A New York VC Spotlight: Jeanne Sullivan



From founding principal of StarVest Partners to being named by Forbes as one of the “5 Most Powerful Women Changing the World in VC and Entrepreneurship,” Jeanne Sullivan is one of the most influential women in the industry and a New York treasure.

Sullivan began her career in advertising and marketing in the ‘70s at Bozell Worldwide. From 1980 to 1990, she worked for AT&T doing product management and business-to-business marketing. She also became product director for an internal venture business unit at Bell Labs. From there, she moved to Olivetti Ventures, where she was Managing Director until 1997.

StarVest Partners was Sullivan’s next, and current, firm. Established in 1999, StarVest Partners funds technology-enabled business services. Some notable investments include Take the Interview, The Receivables Exchange, RetailNext, Host Analytics, Switchfly and RAMP.

Last year came the nod from Forbes.

Sullivan also helped to found the predecessor to the New York Angels:, the New York New Media Association’s Angel Investors Program.

Sullivan holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law. She is also a member of the Leadership Council of the College of Media for the University of Illinois.

VC Firm:

General Partner, StarVest Partners (Founded in 1999)

Sector Focus:

SaaS, Internet marketing, e-commerce, data and content, identity and security management


Accept Software (Acquired by Artemis International)
Connected (Acquired by Iron Mountain for $117 million)
iCrossing (Acquired by Hearst Corp. for $325 million)
Insurance.com (Acquired by QuinStreet for $35.6 million)
MessageOne (Acquired by Dell for $155 million)
Travora Media, Inc. (Acquired by MediaShift, Inc.)


New York Venture Capital Assocation

Blog, Twitter and Websites:


Expertise Areas:

Strategy, technology landscape, industry trends, “go to market” plans

Memorable Quotes:

On expanding the definition of “tech”: “The definition of ‘tech’ is actually expanding all by itself, and here’s a great example. Look at the fashion world. … What’s happened to fashion is there’s been a convergence with technology, certainly online e-commerce. People now are buying things online without hesitation, whereas 10 years ago, even five, great hesitation. So all of a sudden, your traditional fashion company is also a tech company.”

On how to get an investor: “What I love to share is, you too can get the wallets out of our pockets, but you have to know how to do it. Again, there’s that same theme about knowing what to know. You’ve got to be able to figure out how to do this. Otherwise you will get skinned.”

On why investments don’t happen: “I really believe the problem is there’s a major gap between understanding what to do and making it happen. The gap between education around what to do, either to get the wallets out of our pocket or an angel’s pocket to create that company.”

On why people can’t find jobs: “Let’s say you’re looking for a job. You don’t want to build a company. You want to work in a great company. I have learned people have no clue how to even get a job. I find that over and over again. Even from experience, people who are out in the workforce, they don’t understand how to take their own skill set and figure out how to jump into a great company, how to network.”

Click for more Venture Capitalists in New York.

About the author: Emily Haile

Emily recently graduated from Tennessee Tech University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in public relations and digital media. She was a writer and photographer for the school’s student-run magazine, Eagle Eye, and newspaper, The Oracle. She was also the copy editor for both. She is currently a copy editing intern for AlleyWatch.

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