Joe Dwyer is an investor, technologist and serial entrepreneur. He is a partner at Digital Intent, a firm that leverages creative technology to evolve existing companies, as well as a partner at Founder Equity Fund, which employs a novel approach to early-stage venture investing.
Joe has been creating and growing new digital businesses for 25 years. Established in 1994, Joe's first company helped clients such as Bain & Company, Albertson's and Exodus Computing conceive and build new digital products. He has since founded or led multiple high-growth companies including The Virtual Market, LoanSurfer, TouchPoint Solutions, ArtistData and Brill Street.
Joe continues to support the Chicago entrepreneurial community as a mentor for Techstars, a Charter Member of TIE and a lecturer for the Founder Institute, among other activities.
Joe holds an MBA with Distinction from the Kellogg School of Management, and a law degree Cum Laude from the Northwestern University School of Law, where he was awarded the Order of the Coif. Joe also has an undergraduate degree in international relations from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
Joe has been programming and creating digital products for longer than he cares to admit. His latest exploration is into high-performance distributed real-time systems based on Node.js, Mongo, and Meteor.
Businesses founded and led by underrepresented and minority leaders are critically important components of our economy. According to the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce, these firms employed more than 7 million people and generated more than $1.4 trillion in combined gross receipts in 2016. These businesses and their growth serve a critical role in the economic stability of many of our communities and families that have faced generational and structural inequities. As more corporations and investors look to deploy capital for investment in minority owned businesses, it will be critical for both the target companies and investment firms to have the strategic guidance and frameworks to increase their capacity to access and develop capital respectfully.
Over the course of this class, students, faculty, and client companies will focus in on the following central questions: (1) How can investors shift the ways in which they evaluate the opportunity and risk inherent to investment in underrepresented founders and their business in order to find and support opportunities that are currently being overlooked?; (2) How can underrepresented founders better understand how investment prospects are evaluated in order to present their strongest case to potential investors and access capital for growth and scale?
This class will provide students with an understanding of the heuristics - shortcuts - often relied on by investors as they seek to determine their interest in, and the value of ventures presented to them. Students will further learn frameworks and approaches that both investors and clients can use to identify and manage for these heuristics when they risk derailing an underrepresented founder's venture from measured consideration. Students will gain and master new approaches and perspectives on the inherent value and valuation of new and scaling businesses. Using a strengths-based framing and approach, students will learn techniques to value opportunities in investing in underrepresented founders, going beyond the heuristics we've explored.