Managing the Vision Behind VisionTech Angels

Nov 04

Photograph by: John R. GentryTodd Saxton approaches his passion for endurance sports in the same way he approaches venture activities—as a long but rewarding journey mixing education, experimentation, discipline, and hard work.

Todd has started five Ironman distance triathlons (covering 140.6 miles by swimming, biking and running) and finished four. He enjoys ripping off 50 miles on his road bike in a single afternoon, then chasing it with a 10-mile run when in heavy training mode. Dos Equis may have the Most Interesting Man in the World, but #VisionTechAngels just may have one of the more fit on its Board of Advisors.

When not pushing himself to physical extremes, Todd is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and the Indiana Venture Faculty Fellow at the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. He accepted the position after earning a PhD in Business from the IU Kelley School and teaching at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Prior to this, the New Jersey native was a business consultant for six years in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Business consulting was great, but required an intense travel schedule. When my wife Kim and I found out we were expecting our first child, I decided to change careers. Education has always been in my blood, and a return to academia seemed inevitable. Teaching at the IU Kelley School of Business and working with entrepreneurs and early-stage investors as part of my outreach activities became my passion,” he explains.

Today, Todd and his wife Kim Saxton both are professors at the IU Kelley School of Business. He teaches strategy and entrepreneurship in a number of Kelley MBA programs, including one geared specifically for physicians, one of only a handful in the country. Todd’s research focuses on activities that help entrepreneurs navigate the complex early stages of venture development to be successful. Kim teaches marketing and is also involved in the venture community. Their daughters are now 20 and 24.

Todd first became aware of VisionTech Partners many years ago, when Managing Director Oscar Moralez spoke at the Venture Club of Indiana (Todd is a board member). Discovering a shared passion for angel investing and its importance in the venture ecosystem, Oscar invited Todd to serve on the VisionTech Partners Board of Advisors. He is now the chair.

“The role of the Board of Advisors is to help with the strategic direction of VisionTech Partners and VisionTech Angels. This is a very enthusiastic group and there’s wealth of what it can do—the board sometimes has to deliver a reality check and make sure VisionTech is true to its mission,” Todd said. “We need to be sure our activities support our primary strategic objectives—managing a strong pipeline of new investment opportunities, supporting and growing our angel group, and helping our portfolio companies be successful.”

A significant part of that mission is educating fellow Hoosiers on angel investing. Last July, VisionTech Partners and the IU Kelley School of Business co-sponsored the Innovation Showcase’s educational session on angel investing, attracting 300-plus attendees. The Innovation Showcase, which featured almost 75 entrepreneurial pitches, had some 850 attendees.

“People are very interested in starting companies and angel investing—but like an Ironman, it is a long and challenging journey” said Todd. “We’re here to help them.”