Welcome to our new Meet the Team series where we will feature a member from our Team each week to give you a behind the scenes look at the people that make it all happen at NGP Capital.
Feature of the week
John Gardner – Venture Partner
John is one of the OGs. He founded NGP Capital back in 2005 alongside Paul Asel and was instrumental to making the firm what it is today. John's prior experience include founding BlueRun Ventures, as well as 20 years of experience working with a myriad of companies at Nokia - wow! He's invested in companies like Vida Health and PubMatic.
John spends a few weeks each summer in Canada - it's part of his marriage contract ;) And he loves to spend time outdoors. Read on to see what got him into tech and VC and what his stance is on D&I.
What was your first job in the tech or VC world?
I got into tech/VC while still getting my MBA at University of Chicago. A friend of mine was standing up a corporate development unit at Nokia Oy, based in Silicon Valley. We did strategic investing and Mergers+Acquisition.
What first got you excited about the tech industry?
In a prior life as a lawyer at KMK is Cincinnati OH, I volunteered on a project to automate the firm’s form documents as integrated “systems”. Not really coding per se, but I was involved at ground level to see how technology could massively reduce the mind numbing repetitive low/no value add tasks to free people to focus on the things that mattered to the client. I still see the huge opportunity to do similar to digitally transform traditional industries across the board, and in particular am investing behind digital health solutions that can free providers to focus on care, not data entry, for instance.
If you got $1B of funding for your own start-up, what kind of company would you start from scratch today?
I would use technology to re-invent senior living facilities as effective, engaging, affordable places for residents and their families.
What do you like to do in your free time that does not involve a screen?
Run, bike, kayak: be outdoors. Follow and support the passions of my family and friends.
Diversity and Inclusion is hot topic now. What improvements do you think the industry could make overall?
VC’s are still fishing in such a limited number of familiar pools, for new investments, and in hiring associates or partners for their own firms, and in building out a balanced Board of Directors.
The good news is that I think we could easily double or triple the number of under represented entrepreneurs being funded, or working at firms, or on Boards, simply by making it a priority to find smart, talented, technically savvy persons where they are, instead of waiting for women, or persons of color, or of a different sexual orientation, to show up at our collective front doors.
The challenge is that doubling or tripling abysmally small numbers is not near enough. In order to really make continuous improvement against historical deficiencies, we will need to work with the system to increase the overall number of historically disadvantaged persons who choose tech and innovation as a priority in the first place. Make a broader spectrum of people feel like they belong – or could belong; could really thrive – so they clearly see the tech and start-up world as a place to pursue change with real passion.