Another year has passed, so like many of you, I’m reflecting on what went well, what didn’t and how I’d like to focus my time for 2016. As I review 2015, the events that brought me greatest joy stand out. Whether it was the IPO video blog series, or the Angel investment video series, or working with entrepreneurs and students at the University of Washington, I find that one theme has become clear to me – I am happiest when mentoring entrepreneurs.

With that in mind, a portion of 2016 will be include mentoring entrepreneurs in a more structured way.  In early January, I will announce 3 entrepreneurs who will join me in San Francisco for a month of intense mentorship.  I call it Neal’s Running Start. I’m bringing entrepreneurs from various corners of the world to Silicon Valley so they can learn more about Silicon Valley funding, strategies and ways of doing business. I won’t take equity in these companies or ask for a piece of the pie.  I’m merely committing time and energy to give them a running start with their businesses, because working with entrepreneurs feeds my soul.

I hope Harry Marshall will also be back in 2016 to help with the Running Start program.  Harry was the original mentee.  Though Harry is British, he is living in Spain and came to Bay Partners for three months to learn about the VC process.  He took his lessons back to Spain with him and totally changed how he operated his company.  Today, his company is thriving and growing faster than he anticipated.

His time with Bay Partners in 2013 was what really inspired me to start this program.  Harry is still a fellow with Bay Partners and has been an integral part of selecting new companies for angel investment consideration as well as selecting the final candidates for Neal’s Running Start.  Harry even came to our winery in Italy this autumn for the stomping of the grapes.  That mentorship experience has grown into an important collaboration for me, and I look forward to fostering more long-term relationships with entrepreneurs in the coming year.  Watching them grow and learn is a bit like watching your child grown up.  It’s exhilarating to feel part of their process.

Certainly there were other successes to celebrate for Bay Partners.  We had two IPOs this year and we have two funds that are continuing to flourish and offer great returns.  Bay’s X and XI were once again ranked in the top quartile of the funds in their vintage by Cambridge Associates, and of course we are very proud of the results.  But even those results are the culmination of a lot of time spent with the founders of these companies and helping them find success through the highs and lows of running a company.

As we bring another year to a close, I’m excited for the year ahead and for the mentorship opportunities that await. I wish you all much joy, happiness and continued learning experiences in the year to come. I will continue to keep you updated here on the blog and hope you will share your thoughts and ideas as we go.

Happy new year, everyone!