"It's our future, let's build it together"

5 Questions with Joe Powers

September 5, 2019

Entrepreneurs hear the advice “don’t fear failure” all the time, but you have actually gone through the experience of dissolving a startup. How did you come to that decision? 

Joe Powers,
Investment Manager at Maine Venture Fund

My latest startup experience was relatively low-risk as far as startups go. I spent about 18 self-funded months with a team of third-party partners focused on product/market fit and after a number of dead-ends, I decided to dissolve my company. I was lucky in that I didn’t need to let anyone go.

You’ve built a career in San Francisco and New York with early-stage companies like Tesla. What motivated you to come back to New England and land in Maine?

I grew up in Vermont. Coming to Maine was a way to be within driving distance of my family, explore a new region that I learned to love while growing up, and be more directly connected to my community.

When you made the switch from raising capital to investing capital, was there a “lightbulb moment” when you understood an aspect of venture capital that you hadn’t understood as an entrepreneur?

Many. Here are two: 1) investors need entrepreneurs just as much as entrepreneurs need investors; 2) evaluating early stage companies is an art, so I use intuition and bias recognition daily, right alongside Excel and PowerPoint.

Many of the companies with whom you worked and founded are within their industries’ sustainable sector. Why is sustainability important to you, and is it a focus for your investment at Maine Venture Fund (MVF)?

Our goal at MVF is to maximize the “public benefit” of our investments while helping Maine companies grow. We evaluate benefits in a number of ways, including environmental sustainability. Personally, I find the most motivation here because of the value I place on my own health and the health of the people I love, which is directly linked.

We are quite excited to host you at Central Maine Tech Night this month. Can we get a sneak peek of what you’ll be sharing with our audience?

I hope to introduce MVF and my own background, then dive a bit deeper into what a “day in the life of a VC” (venture capitalist) looks like. And should the audience fall asleep, I may also bring a game to play…

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Last modified: June 21, 2021

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