“In the Studio” welcomes a co-founder of a company which went public, a native Texan who studied engineering in Silicon Valley and business on the east coast, and who, upon returning to the Valley to begin investing, encountered a different path than he originally anticipated.
By now, everyone in the Valley knows or knows of Mike Maples, a co-founder of FLOODGATE. What they may not know, however, is how difficult it was, despite his success with Motive, the company he co-founded while in college and went public, to return to the Valley and embark on the next career he imagined for himself. Maples wanted to be a VC, so he was offered EIR positions at two firms, but never full-time employment. During this time, he also noticed a gap in the investment market between individual angel investors deploying their own money and larger, institutional venture capital firms, who wanted to write bigger checks. This experience gave Maples the idea for his investment firm, which is now FLOODGATE, to fill in the gap with a smaller institutional fund. Maples’ insights, company intuition, early-stage dealmaking abilities now speaks for itself, with early stage investments in companies such as Zimride (Lyft), Wanelo, Ayasdi, Weebly, Reputation.com, Playdom, Okta, ngmoco, Modcloth, IFTTT, digg, Chegg, BranchOut, Bazaarvoice, and many others. And, a little company called Twitter.
In this video, Maples and I discuss how he came back to the Valley after working in industry, how he had stints as an EIR with two large venture firms but wasn’t offered a full-time role, and how, as a result, he started angel investing which eventually led to the formation of Maples Investments, which today is FLOODGATE. This video would be of interest to any early-stage founder as well as any technology investor, given Maples’ track record of success. He also goes into detail about how he tactically started his investment fund.
Most notable to me in this video, however, is how humble Maples is, despite his successes. Around the 5:00 minute-mark in the talk, Maples actually chokes up for a second while recounting how it was founders who helped paved the way for his success. He frames his initial investments as being made possible by the graciousness of founders who let Maples into the rounds to participate. It’s become cliché for investors to attribute any of their successes to the work they do for their company, and yet Maples almost says the opposite, that it is really the entrepreneur who gives the investor the chance to begin with.