Mele says cash only part of a good VC partner
August 7, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Sam Mele is looking
for serious money. The founder and CEO of Firm58 wants $6 million
in Series A funding to grow his 17-month-old software venture.
But money alone is not enough. Mele wants a venture firm that
can be a business partner.
can find money in a lot of places, but we're looking for more,"
says Mele, 39. "We're looking for someone who can help us
with leverage in our industry."
Mele's ideal venture
firm must have a top reputation for helping companies grow. He
wants a firm that knows the financial services and securities
industry. He wants an organization that will mesh culturally with
his team at Firm58.
Mele is a St. Charles
native and University of Illinois engineering grad who grew up
working summers at Goldberg Brothers, a boutique clearing firm
where his father was managing partner. He learned the ins and
outs of back-office financial transactions processing.
He spent 10 years at
Oracle and six years at Ariba before returning to Chicago to try
his hand as a tech entrepreneur. He launched Firm58 to capitalize
on the opportunity to help trading and brokerage companies smoothly
"There's a large
opportunity in the post trade management space due to the change
in trading from open outcry to computer-based trading," Mele
His software puts all
the back office information at management's fingertips. "We
manage all assets, whether they are fixed income, foreign exchange,
futures or equities. It's a cross asset application," Mele
He already has raised
$2.5 million in a seed stage round. He's looking for venture funding
to mine the market demand he expects for his product.
Mele currently has
two clients, a trading firm in Chicago and a day trading organization
in New York, but he knows he needs to expand. He has 17 employees
at his offices at 656 W. Randolph overlooking Haymarket Square.
University of Chicago
entrepreneurship professor Waverly Deutsch is a Firm58 advocate.
Deutsch says, "Sam has great entrepreneurial energy and vision.
He put together a solid team, and has proven, on a small scale,
that Firm58's approach can add value in the trading back office.
definitely help the company take their platform model to a larger
scale," he said.
Mele assembled an experienced
board. He recruited retired Bristol-Myers Squibb CIO Jack Cooper,
Ariba and Oracle software sales management alum Mike Hills and
Ariba co-founder and CFO Ed Kinsey.
Mele says, "Kinsey
led Ariba's 1999 IPO, which was one of the most successful in
Now Mele wants to add
the right VC to the team.
Mele offers this advice
to fellow entrepreneurs on picking board members and financial
backers: "You spend a lot of time with these folks. You want
to make sure, both on and off the field, you get along."
Good thinking Sam.
More than 1,000 friends
and members of Chicago's tech community turned out last Tuesday
at a memorial service honoring Mark Gordon and his wife, Shelley,
who died in a tragic home fire on July 29.
Mark Gordon was managing
partner of Gordon & Glickson, the premier Chicago tech law
firm. Under his guidance, the firm merged last January with McGuireWoods,
where he chaired the tech practice.
Gordon's death was
a sad loss for Chicago's tech community. He was instrumental in
the founding of Diamond Technology Partners and was on the board.
He also served on the boards of Kanbay, the Economic Club, the
Commercial Club and the Rehab Institute.
Gordon was a well-respected
go-to guy who helped Chicago's tech entrepreneurs and corporate
execs find their way. He was always willing to pitch in to help
grow the community.
He'll be missed.
Palmisano to speak
Executives Club Chairman
Jim Tyree snagged IBM CEO Sam Palmisano to keynote the group's
April 2007 luncheon. It will be a rare Chicago public appearance
for the IBM top exec, and a coup for Tyree.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.