While filming The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola rewrote the script to have a particular scene indirectly share Coppola’s own personal spaghetti recipe and claimed; “If the movie is a flop, at least people will know how to make good spaghetti.”
The movie was not a flop. Today, a multitude of directors claim that modern filmmaking stands on the shoulders of a few select movies; one of which is The Godfather.
In a similar manner, the growth of Atlanta’s vibrant startup scene stands on the shoulders of a few; one of which is Sig Mosley – known by many as The Godfather of Tech Investing. 2015 will witness the 25th year that Sig Mosley has directly influenced the technology startup culture of the Southeast, having witnessed the emergence of millions to a multitude of startup opportunities.
So what is the recipe? What enables one to create such an enduring legacy? In short; passion and hard work.
Growing up in Jasper GA, Sig Mosley has always been one of the hardest workers around. “I was the only kid in town who had a key to the bank where I worked as a teller, a key to the church where I worked as a janitor, and a key to the high school where I worked concessions during athletic events,” shares Sig.
“Money honestly didn’t mean anything to me… I’ve just always enjoyed being involved. I used to help the milk man three or four times a week in exchange for a bottle of chocolate milk.” While in junior high, Sig spent his free time tending to his yard business and followed that up as a vendor at a little league concession booth at night. “At one point as a kid, I was responsible for mowing about 3 dozen yards.”
Sig’s responsible nature quickly became evident to all. “Growing up, my father ran a used car business so I had access to a car I’d drive around town at age 14 – years before I had my driver’s license. Everybody knew it, even the chief of police knew it; he just told me to make sure I stayed inside city limits where he could vouch for me.”
Sig went on to spend most of his high school working hours at the bank where he learned how to understand the numbers behind a story. “The bank enabled me to learn a great deal simply because I was the only one willing to fix accounting errors that others simply did not want to do.” Sig often worked 60 hours a week or more running numbers at the bank before much of the calculation was done electronically. It was in the days of everyone tracking their hours on manual timesheets and I always put 40 hours, even if I worked 60… just always had that mentality.”
Today Sig stands as one of the most influential investors that has shaped the Southeastern startup culture and its merger with capital sources.
His twenty-five years on the front lines enables Sig to continue to fine tune his passion for what he calls the “art” of working with young entrepreneurs. “There have been a lot of changes during the years… entrepreneurs used to come out of corporations and now you see so many coming out of college.”
In more recent years, many entrepreneurs have benefited from Sig’s passion, expertise, and hard work through Flashpoint. Flashpoint was launched in 2011 as an accelerator program to provide mentorship and collaboration to selected participants.
“Flashpoint initially sounded too good to be true” shares Kurt Uhlir of Sideqik. “This process is instrumental in improving your ‘hit rate’ to become a better batter as an entrepreneur. One of the keys is identifying assumptions – an entrepreneur can be overly optimistic to the point that they may be wearing blinders. The Flashpoint process forces you to ask; ‘does somebody need this?’”
“Is there a market?” adds Sig. “You can have the best people and a great product but if there is not a market then it will not succeed.”
As Sig reflects on his tenure of investing in technology startups, predominantly in the Southeast, he notes: “one of the keys to watching local capital continue to grow in the southeast is a shift in the mentality of ‘success.’ Historically, in the South, if an entrepreneur hits it big then they hang up their ‘gone fishin’ sign and retire to the beach, as opposed to adopting the ‘what’s next’ mentality that is common in the Silicon Valley and Boston markets. We’ll need to continue to see investors and entrepreneurs in the Southeast grow in the art of creating a body of work, as opposed to a ‘one and done’ mentality.”
Thankfully, Sig has decided not to hang up his “gone fishin” sign and has no intent to do so. “I simply enjoy being involved,” shares Sig with a contagious attitude.
So to a quarter century of inspiring and enabling technology companies to pursue their dreams; a toast to you, Sig – here’s to many more years to come. Salut!