Ellie Wheeler thought she’d be a doctor one day. Instead, she’s just become the newest member of Greycroft Partners in New York.
It’s been a circuitous journey.
After one semester at UMass’s medical school, Wheeler, who’d majored in psychology at Georgetown, realized she’d rather put her old finance classes to use instead. A posting she discovered at Georgetown’s career site led her to her first job, as an associate at Summit Partners in Boston. Deciding she wanted to get close to the actual operations of a business, Wheeler’s next move two years later was to Cisco, where she worked in corporate development, focusing mostly on enterprise software and collaboration.
Wheeler says she “loved the work.” Alas, the market crash of 2008 came in the midst of it. “It was very interesting to be a strategic” after that, she says, laughing.
A move to Harvard Business School came next, then a gig helping Chris Sacca with his firm, Lowercase Capital. (The two connected when Wheeler responded to a tweet of Sacca, who was seeking help at the time. Sacca, also a Georgetown alum, began working with Wheeler last August.)
Now, roughly two months after graduating from HBS, Wheeler may be on her way to becoming one of the few female partners in the venture capital industry. Specifically, she began work at Greycroft Partners in New York yesterday as a senior associate, after moving to the city late last week. She sounds pretty jazzed about the opportunity, too.
“I was looking to be in New York and wanted to remain in this same very interesting area of digital media investing,” Wheeler told me earlier this morning. “Greycroft is a great fit in terms of active investment areas. It has access to really interesting opportunities, and I’m really impressed by the team.”
For now, Wheeler won’t be sitting on boards but rather bringing deals to the team, helping conduct due diligence on startups, and otherwise helping to nurture Greycroft’s portfolio companies from inception through their more mature phases. Presumably, if Wheeler fits in well with the rest of the Greycroft team — including founder Alan Patricof, New York-based partner Ian Sigalow, and L.A.-based partner Dana Settle — board seats and observer slots will come later.
Wheeler’s appointment comes two months after Marissa Campise, a principal at Greycroft, left to join Venrock as a vice president in its New York office. At the time, Campise told Fortune that “I have nothing but great things to say about Greycroft, but it has a very different investment strategy than a firm like Venrock,” which is investing a fund that’s three times as big. “Greycroft,” she said, “goes in believing that every investment should be in a company that will never IPO, and instead will be sold for between $20 million and $100 million. It also co-invests on all of its deals, is very entrepreneur-friendly and doesn’t take board seats.” (Greycroft’s partners do occasionally sit on boards, but more often, they remain board observers.)
Greycroft closed on $130.7 million second fund last year, following a $75 million fund it raised in 2006. The firm was refreshingly candid about the difficulties it faced in assembling the money. According to both Patricof and Sigalow, the partners had 160 first meetings with potential investors over the course of more than year. “It was cold,” Sigalow told the Wall Street Journal last year.