It’s been an extended journey for entrepreneur Tom Gonser, who based digital signature and paperwork startup DocuSign in Seattle 13 years in the past. He has since served as the startup’s CEO after which its chief technique officer, and navigated DocuSign via explosive growth, hundreds of millions in funding, and a headquarters relocation to San Francisco.
And now, Gonser is stepping away from the firm to fill one other important function in the startup ecosystem: enterprise capitalist.
Gonser has joined Bend, Ore., based mostly enterprise capital agency Seven Peaks Ventures as a associate, and says he’s excited to enter this new section of his entrepreneurial profession.
“I’ve truly at all times been investing in expertise, its simply been my very own in the previous a number of iterations,” Gonser informed GeekWire in an e mail.
“That apart, my FAVORITE a part of beginning one thing is the zero-1 step, the place you create one thing that has not been executed earlier than, regardless of everybody telling you it might probably’t be executed,” he mentioned. “That stage creates wonderful issues that kills some and makes others actual founders. Quick reply, I like the ardour and grit it takes to begin one thing new.”
In his new function at Seven Peaks Ventures — a three-year-old agency started by venture capital veteran Dino Vendetti — Gonser mentioned he will likely be searching for gritty entrepreneurs who persistently chase what might look like unrealistic goals. That’s one thing Gonser is aware of nicely, since he helped construct DocuSign into an organization with greater than 250,000 paying clients, over 1,000 staff and a market worth in the billions.
“I do know what it takes to create a brand new class, and to construct an business,” mentioned Gonser. “I hope to meet and work with founders who’ve this similar ambition. In constructing DocuSign, we made many many choices on our progress. Some have been nice, some I want I had again. Throughout the course of, I discovered how to construct a real market-bending Unicorn…. I’m keen to share this expertise — the good and the unhealthy — with our portfolio firms, to allow them to keep away from a few of these points, and get there quicker.”
Gonser mentioned he’s significantly serious about firms and entrepreneurs who’re wanting to digitize processes, eradicating “old-style/fragile techniques” with versatile “cloud based mostly processes that may be nimble.”
“There are a selection of applied sciences together with enterprise workflow and good contracts, blockchain options, and cell empowerment that may give forefront firms a 10x benefit over those that transfer slowly,” he mentioned. “If these new firms are good they’ll execute a phased plan that offers them a place that may be very exhausting to break. That is the place I’m serious about investing.”
Gonser did take into account becoming a member of different enterprise capital companies, however he mentioned Seven Peaks’ geography and “rise of the relaxation” motto resonated with him. He mentioned that “the next nice thought may come out of your neighborhood, not simply from the San Francisco Bay Space.”
For somebody like Gonser, who has deep roots in the San Francisco and Seattle startup scenes, a considerably out-of-the-way metropolis like Bend might look like an odd alternative. However Gonser mentioned cities like Bend are literally superb for startups, and firms like Seven Peaks Ventures are heralding in a brand new set of choices for startups.
“I feel good individuals will notice that the positive factors in baseline way of life are a lot larger only one hour away from main metro areas, that we’ll see a flock of actually good founders determine to construct the next nice firm in a location that enables a greater stability, and is definitely way more environment friendly,” he mentioned.
“Seven Peaks Ventures shares an identical feeling that expertise has moved to a degree the place you now not have to transfer your organization to a giant metropolis to succeed,” mentioned Gonser. He added that he anticipates hubs like Bend, solely an hour’s flight to the San Francisco Bay Space, will grow to be more and more widespread locales for younger startups.
“How superior was it to find a excessive caliber crew (led) by a seasoned VC from the Bay Space residing in Bend, already creating the greatest enterprise capital alternative for startups in the Pacific Northwest, the place my roots are,” Gonser mentioned.
Vendetti, a former associate at Bay Companions in Silicon Valley and Vulcan Ventures in Seattle, is definitely excited to have one other skilled entrepreneur on the Seven Peaks’ crew.
“Tom shares our perception that category-leading firms are being inbuilt thriving regional markets throughout the nation and specifically in the West, the place quick access to the Bay Space has made markets like Seattle, Portland and Salt Lake Metropolis very engaging to each entrepreneurs and traders,” mentioned Vendetti in a launch.
An early stage enterprise fund, Seven Peaks has backed quite a few firms in the previous three years, together with Portland-based Opal Labs, Seattle-based Amplero and Bend-based Droplr.
Watch Gonser discuss his expertise as an entrepreneur at the 2015 GeekWire Summit beneath.