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A New York VC Spotlight: Bradley C. Harrison

 

bradley_harrison

Bradley Harrison is a venture capitalist, entrepreneur and former Army officer.  Before beginning his career in venture capitalism, the founder and managing partner of BHV and Scout Ventures was originally a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He attended from 1990-1994, whereupon he graduated in the top 1% of his class with a B.S.E. in Quantitative Economics and a concentration in Systems Engineering, and a Distinguished Honor Graduate award.  While a cadet at the academy, he also spent 4 years on the Rugby team.

He then went on to serve in the United States Army for 5 years, beginning his military career as a second lieutenant and retiring as a captain, while earning both Airborne and Ranger qualifications.  Harrison’s responsibilities included coordinating missions around the world, commanding combat troops and working on negotiations with non-government agencies, such as the UN and the Red Cross, as well as foreign governments.  Other positions he held include infantry battalion logistics officer, support platoon leader (ranked top lieutenant in Brigade 1 of 120), company executive officer (ranked top lieutenant in Battalion 1 of 31), rifle platoon leader and assistant chief of staff, G5, civil-military operations.

Upon his departure from the military, Harrison attended MIT and earned a M.B.A. in New Product and Venture Development from the Sloan School of Management.  During his time at the university from 1999-2001, Harrison was captain of the Sloan Flag Football team and Softball team, president of the MIT Sloan Golf Club, elected into the Sloan Student Senate and a member of the Venture Capital Club and the Media Club.

It was during this time that Harrison also worked as a partner at ITU Ventures, a seed stage venture fund, and helped launch a joint MIT-Harvard incubator.

For 3 semesters, he worked under adjunct professors Howard Anderson and Todd Dagres as the teaching assistant for the New Enterprises course, which taught PhD and Masters students how to launch businesses.

In June of 2002, he joined AOL as manager of the New Revenue group under Business Affairs and Development in Dulles, Virginia, before eventually moving to New York to become the director of Media Strategy and Development for the company.

As the manager of the New Revenue group, he reached a Memorandum of Understanding with Intel Corporation while working with AOL Networks Operations, AOL Broadband, AOL Time Warner Corporate Technology, Warner Music and Warner Brothers.  Harrison also created the first joint working group at AOL Time Warner that featured aspects of Time Inc., Warner Home Video, Warner Music, Time Distribution Services and AOL in order to produce a fully integrated product offering for potential partners.

In his directorial role in NYC, he developed, executed and managed all directional media initiatives for the Classifieds, Real Estate, Yellow Pages, Search and Careers sections.  He was also the liaison between the Interactive Marketing team and the Product and Program divisions for the company’s publishing platform.  As the liaison, he provided strategies for new advertising products.  In 2004, he was elected as a representative of the Interactive Marketing division while working on a Product and Programming Strategy Development project.

During his time at AOL, Harrison co-authored, filed and received 3 patents with his boss, Edmund Fish, pertaining to search, personalization and geo-tagging:

  • Search enhancement system and method having rankings, explicitly specified by the user, based upon applicability and validity of search parameters in regard to a subject matter (United States Patent 7,467,232; December 16, 2008 Co-inventor with Edmund J. Fish).
  • Search enhancement system with information from a selected source (United States Patent 7,640,232; December 29, 2009, Co-inventor with Edmund J. Fish).
  • System and method patent for general search parameters having quantized relevance values that are associated with a user (United States Patent 7,739,408; June 15, 2010, Co-inventor with Edmund J. Fish).

His work with AOL ended in June of 2004 when he became vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Distribution for WhenU.com, a contextual advertising network.  While at WhenU, he was responsible for all business development activities and held P&L responsibility for all distribution partnerships.

In September of 2006, he left the company to found and become managing partner of his own venture firm, BHV (Brad Harrison Ventures), focused on media and content distribution hubs.  The firm is a certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.  Typically investing in 10-15 startups at $50K-$250K a year, companies in the firm’s portfolio include Signpost, Bespoke Post, Olapic and Internet Media Labs.

In 2009, he founded and became managing partner of Scout Ventures, a seed venture fund, which focuses on companies in media, entertainment and technology markets.  Startups in the current portfolio include Sverve and bContext.  In July of 2013, BHV became Scout Ventures.

Outside of his work as a venture capitalist, Harrison’s involvement in the startup and entrepreneurial communities includes being an active participant with the Columbia Business School Greenhouse Program, as well as having served as an executive mentor at Columbia Business School for the Launching New Ventures course with Brendan Burns, Adjunct Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship.

VC Firm:

Founder and Managing Partner at Scout Ventures (Founded in 2009)
Founder and Managing Partner at BHV (Founded in 2006 and became Scout Ventures in 2013)

Sector Focus:

Consumer Internet, Digital Media, Entertainment, Lead Generation, Mobile, Social Commerce, Social Media, E-Commerce, Tech.

Selected Investments:

Winners:

Blackbook sold to Vibe Holdings for an undisclosed amount
GateGuru sold to TripAdvisor for an undisclosed amount

Boards:

GateGuru

Expertise Areas:

Business Development, Strategic Planning, Strategic Partnerships, Negotiations, Distribution, Contextual Advertising, Professional Networking, Private Equity, Entrepreneurship, Military Experience, Digital Media.

Blogs, Twitter & Websites:

Twitter
Scout Ventures

Memorable Quotes:

On what makes a good founder:  “Good founders know how to communicate with their teams and their investors.”

On the importance of strong listening skills:  “Great entrepreneurs know how to listen.  They know how to bring in all of their advisors, they know how to bring in business consultants, they know how to bring in their developers and they know how to not talk all the time, but sit there and listen and then be able to analyze what the real information is.”

On how combat patience can be applied to building startups and products/services:  “You have all of these different pieces of your business—your marketing, your development—all of these different aspects, and a lot of entrepreneurs want to rush through to get to that minimum viable product.  Sometimes, you need to just listen a little bit more, take a deep breath and then move forward.”

On the best ways to get introduced to venture capitalists:  “A referral, AngelList, LinkedIn or meet in person at an event.”

On what makes a true advisor:  “We get real value from advisors that put in time without equity – but some entrepreneurs misrepresent ‘advisor’ roles.”

On why acqui-hiring is done:  “It seems like they [companies] want the talent to prove themselves, and also to eliminate the competition from solid engineers that might be a threat.”

On the value of using social media:  “Just like LinkedIn and Facebook, your social media is another way to basically have a different audience.”

On how to target a niche audience on social media:  “Social media is about an engaging conversation, and that conversation has to be two-ways.  You have to seek out the people that you want to engage, and you have to understand what drives their hot buttons and start conversations around that so that they get excited and then they’ll reach out to you because they’ll start following you, as well.”

On what to consider when deciding on real estate expansion for your business:  “The biggest things are density of population around the area, and a population that matches the demographic that you want to sell to.  A lot of people can’t afford to open up on Fifth Avenue or Madison Avenue, but there are a lot of other, great spots that you can find in major, metropolitan areas that have this same type of foot traffic.”

On how to find the right locations for expansion:  “You have to find a local broker that understands your business, your retail space and where you might be successful.”

Click for more Venture Capitalists in New York.

 

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About the author: Jennifer Mottola

Jennifer recently received her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College, where she was fiction editor of the school’s literary journal, Inkwell.  She is currently a copy-editing intern for AlleyWatch.

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