Today, in the heart of Silicon Slope’s Salt Lake City, Jeff Kearl stands as an example of business success. Kearl tackled challenges that would have otherwise made many a business person shy away. He was met with resistance and skepticism but continued to pursue his goals. His gamble paid off — achieving success in various industries, from logistics to fashion — proving what it took to build a brand from nothing and putting Utah firmly on the startup map.
Jeff Kearl, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, recently discussed his journey to successful investment in an interview with CEO.com; a journey that started with a tumultuous experience at vSpring and ultimately led to the formation of his own company, Logoworks.
Kearl's experience at vSpring taught him some essential lessons in the venture capital world, like the disproportionate rejection in fundraising and the effects of an unhealthy relationship between partners and within the venture capital fund. As a venture capitalist, Kearl saw many misguided investments resulting from "dysfunctional" partners and even saw quality investment opportunities passed up because of issues between partners in the fund.
This frustration encouraged Kearl to pursue something of his own, something that he could control and manage primarily as an entrepreneur. To accelerate his venture capital career, Kearl partnered with Morgan Lynch, a friend from college, to launch Logoworks. At the time, Logoworks was an innovative marketplace offering companies logo designs. It was achieved by farming out the creative brief to remote graphic designers and passing the creative back and forth for revisions via their software platform.
Kearl and Mike Levinthal approached Silicon Valley's best venture capital firms for fundraising; with the help of Kathy Schlein, a former Apple executive and Ted Schlein's sister, the two could arrange meetings with some of the most renowned VC funds. This began with Benchmark and Axle, followed closely by Kleiner Perkins. After an impressive showing of their five slides of logo designs, Benchmark partner Bob Cagle was enthused about the potential of Logoworks.
Though they were off to a successful start, the simple portfolio addition occurred when a college friend and entrepreneur, Rick Alden, approached Kearl for help. Alden hoped to produce headphones for snowboarders, but his plans needed a capital contribution to start the production. Kearl suggested he talk to Greg Warnock, partnering at vSpring. Warnock invested $250,000 and had no qualms about trusting Kearl's judgment. With that, Skullcandy was conceived.
Over the years, Logoworks and Skullcandy experienced massive growth and success. Working alongside other extraordinary leaders, Rick Alden and Jeremy Andrus, Kearl experienced a decade of rapid growth and product success. This culminated in the acquisition of Logoworks by Hewlett Packard and, for Skullcandy, a successful IPO shortly after that.
Though Logoworks and Skullcandy were revolutionary companies for the time, Kearl still longed for the ability to invest, so in 2013, he jumped at the chance to work with an early investor, Pelion Ventures Board. Alongside Blake Modersitzky, they created an MVP of a cloud-based SaaS platform to provide capital to small and medium-sized businesses. Since then, the two partners have become a beacon in venture capital, investing widely in small and medium enterprises throughout the tech and startup world.
The successes of both Logoworks and Skullcandy allowed Kearl to recharge in the venture capital world and continue his investment roadmap. As a venture capitalist, he's played an integral role in investments and, more recently, the groundbreaking deal that allowed Stance Socks to become the official on-court sock of the NBA.
Since entering the venture capital world in 2013, Kearl has come full circle – regularly investing in tech and startup companies throughout Utah, California, and the Bay Area, turning his entrepreneurial lessons into enlightened guidance for new startup leaders. With support from other brilliant entrepreneurs, Jeff Kearl has built a remarkable portfolio of investments that continue to revolutionize the tech and startup world.
The above article was written, edited, and reviewed with AI assistance by experienced CEO.com journalists and researchers to produce the most accurate and highest-quality information.