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Why I Joined Innovation Investor Mercury Fund

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Heath Butler

Heath Butler

In many ways, I consider my time as a corporate executive at Insperity as one of the best investments I ever made. The experience and knowledge I gained there led me down an amazing career path that’s allowed me to make a positive impact as an innovation investor, advisor, and mentor to a broad diversity of entrepreneurs and their startup companies.

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Insperity was the catalyst on my journey to Mercury Fund.

In 2011, Insperity transitioned its brand from Administaff, and the organization looked to expand the depth and breadth of its technology portfolio. We implemented a corporate development-led buy-build-partner strategy. At that time, I had the opportunity to lead a multi-pronged business development effort, playing a pivotal role on the M&A team as well as a sales and marketing oversight role for the newly acquired portfolio of ancillary businesses.

My team and I managed the portfolio as separate business units, and I ended up leading one of them for a couple of years through a transition from Irvine, CA, to Insperity’s corporate headquarters in Houston. I spent most of my time developing business strategy, sales, and marketing plans for the portfolio. This gave me great experience and insight into what it takes to help early-stage companies succeed in their go-to-market strategies, and what success looks like at scale. I continue to leverage and pass along this knowledge to younger companies.

From Fortune 1000 to Startup Advisor

When I left my corporate executive position at Insperity in [2016], I had early visibility into the launch of co-working accelerator Station Houston.

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I was an active mentor at Station and for more than a year, I listened to startup ideas, advised entrepreneurs, and identified investment opportunities. Although a lot of the deals were too early to invest angel capital, I thoroughly enjoyed helping entrepreneurs navigate their journey and knew I wanted to leverage the knowledge and experience I’d developed in my 20 years advising and investing in early-stage, high-growth opportunities.

I joined Mercury Fund as a Network Partner in summer 2019, a few years after I launched Gestalt Theory. I created Gestalt as a venture studio and angel group to invest in opportunities that represented the right balance and mix of ideas I’m passionate about and I believe can create tremendous value for customers. From 2016 through 2019, Gestalt Theory made 20 early-stage investments in 15 companies.

Over the course of working in the Houston innovation ecosystem for two decades, I came to know the Mercury team well and considered Blair Garrou, the firm’s co-founder, as a friend. Most of the formal connectivity with the Mercury team came through my executive role at Insperity, where I led corporate development. Over time, I came to know Mercury to be an entrepreneur-friendly firm, always standing side-by-side with the entrepreneur to build a great business. I found that to be extremely attractive. After leaving Insperity and engaging deeper into the innovation community, the synergies of how I could be valuable to Mercury Fund became clearer.

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Right Place, Right Time, Right Innovation Focus

I firmly believe Houston has the opportunity to become a top-10 city for innovation and I’m excited to be an active participant in Houston’s transition to be a meaningful innovation hub for our community. However, for us to succeed, we need to fully take advantage of our city’s biggest asset: our diversity. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., and it’s critical that all of Houston is involved in and lifted by the rising economic tide that comes with this transition to an innovation hub. We must enable the diversity that truly makes Houston unique. My position with Mercury allows me to pursue that mission.

I’ve also partnered with a team of like-minded entrepreneurs to form Urban Capital Network (UCN), an investment group focused on aggregating non-traditional investors who want access to exclusive private deal flow but are also committed to closing the wealth, job, and innovation gaps in under-represented communities. Our model requires investors to commit to donating a portion of their profits to a non-profit diversity investment fund to gain access to exclusive investment opportunities, such as high-growth startups and venture capital funds. This way, we “create” a new at-risk pool of capital to ignite investment into urban communities that are significantly underserved in venture investments. I am fascinated and inspired daily by the creativity, perseverance, and sheer will-to-win of Houston entrepreneurs and look forward to helping them succeed.

My Next Chapter at Mercury Fund

Mercury Fund understands that entrepreneurs outside of the mature innovation hubs like the bay area and upper east-coast don’t have the same infrastructure, people, and capital that make these hubs thrive. So over the past decade, the Mercury team has worked hard to build a platform that helps entrepreneurs who don’t have the resources, networks, and capital in their backyard. Quite simply, they are active investors, methodical and deliberate about working with entrepreneurs who understand the Mercury value proposition, and are excited to have the support. This is different than how a lot of big-market, coastal venture firms operate, where a “spray and pray” strategy isn’t uncommon.

My decision to join Mercury Fund was fairly easy as it gave me the opportunity to aggregate all the skills I’d learned throughout my career, from helping with my family’s business to my early years of becoming an entrepreneur (third generation!) and corporate executive to becoming a senior executive with Insperity, a publicly-traded Fortune 1000 company, and finally, an angel and venture capital investor.

Additionally, Mercury’s commitment to taking action on diversity and inclusion initiatives and the ability to leverage their platform for the greater good has been extremely motivating. Mercury has provided me the platform to accelerate meaningful impact in my community.

Next time on StartupHeat, I’ll talk about why extroverted engineers make the best founders. Until then, stay curious, focus on the signal, and make mindful decisions on your journey to success!

Until next time, stay curious, focus on the signal and make mindful decisions on your journey to success,

Heath👋

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