fbpx

A team of
builders

CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR

Rick Smith

Stats

HOMETOWN
Decatur, Illinois...the Soybean Processing Capital of the World!
EDUCATION
BS in Finance at University of Illinois, JD at Harvard Law School
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
A sense of optimism that most people are good and deserve respect...even that person who just cut me off on the 10!
HOW DO YOU PASS TIME IN LA TRAFFIC?
Malcolm Gladwell podcasts. He’s the best. And NPR: No rant/no slant.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
Lifeguard at a community pool in Decatur, IL. Got paid $2 an hour but was an awesome way to spend hot and humid Central Illinois summers.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE IN LA?
Our conference room—we get some of the world’s smartest, most driven dreamers coming through every week. It still fires me up to meet a passionate entrepreneur hell-bent on building a large company.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BEACH IN LA?
Confession: I love the ocean but I’m probably more of a mountain guy. Telluride is my favorite.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CITY BESIDES LA?
New York City. Love the energy and the hyper-competitive atmosphere.

Media

Bio

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ENTREPRENEURIAL ENDEAVOR?
I was the classic midwestern blue-collar kid trying (needing) to make money any way I could: delivering newspapers, shoveling driveways, and mowing yards.
WHAT IMPORTANT LESSON HAVE YOU LEARNED AS AN INVESTOR?
The only thing that matters is the entrepreneur. Their drive and passion are way more important than anything we do as investors.
WHAT DID YOU DO IMMEDIATELY BEFORE CROSSCUT?
I took some extended time off, to focus on my kids and take care of my ailing parents back in Illinois. It was an important time of reflection and introspection for me.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO FOUND CROSSCUT?
During that extended period of time that I took off, I was trying to figure out what was next. I had a conversation with my gardener, where he noted how passionate I was in describing venture capital compared to the other paths. I made the decision right there to follow my passion and get back into venture capital by founding Crosscut.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST LESSON YOU LEARNED ABOUT BUSINESS?
I learned there is no substitute for hard work. I also learned the importance of entering the right market at the right time and never discounting the role of luck in any outsized success.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN FOUNDERS?
Grit and hustle. Not being afraid to say “I don’t know”.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ON THE WEEKENDS?
Golfing and yoga...and Dan Tana’s

CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR

Brian Garrett

Stats

HOMETOWN
Pacific Palisades, CA
EDUCATION
Industrial Engineering at Stanford and MBA at Stanford
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
My journal—I’m always reflecting on growth opportunities and trying to better prioritize my time in support of my values and goals
HOW DO YOU PASS TIME IN LA TRAFFIC?
Podcasts and Spotify playlists—a lot of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday interviews
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I delivered airline tickets (before they were digital) all over LA for my mom’s travel agency
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BEACH IN LA?
Station 15, Jetty at Will Rogers State Beach, where my parents would drop us at 8 am and pick us up at sunset. It’s where I learned to surf, did Junior Lifeguards, and watched them film Baywatch.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ROAD TRIP FROM LA?
Driving up PCH through Malibu up to Ojai or Santa Barbara. They are so close but so different than LA and you get to stare at the ocean all the way.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CITY BESIDES LA?
I’ve held on to my infatuation with Auckland after my wife and I honeymooned there in 2001. It’s a modern, SF-like city with short ferry rides to beautiful small islands covered in wineries and abandoned beaches.
What's your favorite LA neighborhood?
Palisades is the best family community, but I’ve always regretted not moving to Manhattan Beach back in 2001. I’d be surfing more and playing more volleyball.

Media

Bio

Best piece of life advice you've gotten?
“Let the game come to you.” I think Phil Jackson said this to MJ, but Theresa Ranzetta-Gouw shared this wisdom with me while she was at Accel. At the time, I was trying to build Crosscut and launch StyleSaint at the same time. She noticed I was trying to force success and urged me to relax and let things develop in a more natural rhythm. Her advice really helped me at a time when I was overwhelmed by stress and doubt.
What did you learn as an entrepreneur at StyleSaint?
Empathy. My failure as an entrepreneur made me a better investor—more capable of understanding the plight of the entrepreneur and more accepting of the idea that good ideas and great effort can often still lead to failure.
What have you learned as an investor at Crosscut?
Infinite patience and confidence in yourself. This is a tough career—one of the few where you can still question if you are any good at it after 18 years on the job. I try not to take each failure personally and stay focused on the collective body of work. There are great highs, and low lows, so you can’t live in a constant state of self-doubt. I try to stay focused on the quality of the relationships that I build with my entrepreneurs—both in success and in failure.
How did you decide to found Crosscut?
Rick and I saw a bunch of high-growth, successful LA-based businesses scaling in LA while we were at a firm focused on Enterprise IT. We started spending time chasing deals in new markets, convincing ourselves that we knew something that the other firms didn’t. We had a thesis that venture investors benefit from brand and reputation that is best built locally, one deal at a time and we bet that LA had the right ingredients to be a long-term sustainable tech ecosystem. It took a little longer than we had hoped, but we are quite fortunate now to have been in the right place at the right time!
What originally brought you to LA?
I was born here and spent my childhood surfing, fishing and playing volleyball. I missed that lifestyle after 10 years in the Bay Area. My wife and I were both unemployed after the first tech bubble burst, deciding that we wanted to start our family together in LA, so we moved back in 2001 after I finished business school.
What do you look for in partners?
In general, I seek relationships that are built on integrity, honesty, and vulnerability. I believe that we are all flawed, and those that show self-awareness and a constant desire to improve as human beings resonate with me. If you can build a partnership with that type of foundation, I think you have a much better chance of making good decisions and finding creative solutions to the infinite problems we will face in helping our portfolio companies win.
Where can people find you on the weekends?
I’m usually at a sports complex coaching and watching my boys play volleyball. If I happen to have a free weekend, I do my best to surf or play volleyball down at the beach.

CO-FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR

Brett Brewer

Stats

HOMETOWN
Turlock, California. The pride of the Central Valley!
EDUCATION
A proud UCLA Bruin
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
I always have my call back list with me. I start at the top and start dialing.
What was your first job?
I started a “pencil selling business” in 4th grade that grew to be quite large but one of the jobs that had an impact on me was selling books door to door while I was at UCLA. Very tough business as you literally get hundreds of doors slammed in your face but you just have to keep knocking.
What is your favorite place in LA?
The Whaler on the Washington Street Pier
What’s your favorite beach in LA?
Little Dume
What’s your favorite road trip from LA?
Capitola
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Sydney, Australia
Best LA tacos?
Tito’s Tacos
What’s your favorite LA neighborhood?
Venice
Favorite place to watch an LA sunset?
Santa Monica Mountains

Media

Bio

How did you decide to found Crosscut?
Between Intermix Media (MIX) and Adknowledge, I raised money from TCV, TPG, Redpoint, Vantage Point, JMI, Nokia and more… but I never even thought about raising from a venture firm based in LA. Based on that experience, it felt like there must be an opportunity to “plant the flag in LA” and become the “go-to” LA-based venture firm. By teaming up with Rick and Brian (2 very experienced venture capitalists who know the business well), we were able to launch our proof of concept fund in LA in 2008. We’ve never looked back!
What was the first lesson you learned about business?
One of my first lessons in business was around team building and team dynamics. For the most part, businesses succeed or fail based on leadership and the decisions they make. At Intermix Media, I was obsessed with team building but occasionally I would get so excited about a new category (dating as an example) that I’d be willing to start a new business with a sub-optimal team. It didn’t take long to see that most of our failures (and there were many) stemmed from when I liked the business idea much more than the team I was able to quickly spin up. My focus today is almost completely around the quality of the founding team. Once we make an investment, I immediately help teams figure out the holes and how we can fill them. Lesson learned: it’s all about the quality of the team.
What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor and how did it go?
In 4th grade, I started a business selling high-end pencils with cool erasers to the other kids. It went well until I expanded into 2 other classrooms and tried to scale the business. 2 days later the principal shut down my business.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur?
Through the pencil business, I learned how to deliver a good product (I rode my bike to the other side of town to buy special colored pencils with jumbo easers) and make a big mark up and to run a profitable business. But I also learned that if you push it too far (and get greedy), it can all come crashing down quickly when the principal cracks down on you. I learned to know and understand your limits!
What do you look for in founders?
First and foremost, fire in their belly to succeed in their quest to change the world. The startup journey is on a tough road that’s littered with broken dreams. As we’ve all learned, founders have to be prepared to pivot, restart, expect with the unexpected, and make tough choices quickly...all in the same week! It’s not for the faint of heart, but after doing this for 20 years, you can spot the fire (and desire) from a mile away (or not).
Why have you completely avoided being on social media yourself?
People often get a kick of this given my Myspace roots and all, but the truth is that I have never been a “social media” person. From early 2003 and the launch of Myspace, I have been fascinated with watching the way people interact with social media and the way it has shifted human behavior. But I have always been content watching as an amateur social scientist from the outside. I don’t see that changing soon, and for the most part, I think people need to spend less time on their phones and more time talking to each other!

MANAGING DIRECTOR

Clinton Foy

Stats

HOMETOWN
Anchorage, Alaska
EDUCATION
Philosophy and Art History at the University of Notre Dame, JD at the University of Washington School of Law, MA in East Asian Studies and Economics at Stanford University Graduate School
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
A sense of gratitude
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
Deep breathing, meditation, and pushing the boundaries of working while driving in autopilot
What was your first job?
“Stick-Picker” manual laborer / sanitation engineer on the North Slope oil field in Alaska. It was not a glamorous job. In between high school and college I also worked for the law firm defending Exxon in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The most exciting part of that job was photocopying Captain Joseph Hazelwood’s blood alcohol report.
What’s your favorite beach in LA?
Manhattan Beach
What’s your favorite road trip from LA?
Manhattan Beach to Mammoth and LAX to home
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Tokyo, Rome, Seattle
What’s your favorite LA neighborhood?
Venice
Favorite place to watch an LA sunset?
The Strand, Manhattan Beach

Media

Bio

What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor and how did it go?
In 2015 I co-founded the professional esports organization, the Immortals and the LA Valiant. We brought on AEG, Lionsgate, Meg Whitman, and Steve Kaplan as investors and are building a top tier infrastructure that is the future of professional sports and digital entertainment.
What did you do immediately before Crosscut?
I was COO of Square Enix, a $3 billion publicly traded Japanese game and media company.
Nerdiest thing about you?
Rogers Park Elementary School Chess Champion 5th and 6th grade.
What have you learned as an entrepreneur?
Balance
What have you learned as an investor?
Patience
They don’t know they are mentors to me, but I consider them mentors -- Elon Musk, Fred Wilson, Naval Ravikant, Shane Parrish, Marcus Aurelius, Plato, Dogen. All of them help me with relationships, work, staying present, and inspiring me to live a life well-lived.
What do you look for in partners?
Play well with others whether you’re winning or losing
What do you look for in founders?
Grit, integrity, and the ability to endure painful lessons and improve
Where can people find you on the weekends?
Running on the Manhattan Beach wood chip trail or the Strand, chair 23 on Mammoth, in down dog, reading in a calm place, sitting in the window seat of a plane
Business advice I like
“If you don’t prioritize your life then someone else will.”
Favorite recent tech invention?
Auto pilot
Best piece of life advice?
Breathe

SENIOR ASSOCIATE

Maureen Klewicki

Stats

HOMETOWN
Salt Lake City, UT
EDUCATION
BA in English & Spanish at University of Utah, JD at USC
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
Hair elastic
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
Music – upbeat tunes in the morning, chill on the way home
What was your first job?
Snack bar at the pool
What is your favorite place in LA?
Anywhere along the backbone trail
What’s your favorite beach in LA?
Point Dume
What’s your favorite road trip from LA?
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico. We’re so lucky to be in driving distance to another country.
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Buenos Aires
Best LA tacos?
Guisados
Favorite place to watch an LA sunset?
Venice beach winter sunsets on the sand piles

Media

Bio

NERDIEST THING ABOUT YOU
I’ve read Harry Potter in English and Spanish.
What did you do immediately before Crosscut?
Worked with early stage healthcare tech entrepreneurs. The US has huge issues that need to be addressed in healthcare- namely cost. I’m always eager to connect with people building solutions.
What was the first lesson you learned about business?
No matter the industry, it’s a small industry. Always act with integrity.
What do you look for in partners?
I try to surround myself with colleagues where I feel intellectually uncomfortable, because they’re so sharp, and at the same time I’m at ease, because we’re all able to admit what we don’t know. I believe that’s the best environment for growth.
What do you look for in founders?
Optimists with a detailed game plan.

HEAD OF PLATFORM

Nick Kim

Stats

HOMETOWN
Santa Monica, CA
EDUCATION
Economics at UC Berkeley, CFA Charterholder, MBA at The Wharton School
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
My Hydro Flask – gotta stay hydrated
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
Podcasts and audiobooks – huge fan of The Knowledge Project and Snap Judgement
What was your first job?
I cold-called 150 people a day as a telemarketer selling season tickets for the LA Clippers (still a Laker fan)
What’s your favorite beach in LA?
Tower 26 – shoutout to Samohi
What’s your favorite road trip from LA?
Yosemite Valley – protect our parks!
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
New Orleans (Tel Aviv a close second)
Best LA tacos?
Carne asada at Tacos Por Favor

Media

Bio

What was the first lesson you learned about business?
Working for the Clippers, I learned that selling is not explaining why the person needs your product or service. It’s uncovering the person’s needs and showing how you can meet them.
What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor and how did it go?
I started a moving company in New York City with a teammate from Warby Parker and an experienced moving company CEO. It was an unbeatable learning experience, despite it being short-lived. You can read more about why we started it and why we closed it in the links.
Who are your mentors and what do they help you with?
To help our companies grow, I learn from the entrepreneurs and operators who are building the next great businesses. A special shout out to my teammates at Warby Parker, especially the one and only Erin Collins. She taught me so much about operating in a hyper-growth environment, and I constantly refer to the lessons I learned at Warby Parker.
What do you look for in founders?
I’m most inspired by people who find creative ways to test ideas cheaply and quickly. I love the story of Nick Swinmurn testing the idea for Zappos by putting up a website and fulfilling the orders by buying shoes at retail. Some of my biggest growth experiences at Warby Parker were when my managers challenged me to redesign product tests to be rolled out faster and at no cost.
Nerdiest thing about you
I once made an excel database of 250+ New York restaurants that helped you pick the perfect spot based on things like the size of your party, the vibe, the music, and how much you care about the food.
FAVORITE RECENT TECH INVENTION
1Password changed my life
Best piece of life advice?
Always add the egg

Analyst

Haley Sproull

Stats

HOMETOWN
Skokie, IL
EDUCATION
BA in History from Yale
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
My notebook and a pencil
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
By listening to books on tape
What was your first job?
Babysitting – I learned the virtue of patience along the way
What is your favorite place in LA?
Having just moved from Chicago, anywhere within view of a palm tree
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Siena, Italy, where I studied abroad in college
What’s your favorite LA neighborhood?
I love driving through Pasadena. It feels like an extension of the American frontier and I love being close to the mountains

Media

Bio

What was your first entrepreneurial endeavor and how did it go?
Around age 10, I realized I held a captive audience - my parents. Whenever I needed money for Pokemon cards, I’d do a full scrub of the house and send them the bill. It was a success for me, I collected over 100 Pokemon cards
What did you do immediately before Crosscut?
Prior to Crosscut, I worked in consulting and spent time across a few industries; aerospace, food and beverage, and education. Before that, I studied Eastern European history, with a focus on 20th century post-war Europe
What originally brought you to LA?
I was drawn to LA by the creative energy, diversity, booming tech scene, and of course, the outdoors
What was the first lesson you learned about business?
Time is our most limited resource
Who are your mentors and what do they help you with?
I am lucky to have mentors all around me. I count my mom, sister, college friends and professors, and a few authors among the people I learn from everyday
Where can people find you on the weekends?
I like to use the weekends to spend time in nature. You can find me outside hiking, exploring, or just generally enjoying the outdoors. I also like to read – The New Philosopher is my favorite quarterly
Favorite recent tech invention?
The advent of the FemTech category – I like companies that rethink and modernize women’s healthcare

Executive Assistant

Sofia Kasztelan

Stats

HOMETOWN
Born in Poznan, Poland
EDUCATION
The Poznań University of Economics and Business
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
Phone (I always stay in touch with my family and work)
How do you pass the time in LA traffic?
Spotify playlists and audiobooks
What was your first job?
I was a fashion model
What is your favorite place in LA?
Los Feliz
What’s your favorite beach in LA?
Point Dume, Malibu
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Como, Italy
What’s your favorite LA neighborhood?
Brentwood

Media

Bio

Best piece of life advice?
”The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
What did you do immediately before Crosscut?
I was a project manager at a home remodeling & construction company
What’s your favorite Crosscut memory?
Our team offsite
Who are your mentors and what do they help you with?
My Mom always keeps me strong and grounded
Where can people find you on the weekends?
At the beach or hiking

CFO

Lisa Riedmiller

Stats

HOMETOWN
Born in Omaha, NE but raised in Santa Clara, CA (before it was Silicon Valley)
EDUCATION
BA in English Literature from SJSU
NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
My cell phone
How do you pass the time in traffic?
Make phone calls or listen to audio books
What was your first job?
Working in an ice cream store :)
What is your favorite place in LA?
Corona Del Mar—I lived in Orange County for 12 years, but never LA
LA or San Francisco?
As much as I loved my time in Corona Del Mar, I’m a Northern California girl at heart. (I do miss the weather, though. ☔️)
What’s your favorite city besides LA?
Laguna Beach

Media

Bio

What was the first lesson you learned about business?
Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want accidentally forwarded to the wrong person.
Best piece of life advice?
“You are a ghost, driving a meat-coated skeleton made from stardust, riding a rock, hurtling through space. Fear nothing.”
Where can people find you on the weekends?
At the yoga studio, and out having dinner with friends.
What is the nerdiest thing about you?
I love puzzles, usually crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles.
Favorite recent tech invention?
Airpods.