A charismatic and unstoppable leader in the Brooklyn startup scene, Charlie O’Donnell founded Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, a seed stage investment firm. As an experienced venture capitalist, investments he sourced include Refinery29, Chloe + Isabel, Backupify, and more.
What is your experience in climbing?
Only twice at BB because I’m uncomfortable with heights.
What motivates your work?
I really like feeling helpful and enabling others to succeed.
How do you find your inspiration?
I suppose I just kind of feel lucky, rather than inspired. I don’t need to be inspired to do what I do because I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do. To quote the banished Shoeless Joe Jackson, “I would have played this game for food money.”
What do you do when you get bored?
My days are filled to the brim, and I’m kind of a pretty boring person by nature, so my life way overindexes for excitement compared to what I’d be content with. I can’t think of the last time I was bored.
What did you want to be ‘when you grow up’?
Growing up in NYC, Wall Street loomed large, so I was drawn to investing early. My godfather gave me a few shares of IBM when I was born so I knew what the stock market was early.
At times, I’ve wanted to run career planning at a University, because what those folks do now mostly doesn’t work. They’re severely understaffed and you can’t get big chunks of students hired by Chase or PWC anymore. They need lots more individual attention and a means of using social media to research, learn and brand their own way. That’s just not taught.
What inspires you about Brooklyn?
Network density and diversity.
It’s the kind of place where you can get help with a retail food investment from the guy you started a free waterfront kayaking program with who started a brewery and the CFO of a venture fund who is dating someone who started a BBQ joint, and then get an investment in your fund from a top female poker player who got intro’d to you from a woman who runs a bakery.
Oh, the participants of that kayaking program, btw… Probably over 50% minority participants. Try all that in the Valley.
What’s the wildest pitch you’ve ever heard?
Probably one of those Rick Ankiel specials that thumped the backstop in the playoffs on a fly.
Did you mean startup pitches?
Any of the ones I forward to Josh Kopelman with just the note “Yours,” because that’s what he would do to me when I worked for him–send me the bad stuff.
What is advice you would give to perfect one’s elevator pitch?
Never cut yourself short by giving one. Introduce yourself personally well enough to memorable and follow up by email with the business details.
Meet Charlie in the flesh! He’ll be sharing his experiences at Startup Climbing on Wednesday, February 24th at 7PM. For more information, visit BrooklynBoulders.com/startup.