CHAPTER 2 Getting In

“A bit of advice Given to a young Native American At the time of his initiation: As you go the way of life, You will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”

—Joseph Campbell

When Jan Garfinkle decided to be a venture capitalist (VC), she polished her resume and approached several early-stage venture funds. Every fund turned her down. Garfinkle had spent 20 years in various operational capacities and had cut her teeth primarily at two venture-backed cardiovascular device companies. A large publicly traded company acquired both these companies, leaving Garfinkle a bit richer, wiser, and hungrier. She joined these start-ups after the initial idea had been vetted and the strategic direction of the company was being crystallized.

Early in her career, Garfinkle joined Advanced Cardiovascular Systems (ACS) as an associate product manager; the company was seen as the forerunner in over-the-wire angioplasty—a technique that reopens narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart (coronary arteries) without major surgery. The founder of the company, John Simpson, once remarked, “When we started the company, there was no interventional cardiology device sector.”1 C. Richard Kramlich, founder of New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the world's leading venture capital firms with over $10 billion under management today, had then invested in Advanced Cardiovascular Systems. Kramlich once said of ACS, “The procedure was entirely noninvasive . . . the body ...

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