LA Venture: Meet Nick Grouf and His PhD-Powered Venture Fund

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
LA Venture: Meet Nick Grouf and His PhD-Powered Venture Fund

This week, I sat down with Nick Grouf, founder and managing partner at Alpha Edison, a knowledge-driven venture fund he runs with his partner, Nate Redmond. Grouf is an ardent believer that venture capitalism has become very reactive, and he and his partner aim to take a different approach. Alpha Edison highly values education, diverse opinion and insight, and startups proactively bridging gaps in the market.

Grouf prioritizes sifting through all the noise in the venture industry, which he notes grows increasingly competitive. He built his company on the cornerstone value of diligence and studies sector vulnerabilities to give his fund the best shot at success.

Grouf talks about how he selected his team, and what he values in co-workers.

"We all have different work experiences and we think that those different experiences compliment each other and allow us to come at a problem from very different angles," he said. He argues this is essential to maintaining a competitive edge, as it allows his company to work through potential pitfalls and stay sharply focused on the deals at hand, while leaving room to analyze business decisions.

Grouf also emphasized the importance of recognizing your own weaknesses in order to be a good leader. By admitting his own fears, he said, he was able to better delegate tasks and focus on his strengths.

Grouf believes he has learned most from his mistakes, and that growth often springs forth from challenges. This mentality is also essential in relationships with founders.

"It's a right that you have to earn: to be the first call that an entrepreneur makes — not when things are going well, because if you get good news late, that's no problem — but when things are really tough."

We also discussed how Alpha Edison attempts to identify new addressable markets, Nick's personal investing insights, and how their company uses challenges as unique learning opportunities.

Nick Grouf is the founder and a managing partner at Alpha Edison. He is a serial entrepreneur, and currently serves on the boards of The Hammer Museum, Trajal Harrell Dance Company and Walther School Foundation.

"Far more important to us [are] the things that we do wrong, because we believe that you do a lot of learning in life, but sometimes you learn the most from the challenges." —Nick Grouf

dot.LA Engagement Intern Colleen Tufts contributed to this post.

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Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

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