Kara Nortman is the co-founder of Seedling and partner at Upfront Ventures. In this interview she recounts her evolution as a creative child from an adventurous family, to her role as a partner in the largest and most tenured venture capital fund in Los Angeles.    

Armed with an AB in Politics and an MBA from Stanford, Kara Nortman found herself the only person from business school attending a C++ class when she interned at Microsoft more than a decade ago. Before that, she delved deep into esoteric stuff, sailing across uncharted waters (talk DSL and IP switches) just to make her job as telecoms industry analyst at Morgan Stanley more fulfilling and meaningful.

To Kara, so much lies beyond our comfort zones. For her, true entrepreneurs need to “dig past their limitations” to make the impossible possible. But for this to happen, entrepreneurs must have resilience, self-awareness, and passion for what they do.

You can follow Kara (@KaraNortman) on Twitter and read her thoughtful writing on her blog, Venture Inside.

Join Kara as she walks us through her formative years, from family trips that gave her a broader perspective, to her role as a VC evaluating the business viability of startups. Find out what makes a good pitch, and which traits differentiate successful entrepreneurs from those who won’t make the cut.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How Kara’s upbringing influenced her evolution as a top-tier entrepreneur.
  • The important role love of learning and discovery plays in achieving entrepreneurial success.
  • The importance of finding mentors even at the point where you can mentor budding entrepreneurs and leaders yourself.
  • Why being passionate also matters in the art of investing.
  • Which entrepreneurial traits venture capitalists commonly look for.
  • Why entrepreneurs should also conduct due diligence on the particular investors they are pitching to as much as the other way around.
  • The factors making Los Angeles a highly attractive venue for innovation, entrepreneurship and business growth.

Please enjoy!

This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.

DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.

So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.

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Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:


  1. Featured Entrepreneur: Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures partner, Seedling USA Chairman. Kara Nortman in Venture Inside, @karanortman
  2.  Mentioned Personalities

Did you enjoy this conversation? Thank Kara on Twitter!

If you enjoyed this session and have 3 seconds to spare, let Kara know via Twitter by clicking on the link below:

Click here to say hi and thank Kara on twitter!


What stood out most to you about what Kara shares in this podcast?

For me, it’s the importance of  love of learning and discovery in achieving entrepreneurial success.

You? Leave a comment below.


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