Prairie Portrait: Nick Engelbart of Dundee Venture Capital
Name: Nick Engelbart
Bio: Financial Analyst at Dundee Venture Capital. Funding entrepreneurs in E-Commerce, web services and digital media.
Title: Analyst, but rarely are titles used in our office at the Mastercraft.
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "Did I Mention I Like to Dance," by Flint Flossy. I heard this song at a wedding, and all of the groomsmen started dancing in a routine … it was the "exact moves" to this video. They happened to be offensive linemen.
Silicon Prairie News: You join Dundee as the firm expands its staff, moves offices and closes a $15 million fund. What has it been like adjusting to the new job amidst that change?
Nick Engelbart: Absolutely exciting. I have already learned so much by working with Mark Hasebroock, Michael Wetta, Shaunna Boley and Andrea Sandel. Every day is different and filled with new challenges. I realized from the get go that my responsibilities would range from providing market research and enterprise analytical analysis, all the way to desk assembly.
It is rewarding to relate to some of the challenges that entrepreneurs face as they start their businesses. I’ve already met some amazing people and being a part of their dreams is very cool. We are really enjoying the creative atmosphere at the Mastercraft.
SPN: Having interned as an analyst at McCarthy Capital before joining Dundee, how would you say your job as an analyst differs now that you're dealing with smaller, earlier-stage investments? How is it similar?
NE: In terms of finding attractive investments, the same rules and concepts still apply. The terms just change a bit. Like McCarthy, we are looking to fund quality management teams with a differentiated product or service in a growing market. At McCarthy, most companies had established revenues in mature markets. At DVC, most companies that we look at have little to no revenue and are entering into green pastures. Hence, it is necessary to start at the base of the company and rely heavily on the founder’s passion and vision. We always ask an entrepreneur about their vision, the problem they are solving and how they will win. Also, valuation is more difficult for startups than more established businesses. Our focus is between $100,000 to $2 million, which is a wide range, but our hands-on experience is truly a value add.
SPN: You have described yourself as "looking to boost the entrepreneurial spirit in Omaha and the Midwest." To what would you attribute that interest in regional entrepreneurship?
NE: That is certainly a goal of ours at DVC. That comes back to a statement I heard Mark make a while back. He was discussing the growth at Hayneedle, and he started talking about his difficulties in finding capital to scale his business right here in Nebraska. He ended up receiving a round of funding from Sequoia Capital, which was great, but he certainly saw the void here. Eric Markowitz recently mentioned in an article that Nebraska ranked worst in the country in capital markets in 2007. We will change that.
Like any business, we are seeing an opportunity for us to enter a thirsty market while fulfilling the capital and advisory needs of entrepreneurs. If our capital can be the reason for a 9-5 corporate employee to take his weekend idea full-time, we have plowed new ground. These people need to at least know the opportunity and funding for creativity is available.
SPN: As someone whose hobbies include hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors, what are your favorite places for enjoying each of those three pastimes?
NE: That really goes back to my upbringing in a small community in Nebraska. The entertainment scene usually involves creating your own fun. Since I was a kid, my dad, brother, and I have been bonding by spending time in the outdoors. Now, it is a way to get out of the metropolitan scene, or as my dad would say, “the city,” for a day or two. We have been on a few hunting and fishing trips, but the location is not as important as the people you are with.
SPN: Social network sleuthing unearthed a photo (left) in which it appears you and The Oracle of Omaha are "Tebowing." Would you care to share the story behind that one?
NE: Every year, Warren selects about 10 colleges throughout the United States to attend a Q&A session and have lunch at Piccolo Pete’s. At Piccolo's, he takes pictures with each of the approximately 150 students that attend, which is about a two-hour process. He is willing to take about any type of picture, so my professor recommended that I “Tebow” with him. He knew what it was right away. Awesome guy.
Credits: Engelbart photo courtesy of Engelbart. Buffett photo from facebook.com.
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