Jeff Wallance

Jeff Wallace


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Keynote Speaker/Startup Advisor

Jeff Wallace – Minimum Viable Traction

“I don’t invest in individuals, I invest in businesses.”


Jeff is a long-time Bay Area resident who works with global startup ecosystems, including governments, corporations & startup accelerators/entrepreneurs, to help catalyze startup environments & create a bridge to Silicon Valley. He is an Adjunct Instructor at UC Berkeley and is co-founder of Silicon Valley in Your Pocket, a global virtual startup accelerator, serving 100s of companies across 23+ countries. He is co-founder & former President of Batchery, an incubator for seed stage startups. He is an active angel investor with equity positions in 150+ companies and an active advisor & investor at Berkeley SkyDeck. He is an Executive Board Member for the Rutgers Business School Road to Silicon Valley Program (RSVP). Previously, he worked at Cognizant & Brillio as founder & Global Head for Mobility & UX practices. He is a frequent keynote speaker at global tech & startup events. He holds a BA in Economics/Finance from Rutgers College & an MBA from UC Berkeley.



Jeff Wallace

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Well it kind of sets us up for a great conversation. I feel like we’ve already started so we’re just going to keep it rolling but thank you very much Jeff for having and joining us today. I’m always excited to meet another investor and learn a lot from you and today I think we’re going to get that for sure. So why don’t we start off   by maybe giving us a little bit more about yourself, your background, where you’ve come from, where you’re at and then we’ll jump further into the chats that we’re already having.

That sounds great. So first off thank you for having me on, I always enjoy meeting new people like yourself, exactly the same sentiment. My background, so I’m originally from the East Coast of the States and I grew up in New Jersey, I worked in Manhattan on Wall Street after my undergraduate college degree which was in finance. So I was more of a numbers quantitative guy, economics and finance. And then I decided after a few years doing that that I wanted to come out and get an MBA, and I thought let me I grew up on the East Coast, and went to school in the east coast, let me try the west coast. So I thought i’d do a two-year stint out here, I did my MBA at Berkeley and 100% expectations of returning upon graduation to the east coast, and to my family, and my career and that was 30 years ago this year. So I did not go back. (Inaudible) I kind of yeah (inaudible) exactly quickest 30 years. I kind of fell in love with the well first and foremost, the weather is wonderful here in California. I’m a spring and fall kind of guy on the East Coast and that’s kind of 12 months of the year out here but even more importantly the business environment around entrepreneurialism and the energy of the startup ecosystem was very attractive to me, the innovation ecosystem I should say back then. I started my career in management consulting after graduate school, working mostly with large corporate fortune 250, fortune 500, type com clients. And then about I don’t know just shy of five years into that career I heard someone say,  “those who can – do, those who cannot consult.” And I was a consultant. And so I thought well maybe I should not be doing this, maybe I should go put my entrepreneurial aspirations to test and I had studied entrepreneurial, entrepreneurship strategy and technology in my MBA program so in 95 I launched into a serial entrepreneurial journey which carried me through 2011 when my last entrepreneurial venture was building enterprise mobility solutions for large corporations and my business, colleague business partner and I just had different views of the world. He had come out of the large enterprise space as a very prominent executive and we just had different perspectives I should say and so I was fascinated by the mobile enterprise space or the enterprise mobile space but I knew I wanted to do something different than what I was doing in my startup and I got recruited back out of being a startup guy into the corporate world and I worked for a large company called Cognizant, ironically the largest company that i’d ever, to this day have worked for. They have close to a quarter of a million employees. And I was hired in to start and manage the global enterprise mobility practice so it felt very entrepreneurial and it was nice to have resources. But after just shy of two years after almost two years I decided I like to say they reminded me why I like working with startups and less bureaucratic organizations and I jump back out of that environment and I am now the co-founder of a couple of startup accelerators and my objective was to start something and build something that was there for entrepreneurs in a way that I wished existed when I was in my entrepreneurial journey and so that’s what i’ve been doing. I run one of the entrepreneurial or one of the startup accelerators, excuse me that i’m the co-founder of the one here on my background Silicon Valley in your pocket, it’s a virtual startup accelerator for global founders and then the other one is locally based here I was a co-founder with many business partners locally based here in the Berkeley Area and we’ve had, we’re on our 11th cohort in the local one and silicon valley in your pocket runs a rolling cohort. So we don’t actually have traditional start and stop times for cohorts, it’s a rolling cohort. We’ve had over 100 companies come through that one from over 23 countries and we have a partnership with UC Berkeley they actually have a Spanish-language version of Silicon Valley in your pocket and they launch that across latin America right at the beginning of the COVID crisis. So they we’ve had one full cohort go through and we’ll see where it goes from here
once we reach the postcode world.

Wow that’s amazing and it sounds like a very well designed career and it’s
brought you back to entrepreneurship each time so that’s a great, a great story.

I do keep finding my center. I keep finding my center in entrepreneurialism so..

Oh that’s good. I think it’s the hustle. It’s figuring out how you fit into the hustle and just keep it real and moving it forward so that’s amazing.


So you touched on a couple of things and the one that kind of really stood out for me the most outside of obviously all these great accomplishments you have and I’d love to dive into a bit more about how you structured and you went through being a co-founder. Because I think that there’s a big shift in the when investors go in there’s a group of investors that only like to invest in co-founded companies, and then there’s others that just say you know what I like a great idea in a business and we’ve kind of mixed in both in our investments. But it’s fascinating how much I’m really starting to see there’s a bigger win, we’ll edit this out —  but there’s a bigger win with the co-founders side. That there’s really a lot more gun power being brought to the war and I’m curious as to what made you think of doing it this way and what your feelings and outcomes were during that process.

Yeah, you know for me it’s even something I speak to in the curriculum if you will of silicon valley in your pocket around forming your entity. I often have one slide I think the title is something like going solo is a no-no, something like that. Meaning being a solopreneur is not going to fly very smoothly with investors. You can have the greatest idea but if you