Will KohlerPartner. Menlo Park. Growth.
A partner at Lightspeed since 2014, Will joined the firm by recommendation of John Vrionis, his old friend and teammate from the varsity soccer team at Harvard. Will spent a brief period after college playing professionally after being drafted in the MLS (Major League Soccer), a fun fact his children still don’t believe.
“A large part of my early character development was playing competitive sports,” he says.
But by the age of 24, the economics major had put soccer on hold to pursue a career in technology. A cofounder of Pointe Communications, a facilities-based integrated communications provider, Will served as operations manager and helped the company grow to over $40 million in annual revenues. He maintains that the greatest lessons learned as an entrepreneur came after getting knocked down—and standing up again.
“It was my first exposure to raising capital versus investing,” he says. “During our journey, we interacted with investors across various stages—private equity, venture capital—and I was especially interested in VC.”
After the company was acquired, Will began his career in venture at Advanced Technology Ventures, then moved to Prism VentureWorks, where he led or supported investments in software and services, cloud computing, and digital media companies. He spent seven years there before joining Summerhill Venture Partners, where he led investments in cloud-based services and applications and SaaS solutions.
At Lightspeed, he works closely with entrepreneurs in the areas of SaaS solutions, financial technologies, and cloud-based services and applications. And as a former founder himself, he has a unique ability to empathize with entrepreneurs—to listen to their challenges and help them overcome them.
“Founders are rare,” he says. “They’re changing the world with their passion and vision, so I try to understand what their motivations are and predict how they’ll respond to the inevitable challenges ahead. I want to enable founders to lift their heads up from the day-to-day and look into the mirror, reminding them to see the future of their business.”
Of course, as the son of immigrants—his dad is from Austria and his mom is from Greece—he knows that nothing worth having comes easy. “Both my parents came to this country to get educated, and acclimating to the culture presented challenges they overcame,” he says. “They instilled in me a very strong work ethic.”