Having been thinking of forming a group in Park City for some time, we finally got a time where some of us could get together. It wasn't that easy and we finally resorted to a 'if you can make it' strategy.
This was the group:
Barry Hobbs - Barry is someone that I like more every time I interact with him. (I've been out to his house in Heber where he has 40 acres (no mule) and bought a few tons of hay for my daughter and wife's horses.) Barry moved up here from Southern California a few years ago to get out of his probable future resting place at Forest Lawn. Barry's had an interesting career as both a VC and CEO. Interestingly, Barry and Robert know many of the same people and Barry evidently saw a pitch of Williams when he'd been raising money for a previous company in the 90s. Small world.
Robert Kibble - Mission Ventures: Robert, an Englishman, seems to have had the longest history since he was the lead investor in a company call Bay Area Networks. Robert has a cabin up here in PC so he can fly his plane up here and ski. I don't think I'm overstepping any boundaries in saying that Robert's got the longest VC resume of anyone in the group.
Peter Vitulli - CEO of Sciona, a consumer facing genomics testing company out of Boulder. Peter also lives in PC full time and commutes to Boulder weekly. I'll be interested in finding out if any of the CO readers of this blog happen to know him. Peter has what the group consensus was possibly the most difficult job on earth: CEO of a company with nine board members who are all investors in the company. This doesn't seem to have phased Peter to much as he was smiling most of the night.
Clint Carnell - VP for a medical company Thermage: A device company in the cosmetic medical space. (My company Surface is a big user of Thermage.) Clint and I hit it off and we're the ones that put this group together. Clint was the gracious host of the meeting and it couldn't have been a better venue. Clint's been involved with a number of turn-arounds with Thermage being the most recent. While I don't know how much credit to give Clint for Thermage, since he came on board that company's actually making money and is building a much better reputation. Clint's certainly a boon to the group and I can see that he's someone I would actively seek to work with.
William Borghetti - On his (fifth?) startup Send Side Networks, William seems to be the groups entrepreneur in residence and I find myself agreeing with him completely regarding his views with the state of startups in Utah. While it takes only a small amount of wine get Williams views of the Utah capital markets and the way they work, I couldn't agree more with his views. Barry, in a later conversation I had with him, referred to William as a fighter pilot, just add gas and he goes. (He was referring to this in a startup way and it was entirely complimentary.) William's also philosophically inclined to give back which I find refreshing. He's got some good policies including buy-me-lunch-and-I'll-tell-you-stuff, and no-need-to-call-in-on-powder-days.
There were three others who were out of town and couldn't make it back to Park City mid-week.
The meeting was hosted by Clint up at the Pete Dye clubhouse in Promontory. Clint, Peter, and Robert all live or have second homes there. If you're unfamiliar with Promontory, it's a Park City community that will be tipping the one billion dollar mark when completed. It's quite nice. (My wife's chief complaint is that the seven million dollar equestrian center supposedly only has one horse in it.)
The room in which we met is 'men only', which surprised me somewhat ( no cigars or smoking jackets). Clint found that out when he reserved the room and they asked if any 'ladies' would be attending the meeting. Clint exceeded my expectations and set the standard high since we had a dedicated staff of two (men) for the evening and one of the appetizers which was some sort of wild boar. I guess that 's what comes from being in sales, you've got to set the stage.
After we'd dispensed with the customary round-robbin introductions, Clint and I spoke for no longer than two minutes about our ideas for forming some kind of investment group or vehicle in PC. There was a general consensus that UT could benefit from some additional resources and funding sources for entrepreneurs who came with high quality deals. William, having raised almost 100 million dollars in VC money (I think none of it in UT) was especially salient on this point.
Robert expressed a great deal of surprise with who was there and told Clint and I that he had expected a group of 'Dentists' which I both understood, and thought was quite funny. He also gave us an A++ which, even in England, has got to be top-notch.
I think there is going to be some movement here and sooner rather than later.