Venture Capital

2011 Global Gift Fair at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church

The annual Christmas Global Gift Fair is happening this weekend at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church on Santa Cruz Avenue. Opening hours are 9:00 am to 8:00 pm on Saturday (11/12) and 9:00 am to 3:00 on Sunday. Textiles, ceramics, jewelry, baskets, and other handcrafted items from developing countries around the world are for sale in partnership with Heavenly Treasures, a fair trade micro enterprise network.

Our visit this morning focused on the products from Kenya. Kigen Teimuge, Director of Operations for Heavenly Treasures Kenya, told us about the numerous workshops located in various slums that employ dozens of people. One, run by a former gang member named John, recycles soda cans into fanciful metallic animals, work that positively impacts about 100 families in his area.

One Kenyan artisan, Abel Green (pictured top, at work near Kenya display), accompanied Kigen to the U.S. this year. “My workshop employs 40 people in a slum outside Nairobi,” he explained. “We use aluminum wire and recycled materials to make our products.”

Heavenly Treasures Kenya NGO products at Global Gift Fair

Local venture capitalist Elton Sherwin was one of the many volunteers on hand to assist shoppers. “What’s great about the Heavenly Treasures organization is that it pays the workers up front,” he said. “That’s what’s allowed these businesses to take off. Over the years, I’ve watched the range of products grow.

“Everything is tagged and tracked, so they know exactly the quantity of supplies to order for each small enterprise. It’s very entrepreneurial. The start up businesses are equipped with the tools they need to be successful in creating their products, and Heavenly Treasure provides the avenue to bring the products to market. That’s the success formula.”

Footnote: When InMenlo interviewed Elton in April, 2010, he had just written Addicted to Energy. Today he told us that book’s release prompted renewed interest in his first book The Silicon Valley Way. Both are available on his website.

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Patricia Nakache: One-time science geek now successful venture capitalist

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Since joining Trinity Ventures in 1999, general partner Patricia Nakache has focused on funding companies launching innovative online consumer and business services. She is particularly interested in the impact of social media and mobile on the next generation of Internet services. Local companies Kixeye, My New Place, and Uptake are among those in her current […]

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Adobe Systems co-founders receive Marconi Prize in Menlo Park

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Waffle innovation trumps pizza startup model?

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Do startups need waffles? Judging by the large turnout at Startup Digest‘s Startup Waffles event in the courtyard at Lightspeed Ventures this morning, the answer is a definite affirmative. We all know about the startup-pizza link: the whole point of the first round of financing is to defray the Round Table or Amici’s bill. If […]

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Elton Sherwin: How to overcome energy addiction

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As Menlo Park resident Elton Sherwin recounts it, an epiphany led to the writing of his second book, Addicted to Energy: “I was sitting in an adult Sunday school class listening to a lecture on Old Testament prophesy and the speaker was saying, ‘Most of us think of prophecy as fortune telling.’ And I thought, […]

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Arista: Menlo startup with head (solidly) in the cloud

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Arista Networks is a Menlo Park-based startup that aims to make the “cloud” a much friendlier place for impatient internet users tired of choppy, halting YouTube video and slow-loading web pages. An interview with Arista VP and co-founder Ken Duda recently brought great clarity on this issue to interested observers here at InMenlo. The internet […]

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Forecast 2010 – A Good Year for VC’s

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A number of pundits are predicting that 2010 will be a good year for venture capital investors – many of whom are clustered in offices along Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road with perhaps the epicenter of the cluster being at the late Tom Ford’s 3000 Sand Hill Road campus. Some pundits are saying that “the […]

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