Note from NVCA: As part of NVCA’s VentureForward initiative, this ‘Spotlight on Rising Stars in VC’ blog series showcases individuals in the venture industry from different backgrounds and across the workforce to share experiences, spotlight their journeys and successes, and educate the next generation of people considering a career in venture capital.
Spotlight on Rising Stars in VC: Jill Raderstorf
Name: Jill Raderstorf
Location: I am originally from Omaha, NE and lived there through college. I relocated to Columbus, OH for my first professional role and 10 years later, I now call Columbus home.
Years of VC experience: I have been in the venture capital space since 2017.
Position description: I currently work at Ohio Innovation Fund, an early stage venture capital firm based in Columbus, OH. I am a Partner at Ohio Innovation Fund. As Partner, I manage our due diligence efforts, oversee portfolio management and work directly with our portfolio companies on strategic projects. In addition, I manage our internship program and contribute to our investor relations efforts.
Q. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an investor of some sort. I remember distinctly trying to charge my little brother interest when he borrowed money from me at the ripe age of 10. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of value creation, both in monetary and non-monetary ways.
Q. How did you get into the VC industry and what were some pivotal programs, events, and/or organizations that helped pave the way?
I have a background in finance and after a few years decided to go back to school to pursue my MBA. I knew I wanted to make a shift into a more entrepreneurial career track, but also knew I wanted to stay in finance in some way. I took all of the entrepreneurship and strategy classes that were offered in my program. One class in particular, called Entrepreneurial Finance, really dug into to basics of angel investing and venture capital. This helped me solidify my interest in the field.
The next year my firm, Ohio Innovation Fund, had an offering for a summer internship. I applied and luckily got the job. I jokingly call myself Intern #1. I was able to leverage that internship experience into a permanent position. My point: never turn down an opportunity to get into VC! It is hard to break in, so take advantage of any openings available to you.
Q. Which jobs, internships, or classes gave you the experience you needed for your current job in venture capital?
I spent the first 9 years of my career in the financial services sector, both as a bank examiner with the FDIC and later as an underwriter at JP Morgan’s Private Bank. Both of these roles helped solidify my skills as an analyst as well as develop the ability to discern strong deals from weaker opportunities. Making decisions on loan grades as an examiner prepared me well for making quick decisions on investment opportunities for our Fund.
As a senior bank examiner, I spent much of my time with the executive teams of financial institutions and in board meetings. These opportunities helped me develop strong communication and interpersonal skills that are critical in my current role.
I also believe my former positions in risk management help me ask the right questions when looking at a deal. It is just as important to understand what the information isn’t telling you as it is to understand what is being presented.
Q. What career advice would you give to your younger self?
If I could give my younger self career advice it would be to fail more often. Take advantage of your youth and focus on things that push you to your limits. Trust in your instincts and spend your time learning everything that you can- even if you fail you will learn so much more along the way than you will if you play it safe.
Also, never apologize for being young and inexperienced. See every stumbling block as an opportunity to grow and learn, and do not feel bad about asking questions
Q. What’s on the top of your bucket list?
I adore small, beautiful and efficient spaces and dream of having a vagabond year (or two) in my very own tiny house. My husband and I built a garage on our property a few years ago, so of course I also want to build my own tiny home before we set off on our travels.
In a perfect world, we would slow travel all of North America and South America, visiting friends along the way. I’d like to see all of the U.S. National Parks, experience the forests and mountains in Canada, and soak up the culture of South America and practice my Spanish!
Q. What impact do you hope to make on the venture capital industry?
I hope to introduce more people to the work that we are trying to do and why we do it. Venture capital, especially in the Midwest, is still considered a foreign asset class to many people. We need to improve awareness and understanding of the venture capital process so that we can develop and scale great companies, wherever they are located.