Anniversary Time!

by David Matthews

It’s hard to believe, but 10 years ago this month I founded Trailblazer Capital and 5 years ago this month I founded what’s now RevTech Ventures. To quote the Grateful Dead, “what a long, strange trip it’s been.” Lots of great lessons learned, with more to come!

Trailblazer began in August 2006 with a $5 million in commitments from me, members of the Wyly family, and several of my entrepreneur friends. Michaels Stores had just been taken private in a $6.5 billion transaction led by the Bain and Blackstone PE funds, so the timing was good, or so I thought.

In 2007, I made the first 4 Trailblazer investments, just in time for the recession of 2008/09, in which 3 of those 4 investments perished. I got lucky on the 4th thanks to an acquisition just 8 weeks after we invested! In 2008, I recruited Joel Fontenot out of Cisco Networks to join me and to turn Trailblazer into a real micro-VC fund. We raised another $5 million, which funded a couple of Joel-led deals, one of which was a hit and enabled us to raise a $25 million second fund in 2011. We’ve now made 10 investments with that fund, several of which are well-positioned for great outcomes.

Here’s a few of my best lessons learned:

  1. Persistence wins the prize. Like entrepreneurship, venture investing is a marathon sport and requires perseverance.
  2. With startups, it always takes twice the time and money to get to results.
  3. Sometimes you do get lucky!
  4. Alignment of interests between investors and managers is an elusive, but vital goal.
  5. A great management team with a good idea trumps a good management team with a great idea.
  6. Resourcefulness is key for micro-VCs and for start-ups in Texas; funding is thin, so you have to figure out how to get $20 of output for every $1 of input.
  7. A network of mentors and connectors is equally important to a network of investors.


I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years have in store for Trailblazer and RevTech Ventures!