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In this post Dea WilsonLifograph founder, is doing an interview with Bill Draper, VC at Draper Richards.

Bill Draper is the founder of Sutter Hill Ventures and served as a government official under Ronald Reagan. His father, William Draper Jr., founded the first VC firm on the West Coast in 1959. Bill is also the founder of Draper Richards, a VC fund focused on early stage startups.

Sutter Hill’s investments include LSI Logic, Nvidia, FeedBurner, Glassdoor and Shutterfly.

Bill also published a book on startupsThe Startup Game: Inside the Partnership between Venture Capitalists and Entrepreneurs

Draper Richards' portfolio companies include OpenTable, Overture (sold to Yahoo), Skype and Hotmail (both sold to Microsoft).

To follow Bill's timeline and see how you might be connected to him join Lifograph - The Wiki of People.

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INTERVIEW:

List 3 things people don’t know about you.

1) the only course I flunked at Yale was Accounting

2)  I asked my wife of 59 years to marry me three days after meeting her on a boat trip to Europe

3) I won a lifesaving medal for rescuing a boy from drowning when I was five.

What was your first job? What did you learn from it?

Harvesting cherries on a farm. I learned that I never wanted to do it again and that immigrant farmers that follow the crops deserve every penny they get paid.

What companies did you pass on and later regretted it?

Apple ( I sent an associate in training to investigate and should have gone myself) and Yahoo ( I was focused on starting a new venture capital company in India which did very well, but I could have done both).

Who are your business idols? Why?

Every entrepreneur who tries their best to succeed, whether they do or not. Because they are the drivers of innovation, wealth and social progress.

Who were your mentors? How did they help you become who you are?

General Georges Doriot, my professor at HBS, my father and my wife, Phyllis. They taught by example.

What do you like to do for fun?

Tennis, chess, theatre and venture capital.

If you were not a VC, what would you have been?

Probably a manager in a large company.

What were the most defining moments in your life? Why?

Watching my father struggle to pay the mortgage  during the depression  and  my fighting in Korea in 1951. I realized that survival and success depended on hard work and luck.  One should not underestimate either one.

What is an immediate turnoff in a pitch? Why?

When an entrepreneur does all the talking and never listens. Success   and an inquisitive mind go together.

What sparks your immediate interest when listening to a pitch? Why? 

Past success, eg. Phi Beta Kappa, a home run in another company.  The past is prologue.

What are the most important traits an entrepreneur needs to have?

Vision, character, drive, commitment, empathy. Even Steve Jobs had empathy: for the customer.

What non-profits do you support and why?

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. Because it is a hugely successful seed funder for non- profits and because I started it.

What would you consider to be your most significant accomplishment?

Sutter Hill Ventures, Draper International, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation  (hard to choose one over the other)

What is your secret talent?

Sizing up people.

Who is the most exciting person you’ve ever met? In what circumstances?

Deng Xiao Ping when I was Chair of the Export Import Bank (he freed more entrepreneurial energy than any other person in the history of man).

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