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Revolution at LVG: Kristin Gunther Joins LVG Seed Fund Investment Committee

7/30/2020

The UVA Licensing & Ventures Group (LVG) is pleased to welcome the newest member of the LVG Seed Fund Investment Committee, Kristin Gunther (Darden ’09). A Principal at Revolution Growth, Kristin brings a wealth of experience in early-stage and startup development to the LVG Seed Fund. Kristin replaces Jonathan Ebinger on the committee, who has graciously donated his time and expertise to LVG over the last four years, to join Dayna Grayson, Co-founder and General Partner of Construct Capital; Gerry Brunk, Managing Director at Lumira; Robert Paull, Co-Founder and Managing General Partner of Lux Capital; and Peter Grant, Founding Partner of Anchormarck Holdings and the Chair of our LVG Board of Directors.

These five UVA alumni who are active venture capitalists make up the Investment Committee which governs the activity of the LVG Seed Fund. Since its inception in 2016, the Fund has made nine initial and seven follow-on investments with two exits. Companies founded to commercialize UVA intellectual property, or are founded by current UVA faculty, staff, students, clinicians, and researchers are all eligible for funding. In certain cases, alumni-founded companies are also considered.

Funding from the LVG Seed Fund is typically the first money into the company and encourages venture capital, angel network, and corporate funding program syndicate partners. As an evergreen fund, any investment gains are recycled into additional opportunities for UVA technologies and new ventures.

“While returns signify impact, the impact our portfolio companies make on their customers – how the products enrich and improve lives through the identification, development, and commercialization of novel UVA discoveries, is a priority,” said Bob Creeden, Managing Director of the LVG Seed Fund & New Ventures. “As a Darden alumna, I know Kristin shares this vision with us, and we are so grateful to her for donating her time and insights to support the Fund.”

Kristin joins the committee with backgrounds in private and public investing, growth stage and buyout stage, and M&A and Restructuring advisories—all of which have afforded her “a holistic understanding of the investment ecosystem and of the value drivers (and detractors) within companies.” Additionally, her previous role at Perseus allowed her the opportunity to step in as CFO of a portfolio company. She describes this as an “invaluable” experience for her evaluation of companies, as it gave her a “whole new appreciation” for the management and operational teams that she will help put LVG Seed Fund dollars behind.

So what does Kristin have to say about joining the Investment Committee at LVG?

Q: Where do you see university funds like the LVG Seed Fund fitting into the broader world of venture capital?

A: There is such a need for early-stage capital, particularly outside of the traditional tech hubs.  Any vehicle that expands access to capital when companies are just getting off the ground is worthwhile, and to have one that can tap into the talent and ideas within the university seems like a win-win.

Q: What role do you think the alumni community plays in advancing UVA ideas and discoveries to the market?

A: I love that the UVA alumni community is so enthusiastic and I like to think that we are good about being “connectors” when called upon, raising up all UVA efforts and ideas. I’ve learned that you never know where that next phone call will take you, so having an alumni base that is eager to help out their own by pointing you in the right direction or making an intro could be the difference between commercialization or not.   

Q: What are you looking forward to as you join the LVG Seed Fund Investment Committee?

A: I’m looking forward to working with the other members who are so clearly passionate about UVA and about the Fund, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the UVA community in this way. 

Q: If you could return to Darden as a student today, would you join Bob’s Due Diligence in Seed Fund Investing course? What is one piece of advice you might have for his students?

A: If he’d let me in and promise not to cold call me, yes.  Bob has such a pragmatic approach to investing and I’d be thrilled to learn from him. 

We often think of diligence as a means to an end (invest or don’t), but I like to think of it as an educational journey.  We look at hundreds of deals a year and only invest in 2-4.  The diligence for one deal informs how I think about many other subsequent opportunities and helps build conviction which is so crucial.  No diligence is wasted diligence if you take the time to reflect on what you learned and record the metrics for future benchmarking.