Whitman Voices

Introduction

George Dawson ’08, Techstars Fund Controller, Speaking at Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries

George Dawson ’08, Techstars Fund Controller, Speaking at Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries

The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries (LaunchPad) is hosting George Dawson ’08, Techstars Fund Controller, for a “Fireside Chat” on Friday, November 1 at 4 p.m. at Bird Library. The event is free and open to the public. Dawson will be joining us from Techstar’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, where he leads the organization’s fund and investment finance team, which oversees 50+ venture capital funds and internal investment vehicles and a portfolio of approximately 4,000 investments. Fireside Chats are a series of intimate conversations held at the LaunchPad with innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs sharing their unique stories and insights. 

Dawson is responsible for all aspects of portfolio company valuations, accounting, investor reporting, operations, and fund structuring, and he plays a critical role in Techstars’ capital formation efforts. Prior to Techstars, Dawson was the Assistant Controller at JLL Partners, a mid-market private equity firm in New York. Earlier in his career, he worked at EY and KPMG, where he served large private equity, venture capital, hedge fund, mutual fund, and fund-of-fund clients. He is a licensed CPA in New York and graduated in 2008 from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management with a dual major in Accounting and Finance and a minor in Economics. 

At the Fireside Chat, Dawson will be discussing startup finance topics of interest such as valuation, incorporation, term sheet economics, cap tables, convertible notes, and other investment structures. He will also be sharing best practices for startups and common pitfalls. 

Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, has invested in several Syracuse University startups including SparkCharge, PowerSpike, and Visos. Techstars recently announced a $42M investment led by SVB Financial Group, the holding company of Silicon Valley Bank, with additional participation from existing investors, including Foundry Group. This funding will accelerate Techstars’growth to help more entrepreneurs succeed through seed-stage accelerators, global startup ecosystem activations, corporate innovation, and entrepreneur-focused events. 

Techstars consists of both an investment management business with $500 million in assets under management, as well as an operating business that is rapidly approaching $100 million in annual revenue. Techstars’ investment activity includes 49 accelerator programs in 35 cities across 16 countries, deploying $80 million into nearly 500 startups on an annual basis. The Techstars portfolio of 1,900 companies currently attracts an annual $2 billion in downstream investment from the venture capital industry. Techstars also invests in global emerging startup communities by operating approximately 1,000 annual Techstars Startup Weekend events in 600 cities across 120 countries to help surface and support future high growth companies.

“Being the largest and most active global seed investor requires a mindset and approach that is completely distinct from traditional venture capital,” said Techstars Co-CEO David Cohen. “Techstars has created and is scaling an entirely new type of early-stage private equity asset.”

About the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at Syracuse University Libraries:The Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars in Bird Library is Syracuse University’s innovation hub, connecting the entire University’s resource-rich ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs, inventors and creators. The program serves faculty, staff, students, and alumni across disciplines who are interested in innovation, invention, entrepreneurship, venture creation, and taking ideas from concept to commercialization. The program supports a key pillar of Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan to create an innovation ecosystem across the institution that prepares participants to be trailblazers in an entrepreneurial world.

Cristina Hatem