Earlier this week, Mark Suster – Partner at Upfront Ventures – made an interesting announcement about the future of the firm. The Houston Rapper Chamillionaire would be joining Upfront Ventures as the Entrepreneur in Residence. This is not just some publicity ploy either.
Suster, on his blog, described his personal experience with Chamillionaire. After hearing the H-Town rapper speak about social media and user engagement at a 2009 tech conference in L.A., Suster reached out and began a long relationship with Chamillionaire. Over time, Chamillionaire has become more and more active in the investment and startup world – he was one of the earliest investors in Maker Studios, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company last year. Suster began introducing Chamillionaire to some portfolio companies, and soon discovered he was a great adviser:
After seeing Chamillionaire interact with several entrepreneurs both at events and as an investor I started introducing him to startups in an advisory capacity. It always started the same way – a founder would ask for an intro because they figured he could help with promotion. And after one meeting they started asking for his advice about marketing, customer engagement, product design, monetization – whatever.1
After going back and forth on sever different ideas and possibilities, Suster, the Upfront Ventures team, Chamillionaire and Nsilo Reddick – Chamillionaire’s business associate and producer – decided to go all in. They came to this decision some time ago, but have yet to make it public. Suster explained this secrecy:
In a perfect world they [Chamillionaire and Nsilo Reddick] would just hang out in our offices, work on tech ideas, help us evaluate opportunities, attend our investment meetings and be thoughtful advising tech companies that come to meet us. But too many people know Chamillionaire so I didn’t want to have people start Tweeting about meeting him and leave people wondering why he’s hanging out with us. We had a bit of head turning last week already. So if you don’t know, now you know …2
- Mark Suster, Both Sides of the Table, “Here Are the Details About Upfront Ventures’ Newest EIR – @Chamillionaire,” 22 February 2015 ▲
- Ibid ▲