Talent. Tenacity. Teamwork.
ONSET’s entrepreneurs are a unique breed — innovative thinkers driven to build successful businesses that will change the world. Meet a few of these visionaries and see what they have to say about the benefits of partnering with ONSET Ventures.
Founder, President and CEO, Access Closure, Mountain View, CA
Fred Khosravi is one of a special breed of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – people who are not content starting one company and are instead compelled to do it again and again. Access Closure is Fred’s seventh start-up and his third with ONSET Ventures as a funding and business building partner. The company makes devices used to seal arterial punctures after vascular interventional procedures.
Part of what makes Fred’s story remarkable is that his first start-up, as he puts it, “was not a rapid success. Everyone, including Rob Kuhling, hoped we’d make more progress, more quickly. But Rob saw something in me that wasn’t obvious to many others and gave me a second chance.”
Despite his success, Fred still values the guidance he gets from ONSET. “One of the primary roles of a start-up company Board of Directors is to help management see the forest through the trees, while management is in the trenches running the day to day activities,” says Fred. “Rob has been a real partner and has clearly played that role for me.”
Today, Fred works most closely with Rob and Leslie Bottorff, routinely previewing ideas for new companies or new markets for existing companies with both of them before making a final decision. “Leslie worked in the medical device technology industry and is extremely knowledgeable about the business,” says Fred.
And Rob, according to Fred, maintains a big picture view, anticipating problems before they occur. “Rob has a lot of operational experience,” says Fred. “This gives him the ability to see things a little ahead of management. Rob tells you that the wall is coming.”
But for now, there appear to be few walls in Access Closure’s future – and Fred and ONSET are working hard to keep it that way.
Chairman, Alteon WebSystems, San Jose, CA
Dominic Orr’s resume is the kind that gets the attention of venture capitalists funding technical start-ups. With a BS in physics from City University of New York and a MS and PhD from California Institute of Technology, investors have no doubt that Dominic can grasp complex networking technologies and establish rapport with bright engineers. Equally important, before Dominic became a start up CEO for the first time, he had already spent 20 years in senior management positions at Bay Networks, Hewlett-Packard and Hughes Aircraft.
So when potential investors were evaluating a start-up called Alteon WebSystems, it didn’t take long for Dominic’s name to surface as a possible CEO. Alteon was founded by four engineers to develop gigabit Ethernet products that increase the performance, scalability and availability of servers and multi-server applications in internet and intranet computing environments.
“I was a senior vice president of Bay Networks at the time,” says Dominic, “a company I had joined from HP when it was SynOptics to gain management experience at a smaller company. Ironically, three months after I joined, the company merged and less than a year later I was working in a big company again. So much for my plans to get small company experience.”
That’s what made the chance to become CEO of Alteon so attractive and that’s where Dominic met Rob Kuhling of ONSET Ventures. “Rob visited us in San Jose and spent an afternoon with us,” says Dominic. “What impressed me most was that Rob had already researched our space thoroughly and had looked at a number of companies before coming to see us. As a result, they were able to determine that we were a good investment and gain buy-in from the partnership in record time. We were under pressure to close the round as soon as possible and we had a commitment from ONSET that same day.”
Neither Alteon nor ONSET ever looked back. The company had a successful IPO and was acquired by Nortel Networks, leaving founders, management and investors very pleased with the outcome. Dominic went on to become President of Nortel Networks, Intelligent Internet Web Systems. He is currently President and CEO of Aruba Networks and an investor in several nascent start-ups.
“What I value most from VCs such as ONSET are their network of contacts – ONSET in particular was very helpful with recruiting – and their role as a sounding board,” says Dominic. “No matter how experienced you are, it always helps to have people you trust with whom you can talk through issues and opportunities.”
Founder and Executive Chairman, Obopay, Redwood City, CA
Carol Realini is one of Silicon Valley’s most experienced entrepreneurs, with a history of launching multiple successful companies behind her. She conceived the idea behind Obopay, her latest startup, while doing volunteer work in rural Africa. Carol recognized that although people in remote areas may not have access to formal banking services, almost all of them had a cell phone. “The insight of marrying cell phones with banking and payment services had equal applicability in the developed world,” says Carol. “Our ever-more-mobile lifestyle really requires a quick and easy way of sending money to loved ones and making payments through the mobile phones we all carry.”
On returning home from her travels Carol assembled a team of entrepreneurs who shared her passion and together they founded Obopay. When it came to raising venture funding for the company Carol says, “I had a vision of changing the world and wanted to work with people who would join me in that effort. I’d had a bit of experience building successful startups before. I knew that I wanted to work with investors who would genuinely partner with me to grow our startup into something truly transformative. That’s why we partnered with ONSET Ventures.”
Carol’s partnership with ONSET Ventures has helped Obopay to become one of the leading providers of mobile payment services in the world. The company has strategic relationships with major international institutions – banks, wireless carriers, technology providers – including Nokia, Citi and MasterCard. Obopay is now powering next-generation mobile payments for all kinds of person-to-person, person-to-business and business-to-person transactions in countries around the world.
Says Carol, “On the path to success, all startups will encounter their share of seemingly insurmountable challenges. It’s great to have an investor like ONSET Ventures who’s been there with us every step of the way.”