Charlie Kemper is a Partner at Revel Partners, an early-expansion stage investment group focused on financing disruptive innovation in the areas of digital media and internet technology. Revel Partners was formed in early 2011 by Joe Apprendi, Founder and CEO of Collective, Thomas Falk, CEO of eValue Group, Chris Young, Chairman and CEO of Digital Broadcasting Group, and John Vincent, CEO and Co-Founder of Eyewonder. We recently spoke with Charlie about his career and emerging trends in digital media startups.
The Makegood: Charlie, you have made a career working on the finance side of startups, having spent time at private equity firms including, Steelpoint Capital Partners and Darby Overseas Investments. What would you say is the most exciting part of working with startups?
CK: I started out my career in the nineties as a developer, writing code for Avalanche Systems, an interactive marketing services agency which was eventually Razorfish’s first acquisition. Before that acquisition, I left Avalanche and co-founded KMF, a web development shop that designed ecommerce platforms for various types of clients from flower retailers to medical device companies. During that time I came to realize that I was much better at business than I was at writing code, so I moved on and eventually found a career in venture capital starting in 2000, when the industry was melting down. Despite the adverse environment I came to love the job, advising entrepreneurs, making interesting connections between people, and building disruptive fast-growth companies. There is so much opportunity for innovation in this day and age and just being in the middle of it is exhilarating enough.
The Makegood: Revel Partners is a fairly new firm, having launched about a year ago. What made you and your partners decide to launch Revel Partners?
CK: I was approached by my four partners who each and collectively had had tremendous success in starting and building digital media companies. They wanted to be able to leverage that experience in to helping other entrepreneurs build the next generation of startups and capitalize on my experience as a principal investor. That combination of deep operating expertise with my background in venture capital we believe to be a unique offering in the New York market.
The Makegood: You are a General Partner at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, the leading NY-born community-driven incubator. Can you tell us what the ER Accelerator is all about?
CK: Entrepreneurs Roundtable is an extraordinary organization that’s been helping the startup community for the past five years, through networking events and a pitch series. Because of that network we saw a unique opportunity to further help the startup community and provide a select set of companies with more; things like office space, access to over 200 mentors, some capital, and free services from top notch sponsors like Amazon, SNR Denton, Microsoft, American Airlines, and others. Ultimately, the accelerator is a huge community effort where we brought together a ton of folks that are interested in helping make NYC a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation.
The Makegood: As a VC, you must be exposed to hundreds of early stage startups, can you tell us about some promising trends you are seeing and expect to become more mainstream in the near term?
CK: At Revel, we are squarely focused on digital media and online advertising infrastructure. So, within that, we are continuing to see extraordinary opportunity in social, mobile, and local. Within those buzz words, there exist countless interesting opportunities to improve engagement, deliver cross-channel campaigns, enable hyper targeted interactions, and provide better analytics & measurement. Online advertising is expected to surpass print advertising this year and it’s rapidly catching up with television. Access to seemingly ever-increasing data is driving this continued shift in spend which in turn is creating a lot of innovation in the category to deliver a better ROI on decisions made.