Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Mark Suster

Partner , GRP Partners

I grew up in Northern California and was fortunate enough to have computers around my house and school from a young age. In fact, in high school in the mid-eighties I sold computer software and taught advanced computers. Luckily I found this Venn Diagram that describes the correct intersection of “Geek” as being somebody with brains and obsession but not with social ineptitude. I was also the guy in high school who sold custom t-shirts and threw keg parties. I combined these passions in university by becoming social chairman and then president of my fraternity while redesigning our accounting system with Lotus 1-2-3 macros. Which frat I was in doesn’t matter since I never gave it a second thought after college.

When I was graduated I joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in Los Angeles to build computer systems for large corporations. I focused mostly on computer networking but had stints with programming, database design and then system modeling and testing. Yes, I programmed in COBOL and used DB2 and CICS. Yes, that means I’m older than a lot of you but our shit still had to work! In 1994 when most of my friends were leaving system integration to start companies in Silicon Valley I chose a different path. I transferred within Accenture to their technology center of excellence in Sophia Antipolis, France and lived in Antibes and then Cannes. No, this didn’t suck. I got to work all over Europe including a long stint in Rome as well as posts in Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary and Spain.

Accenture paid for my MBA at University of Chicago and I got to work for a three year period of time as a “strategy consultant,” which meant I became a blackbelt in PowerPoint and Excel. Actually, I worked on a lot of really interesting projects including working on the original Internet Strategy project for the head of Internet & Multimedia at British Telecom as well as a board-level eCommerce strategy project for Sony in Tokyo, Japan, where I lived for 6 months.

I started my first company in 1999 and was headquartered in London. We were a SaaS platform for large-scale engineering & construction projects including the London Underground, Thames Water, BNP Paribas and all of the top German construction firms. We had offices in 7 countries and I personally traveled to India to help establish our “captive” development center in Pune.

I left this company in 2005 and sold it to a publicly traded French services company. I moved home in 2005 and founded my second company, Koral, in San Mateo (I lived in Palo Alto). We sold this company to where I became VP Product Management. This company now forms what is known as Salesforce Content.

I joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner. I focus on early-stage technology companies – usually looking at Series A or seed investments.