"The coach in the startup game"
Cabe Edelhertz '22 | Medina, WA
Major | IBE: Industrial/Systems Engineering and Finance
Minor | Computer Science
Today we learned about the coach in the startup game. When startups begin their journey, they often go to venture capitalists to coach them through building a growing their business as well as providing them with funds to make their growth and success possible. This morning, at the amazing Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, we heard from Nicola Corzine, the executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial center, and, proud Lehigh grads, Keith Janosky, the CFO and head of investor relations at Khosla Ventures, and Joe Blair, a proven entrepreneur and principal at Cota Capital. We learned how these VC firms operate, how they find and invest in startups, and how they end up getting returns with strategic exits.
When asked what makes a company venture backable, Joe Blair responded “scalability.” We learned that venture investments are unique and specifically target ventures that can reach millions of customers and have exponential returns, which requires the business to be scalable. Another point, made by Keith Janosky, that I found very interesting was the idea that VCs don’t sign NDAs because the best founders are confident enough to tell them, “go tell everyone my idea, but I will be the one to execute it successfully.” We tend to get caught up in the jargon business and forget to realize that at the end of the day the path to success relies on hard work and results.
Next, we got to hear from Lehigh grad Paul Martino, the extremely successful entrepreneur and founder of Bullpen Capital, who told us of his entrepreneurial journey, founding and selling multiple successful ventures, and founding his daring venture capital firm that seeks out the misfits and hidden gem ventures that many other VC firms often ignore. Next, we heard from Ed Aten, the founder and CEO of, Merchbar, and learned about how he and his company work to get through issues that are often out of their control, and how they still continue to grow their company. We got insight into the problem-solving process of teams, CEOs, and their investors and saw firsthand how CEO Ed Atins works tirelessly while keeping a cool, casual, and friendly vibe, also sporting a classic Grateful Dead t-shirt from Merchbar.
To cap up all the fun, we came back to the Lehigh@NasdaqCenter for the Lehigh Alumni event where we were lucky enough to get to hang out with Lehigh grads living and working in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley and heard about their journey from Lehigh to their amazing jobs here in the bay area.
Today we learned that often times the entrepreneur is seen as the player, and the VC is the coach, that guides the entrepreneur to success, and we learned how VCs and ventures work cohesively to grow their business.