Our “Mentoring at 1871” interview series will feature 1871 community members who have made a valuable contribution to our network. The new interview initiative is a collection of stories, stories that highlight what Chicago leaders have gained by participating in the 1871 mentorship program. Here’s what William Robinson, Vice President at Silicon Valley Bank, has to say about mentoring at 1871:
How long have you been mentoring at 1871?
I began mentoring at 1871 in December 2014, as I transitioned into a new role for SVB's Midwest tech practice.
What do you get out of being a mentor?
It's great to meet with high-energy entrepreneurs and hear about their forward thinking ideas on solving big problems. After working in Chicago's tech ecosystem for 8 years, I've learned a great deal about both tech & finance. There have been numerous individuals who have taken the time to help me along the way. Mentoring at 1871 is a way for me to pour back into a community - Chicago's tech community - that has given me so much!
Is there a great anecdote or story from your time as a mentor that you can share?
My initial mentoring session in December 2014 was with Andrew Rowland of Classkick. He told me a lot about his background and his mission for the company. I was immediately impressed. After a follow-up call, I made an intro to an investor that ultimately ended up participating in Classkick's round. Andrew and I both saw the strategic fit for our respective companies and that was the beginning of a great relationship between Classkick and Silicon Valley Bank. I'm not sure how a mentoring session between a venture banker and an early stage entrepreneur could really work out any better than that - and that was my very first time.
Who is someone you've met recently through the mentorship program that got you excited about what they're doing?
Sentic Technologies is an advertising technology platform that uses popular social media content to reveal keywords relevant to paid search. I had the pleasure of meeting the Founders - Pini Pur and Roni Tehori - through office hours at 1871 in March 2015. We've stayed in touch since then. Pini and Roni have raised a seed round and made significant progress with Fortune 500 companies.
Why should someone come to your office hours at 1871?
I've supported the innovation economy in Chicago for 8 years and have done the venture debt and commercial loans for Cleversafe, Signal Digital, Belly, Kapow Events, SnapSheet, Eved, and many others. In addition, Silicon Valley Bank has a unique perspective into the tech and venture capital communities across the globe. I try to bring that distinctive insight and experience to each mentoring session.
Plus, I'm the coolest banker in Chicago and who would pass up on that mentoring session!
About William Robinson:
William Robinson is a Vice President at Silicon Valley Bank and leads the Bank’s Early Stage Technology practice in the Midwest. Previous to Silicon Valley Bank, he served in Banco Popular’s Commercial and SBA Credit Departments. Mr. Robinson began his banking career at National City Bank. He has gained valuable experience working with small and medium sized businesses.
Aside from a career in banking, Mr. Robinson has also served as Adjunct Business Professor at Moraine Valley Community College and Harold Washington College. He has been a member of the Chatham – Avalon Food Ministries Board of Directors since 2007 and is also currently a member of the Southern Illinois University College of Business Minority Advisory Board.
Mr. Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance at Southern Illinois University in 1999. He completed his MBA at SIU in December 2000.
About Silicon Valley Bank:
Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) helps companies and investors move ideas forward and fast. SVB provides targeted financial services and expertise through its offices in innovation centers around the world. With commercial, international and private banking services, SVB helps address the unique needs of innovators.