TechNexus Venture Collaborative is thrilled to welcome Phil Leslie to our team as Managing Director. Phil brings more than a decade of entrepreneurial experience in the technology sector. As a serial entrepreneur, Phil has founded several companies and serves on a handful of advisory boards.
Recently, I sat down with Phil to learn more about how he plans to leverage his wealth of past experiences to accelerate growth for our partners and portfolio ventures in his new role.
Josue Ortiz: Tell me about your career background? How did you get to where you are today?
Phil Leslie: I started my career as an engineer at Microsoft, first working on Windows 2000 but later focusing on mobile and embedded versions of the software. There I found myself surrounded by terrifically talented and driven colleagues from all disciplines and developed an appreciation for commercializing innovations at scale.
One of the most impactful lessons I learned in that era was around disruption and discontinuous innovation. Most companies are either disrupting an industry or being disrupted — and sometimes the winners and losers aren’t evident until many years later. I fell in love with being the disruptor and moved on from Microsoft to founding and operating early-stage companies where I felt I had the best chance of getting more “reps” at commercializing disruptive innovations.
Since then, I’ve enjoyed being a founder or operator at several early-stage companies.
As a Founder of ProOnGo in the early days of the app economy, I enjoyed unlocking the value of new smartphone capabilities to transform legacy expense reporting processes. We ultimately grew that firm to be the #1 expense reporting solution on Intuit’s App Center before selling the venture to The Neat Company.
As CEO of RIVS / interviewstream, I felt strongly that legacy interviewing processes were limiting the number and diversity of candidates being considered for open positions. We used technology to level the playing field for candidates to participate in interviews regardless of any logistical barriers that often arose with traditional, in-person interviews. After using our technology to facilitate over two million interviews, we sold the company to Clovis Point Capital.
I’m an advisor and operator at several other ventures helping companies like Havoc Shield, Passage Ticketing, and Pinnakl. Now, I’ve decided that I can have the most significant impact in this new role at TechNexus Venture Collaborative, where I’m empowering hundreds of entrepreneurs through a combination of capital and advice on a shared innovation journey that benefits customers, founders, and investors.
JO: Why were you interested in joining TechNexus Venture Collaborative?
PL: Two of the startups that were a big part of my career were in the TechNexus ecosystem — ProOnGo and RIVS / interviewstream. Both of those companies have since sold to acquirers. You could say that I went from being a huge fan of TechNexus as a founder/operator of companies to realizing that I should join the TechNexus team and stick around for the long haul.
JO: Tell me about the specific focus of your new role?
PL: At TechNexus, I focus much of my time on our AudioTech investments, an area where we’re one of the most active investors in the world. Officially my title is Managing Director, but we’re a dynamic team, and our titles matter less than the teamwork that it takes to help our portfolio companies and corporate partners excel.
JO: How does your background fit into this new endeavor?
PL: First, I fundamentally believe that ventures in the Venture Collaborative have an “unfair advantage” in that they often find themselves in deep relationships with our corporate partners. I’ve seen the pursuit of innovation from both the corporate lens and the startup lens, so I take special pride in helping to initiate those types of interactions to the benefit of all involved.
Second, the audio space, in particular, is ripe for innovation. My experience at Microsoft (where much of my work was in their audio and video stack) and at RIVS / interviewstream (where audio experiences were tremendous for leveling the playing field for remote interviews) opened my eyes to innovation yet to come in AudioTech.
I’m excited to do my part in helping innovative audio companies make their mark on the world.
To read more about Phil, visit the TechNexus team page.
Our team and the TechNexus ecosystem are consistently growing, and we’re always looking for talented candidates to join us. Check out the careers page or subscribe to our monthly newsletter to access job openings and opportunities within the innovation ecosystem.