“To say that Ben spent a lot of time in the weeds would be an understatement. And as much as some people want to believe it’s possible, intellectual curiosity is not something you can fake.”
Dr. Massimiliano Versace, CEO, Neurala.
Simply put, they don’t posture. They deliver.
Dr. Massimiliano Versace is the co-founder and CEO of Neurala, and the company visionary. After his pioneering research in brain-inspired computing and deep networks, he continues to inspire and lead the world of autonomous robotics. Max is a Fulbright scholar, has authored dozens of academic publications, holds several patents and two Ph.Ds. He’s also an expert on venture capitalists; specifically, Pelion Venture Partners. Here, in Max’s own words, is the whole story:
Dr. Massimiliano Versace: I first heard of Pelion from one of my long-time partners, a supplier of processors for artificial intelligence. But I never could have anticipated that I’d one day consider them as family. But, as I found out later, that’s the way it always seems to work with Pelion. They earn your trust with their stellar reputation — and then they continue to earn it with something rarely found in the industry: unparalleled openness and transparency. But more about that later.
My supplier and I kept each other in the loop regarding Pelion until, eventually, I invited them to submit a term sheet of their own. And while it was certainly impressive, their term sheet wasn’t what initially won me over. It was their unusually high level of support.
The early years for Neurala weren’t exactly carefree. And while the normal reflex for a VC in that situation is to back away, Pelion had the exact opposite reaction. Instead of cutting and running, they dug in. The tougher times got, the more determined they became to see us through it. Until, eventually, I felt like they were part of the Neurala family. Needless to say, that’s not exactly a typical outcome in this business.
Which brings me to the aforementioned openness and transparency. As first-time founders, my wife Heather and I would occasionally find ourselves in the midst of a crisis of confidence. Not only were Ben and Chris more than available to help, they always seemed to know what to say to reassure us. It was that human touch, in fact, that made it seem as though Pelion was on the journey with us. And not just throwing out obligatory sound bites from the sidelines.
More to the point, Ben and Chris were genuinely interested in what made Neurala special. While other firms seemed content just to write a check, Ben and Chris wanted to actually understand what we were all about. In fact, to say that Ben spent a lot of time in the weeds would be an understatement. And as much as some people want to believe it’s possible, intellectual curiosity is not something you can fake.
As evidenced by Ben’s encyclopedic knowledge of red meat. I thought his grasp of artificial intelligence was impressive until he told me exactly what cows need to eat in order to produce the world’s tastiest steaks. (As a courtesy, though, I’ll save his insight regarding rocky mountain oysters for another time.)
“…it was Pelion’s character that made choosing them easy. And while there are certainly names and companies that command far more recognition, it’s my sincerest belief that none can compete with Pelion when it comes to substance.”
Dr. Massimiliano Versace, CEO, Neurala.
In the end, though, it was Pelion’s character that made choosing them easy. And while there are certainly names and companies that command far more recognition, it’s my sincerest belief that none can compete with Pelion when it comes to substance.
This may sound strange coming from someone whose last name is Versace, but just because something is fashionable or cool doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. And when I compared Pelion to all the other firms we were considering, Pelion came out on top. Simply put, they don’t posture. They deliver.