A New York VC Spotlight: Eliot Durbin of BOLDStart Ventures



Eliot Durbin is a General Partner at BOLDstart Ventures, a seed and early-stage investor focused on enterprise software and services.

Durbin got his start founding Templates.com, an online software portal marketing third party plug-ins for Adobe, Microsoft and the like, in 2000 as a junior at Loyola High School in New York City. The company went on to be acquired in 2002.

In 2006, Durbin became the Assistant Vice President at Permal Asset Management, a multi-billion dollar global fund of hedge funds.

Upon leaving Permal in 2008, Durbin threw his hat into the ring of venture capital, co-founding Penny Black Holdings LLC, which was focused on early investments in consumer, mobile, enterprise and media related technology ventures. He was also the managing director.

In April 2010, Durbin became a General Partner at BOLDstart, which he co-founded with Ed Sim.

Durbin received a BA from Georgetown University in 2006 and did post-graduate studies at Columbia University

VC Firms:

Co-founder and Managing Director at Penny Black Holdings LLC (founded in 2008, left in 2012)

General Partner at BOLDstart Ventures


GoInstant (acquired by Salesforce.com)
Rapportive (acquired by LinkedIn)
SpinBack (acquired by Buddy Media)
Blaze.io (acquired by Akamai)
Look.io (acquired by LivePerson)
ThinkNear (acquired by TelNav)
Anchor Intelligence (sold to Comscore)

Expertise areas:

Consumer, enterprise, mobile, financial, healthcare, and media related technology ventures

Social Media

Google Plus

Memorable quotes:

On making mistakes in order to grow: “You need to make a lot of mistakes as an investor to have some sort of a predictive capability to help your investments and make a thesis that can be adjusted over time.”

Again, on mistakes: “You can apply them throughout your career. You just need to make sure those early mistakes don’t kill your career.”

On his first investment, Sundia, calling him, telling him they only had 3 weeks of cash left after being hit by the 2008 recession: “It was my first investment, I was terrified…I went out and I learned about what a supply change was, I learned about lead times, replenishment rates, sourcing and distribution contracts and a cash flow cycle. Then I went back, and I said ‘Okay what’s the problem? They need money.’ Well, that’s a pretty simple answer, but I had to learn that the hard way. So, I replaced it with an equity-financing round. Sometimes you have to roll up the sleeves and sharpen the pencil.”

On doing diligence before investing: “You can do all the diligence you want, but if you’re not comfortable with the fact that crap is going to happen, it’s going to be a long road and you’re not going to last long. You create solutions as you go along and those solutions then apply themselves to other portfolio companies. You suddenly wake up one morning and you realize you’re seeing the same movie.”

On making things simpler: “Communicating with people, not hypothesizing or pontificating.”

About the author: Alexander Maykowski

Alexander Maykowski is a recent graduate of Marquette University, where he studied journalism and political science. He has an ardent interest in cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) and how they will shape the financial and global landscape in the future.

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