39: Venture Capital, Manufacturing, & Single Malt Scotch with Karen Kerr

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.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. One of the most critical thing that venture capitalists look for is the entrepreneur’s ability to build a great team.
  2. The key to being a sustainable venture capital firm is to recognize changes in the market and embrace them rather than fight against them.
  3. 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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Tweetable Quotes

  • “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

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn.

GenAlpha equips manufacturers, distributors and dealers with the products and services they need to accelerate profits online. If you are an equipment manufacturer or distributor and your customers struggle to identify the right parts for the job, GenAlpha can help. You can learn all about GenAlpha on Episode 34.

SteamChain.io is the Machine-as-a-Service solution provider helping both End-Users and OEMs collaborate, drive revenue, and grow together. Learn more about them on Episode 5 of Manufacturing Happy Hour.

Interested in generating leads through videos, podcasts, or other digital content? Then make sure to check out our 6 Strategies for Growing Your Manufacturing Business Using Social Media.

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.

Recommended Resources

  • 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

Connect with Karen on Social Media

Twitter | LinkedIn