George brings two decades of experience in venture capital as the Managing Director. Prior to launching AV8, George ran IBM Ventures globally leading strategic investments in applied AI and cloud enabling start-ups as well as being engaged in fund investment and acquisition activities.
Before IBM, George was a partner at ACM, an early stage venture fund, where he was General Partner, managing investments in big data infrastructure, cloud computing and analytics leading investments in companies such as Datallegro (acq. Microsoft), nLight (IPO on Nasdaq) and Intrinsity (acq. Apple). George started his investment career at Apax Partners, a global venture fund where he invested in early-stage technology companies such as Tessera (IPO Nasdaq), Coretek (Acq Nortel) and Peregrine (IPO Nasdaq). Prior to Apax, he was with McKinsey & Co. in New York advising Fortune 500 companies on growth strategy.
George has also founded and run start-ups and served as an advisor and director to many venture-backed companies. He is the founder of life sciences company CyteGen.
George has lectured on entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, and Stanford, as well as advising faculty on technology spin-offs at other universities. He also provided oversight on the Space Electronics Group at CalTech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Dr. Ugras holds a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Fairleigh Dickinson, a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Yale, and was a research fellow at CalTech in Physics.
Should founders be wary of VC’s?
It is a somewhat asymmetric relationship, founders sharing their dreams and aspirations and VC’s risking someone else’s capital for the most part. I would certainly advise to choose well, align culture and expectations as it is not just about a single transaction. Engagement and humility play a big role in outcomes for founders versus brand and valuation - tougher to assess but worth the effort.
What's the toughest decision in your career?
It’s always toughest to decide to part ways with a founder either by bringing in new leadership or not funding the business further. I was on a board where the company missed its plans and I was the last remaining supporter of the founder CEO. After some very tough soul searching and tough discussions we led a bridge funding to keep the company alive and got the other investors to participate, stuck with the founder and company was successful.
What's an investment you missed?
There is a long list of these. Well, there was a robotics company we saw first before any other fund and passed since a large e-tailer was the only customer and viable acquirer. Guess what? And a certain baby stroller company we passed on as it did not fit our strategy.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing today?
Physics for sure. Peeking through a telescope at some remote location to figure out galaxy formation and teaching if they let me.
What does a typical weekend day look like?
On weekends I fix stuff around the house and then shop and cook. There is something tremendously satisfying in feeding people, I finally understand my mother.