episode
- One of the most critical thing that venture capitalists look for is the entrepreneur’s ability to build a great team.
- The key to being a sustainable venture capital firm is to recognize changes in the market and embrace them rather than fight against them.
- Don’t overlook the importance of your brand’s origin story. While technology and processes are important, venture capitalists also pay attention to where you began and how passionate you are about your business.
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- “The entrepreneur is the most critical thing, and her ability to build a high-functioning team.” – Karen Kerr
- “It’s really how you manage people in teams…that’s what makes for a successful business.” – Karen Kerr
- “Companies that can address challenges that apply to different industries…that’s what I look for” – Karen Kerr
- “We’re in the early innings of Industry 4.0” – Karen Kerr
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What We Discuss with Karen
- We start by discussing Karen’s background and how she first got into venture capital
- What type of firms Karen’s worked with in the past
- Karen discusses her newest projects with Exposition Ventures
- We talk about what venture capital looks at when considering new businesses
- Karen share some history from her time with GE Ventures and how it changed over the years
- We discuss how far into Industry 4.0 we really are
- Karen talks us through her interest in manufacturing and technology
- Interesting companies that are harnessing Industry 4.0 (it’s a good list!)
- We wrap up our conversation by talking about Karen’s love of baseball and single malt scotch.
- Exposition Ventures, venture capital firm investing in manufacturing innovation and Industry 4.0-focused companies
- mHUB, an innovation center which removes barriers for hardtech entrepreneurs and manufacturers
- Pitchbook, a financial data and software company to help venture capitalists discover new opportunities
- Bruichladdich Distillery, a single malt distillery on the Isle of Islay in Scotland
- Springbank 21, Karen Kerr’s favorite single malt