Declan Zidar joins the TechNexus Venture Collaborative team. Declan has worked at Amazon specifically with intrapreneurship efforts to launch Amazon Care, he also co-founded The Chicago Capital Podcast with Matt Castellini, interviewing innovators, founders, and industry peers on relevant news and trends happening in the Chicago startup scene.
I sat down with Declan to learn more about his career history, what made him interested in joining TechNexus, and discuss his current role supporting strategy and venturing efforts for our corporate partners as well as portfolio support.
Josue Ortiz: Tell me about your career background? How did you get to where you are today?
Declan Zidar: I started my career in a Finance Rotation Program at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. I got to work in a few different job functions across multiple businesses including Studios, Payments, CapEx, and Seller Services. After graduating from the program, I worked on a small Finance team focused on launching Amazon Care. This experience gave me a behind-the-scenes look at incubation within a large tech company, as well as what it takes to operate a startup.
JO: Why were you interested in joining TechNexus Venture Collaborative?
DZ: My time with Amazon Care spurred my interest in early-stage companies and resulted in the birth of the Chicago Capital Podcast. Throughout 2021, I worked with Matt Castellini from Alumni Ventures to interview founders and investors with ties to the Chicago area. Despite learning about a new VC each week, I hadn’t quite heard of anything like venture collaboration at TechNexus. After doing some research, I was sold by the unique model and the incentive alignment it creates for all parties involved in the ecosystem.
JO: Tell me about the specific focus of your new role?
DZ: As a part of the ventures team, I collaborate with corporate partners to define and refine strategic focus areas for venture-enabled growth, discover and do due diligence on new opportunities for venture investment, and support the existing venture portfolio to accelerate business growth.
Initially, I’ll be spending time focused on Autonomous Tech, Connectivity, Electrification, Shared Mobility, Clean Tech, and Sustainability.
JO: How does your background fit into this new endeavor?
DZ: Amazon has established a culture of innovation. During my 3.5 years there, I spent time alongside some of the best innovators in the world, who were creating products and services at incredible speeds. I saw first-hand what successful intrapreneurship can bring to a large corporation. Additionally, my work on the podcast has given me an appreciation for the background and journey of each and every founder. It has urged me to get involved on the investor side and use my early career experience to help out in any way that I can.
TechNexus has a lot of momentum, especially after the recent announcement of the partnership with Thor Industries. I’m looking forward to working with them and building out our portfolio of companies. Ironically, I also happened to be an Energy Studies Minor at the University of Notre Dame, so there should be a lot of overlap with my current investment focuses as well.
To read more about Declan, visit the TechNexus team page.
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