Hello! I'm Chad Kruse, a product builder, sideline hacker, and recovering corporate development guy.
This site describes some of my startup endeavors, side projects, consulting engagements, advisory activities, and traditional work history.
Before launching my own ventures and dabbling with code, I was often brought on as the first "business hire" at startups of all shapes and sizes, online and offline. I've run development teams, owned product strategy, raised venture, seed, debt, and philanthropic capital, and closed business development deals with companies both large and small. I'm a generalist through and through.
My career started as a strategist and dealmaker for large tech companies, and I'm often told I have a unique ability to talk shop with programmers, VC's, designers, boards of directors, philanthropists and everyone in between.
My head is in SF, my heart is in Bend (OR), and my body is currently in Chicago.
SmarterGiving develops open source tools to push philanthropy forward. We spend our days thinking what it will take to triple the amount of charitable giving in the US to $1 trillion in just 5 years.
Hint: It has little to do with tax policy and everything to do with improving trust throughout the system.
I served as COO for innovative sensor startup GreenGoose during a critical time in the company’s history, partnering with the solo founder after a successful seed round but still during the prototype phase.
My role changed on a daily (if not hourly) basis, but ranged from crafting the go-to-market strategy and product definition, to early business development and fundraising.
Forkfly (now CloudEngage) was an early entrant in the highly competitive location-based mobile space, and as COO I had the honor of building a rockstar development team from the ground up, managing and launching three web apps and two mobile platforms, prioritizing a seemingly endless feature list, bringing the company to first revenue, and helping lead overall strategy development.
Served as one of four dealmakers for Intuit, the Fortune 500 consumer and SMB-focused technology company. Our group not only executed software M&A deals and explored new growth markets, but also served as internal sound board for business unit leaders while continuing to push for innovation across all levels of the company.
Part of a three-member team responsible for all corporate VC and technology commercialization deals for Science Applications International Corporation, then a Fortune 500 company.
Hired by the founding CTO of this fast-growing enterprise SaaS company to help him assume the product management function and take the team from good to great.
I’ve also found it useful for those times I can’t convince a SaaS startup with an API to create a feature. Just create it yourself :)
Incredible team, incredible vision, domain expertise, traction…Chronicle is an astonishingly high potential startup poised to become the defacto thought leader in digital storytelling.
I helped the company transition from their current high-touch model to scalable digital platform, including defining an MVP and mapping out the go-to-market strategy.
My most popular post on Medium, I explain how I used Meteor.js and lean startup principles to reach first revenues on a net out of pocket investment of just $90.
DailyViva is my Meteor.js playground. Sure, I use it personally to create daily routines (no coffee!), but it’s mostly a sandbox to try out intermediate to advanced Meteor features. Meteor.wrapAsync anyone?!?
Saava was part experiment, part informal network of individual investors, foundations, lenders, and resource providers. Members explored investment opportunities in mission-related organizations, using the Saava website to collaborate with other like-minded investors.
I incubated and launched the project while on sabbatical, eventually reaching 35 local, accredited investors. The organization facilitated the review of over 60 Portland-based organizations seeking capital, from smart growth real estate funds to cleantech upstarts and non-profits developing earned-income streams.
In late 2013 I was invited to give a series of talks on innovation in and around Perth, Australia (also known as the most remote capital city in the world). The message: innovation can happen anywhere.
The Hypothesis: Hackers might focus on fixing more of society’s greatest challenges if they simply knew where to start. Inception brings out ideas and pain points from practitioners in the charitable world and shares them with the developer community.
I built the site over a holiday weekend to scratch an itch and explore MeteorJS.
Making money and making the world a better place shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. I have been involved at the intersection of philanthropy and investing since 2003 (see also Saava.org).
Call it double or triple bottom line, mission or social investing, MRIs, PRIs, blended value…it simply makes sense.
I use this lens when approaching any business, be it startups, fund advisors, nonprofits, or manufacturing companies.
One of the first startups involved in social commerce, I consulted with Bonanza (formerly Bonanzle) during its bootstrap phase. I served the role of “business guy” with duties generally focused on business partnerships and API evangelism, but also included product management, strategy, data mining, and managing the company’s first ad campaign.
Great working relationship with the technical co-founder, offloading certain tasks to allow him to fully concentrate on the user experience. The company subsequently raised a $1M first round from a variety of Seattle-based VCs and super angels and continues to kick *ss.
My first incubated startup, we picked apart the core assumptions behind current time, calendaring, and scheduling tools piece by piece and set out to rebuild them from the ground up.
Served as an advisor to Revisu, a seed-stage startup that went on to participate in the inaugural class of PIE, Wieden + Kennedy’s incubator based in Portland.
This was a spin-out idea stemming from my work in conservation-based forestry. The beauty of working with offline businesses is uncovering countless opportunities to apply technology…this was one of those scenarios. With a focus on the small forestland landowner, we developed a system that intended to leverage LIDAR and satellite technologies to inventory ecosystem assets on ALL non-industrial, private forestlands in OR & WA (we’re talking millions of acres here). If successful, the platform could disrupt the entire forest products supply chain in Western North America.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the technology behind the data sets isn’t quite there yet, at least not in a way that scales (but lots of smart people are cranking on it as we speak).
Quite possibly nothing, except…
The CFA Program (think CPA for the finance world) is something I enrolled in back in 1997 (just out of undergrad) and will finish up by taking the final exam as soon as I scrape together enough free time (Level III).
Ruby on Rails is something I had been tinkering around on for a few months in my free time a few years back, and the reason I still have yet to sit for the final CFA exam.
That might possibly make me the only CFA-type that can write an API call in Rails.
M&A + Partnerships
Execution: I’m a firm believer that ideas are cheap, execution is everything. I enjoy partnering with growth-oriented organizations and other domain experts to help turn ideas into reality.
Roadmaps & Strategy: I help organizations ensure they’re building the right things for the right reasons. For existing businesses, my value-add is centered on exploring new markets - intrapreneurship can be incredibly powerful when done right.</p>
Seed Stage Companies: My consulting work with seed-stage founders centers on creating business models and developing paths to that first customer (or investor, or partner).
PeriscopeGIS was an online application that intends to make large GIS datasets useful to the 80% of GIS users with little to no formal GIS training.
We leveraged the ubiquity of Google Earth, the cost-effectiveness of AWS, and a little proprietary magic to drastically improve the user experience when accessing large, complicated GIS datasets.
Are you sick of all those books that tell you how a startup succeeded (our eyes are on you Founders at Work)? They are good reads, but we thought it was time to focus on the screwups. Much like the American Alpine Club publishes their annual journal chronicling mountaineering accidents, we created this site to show people what NOT to do. People have made the mistake already; let’s honor them by not repeating it.
The site was launched in a weekend with a fellow local entrepreneur. It was shut down a week later after we realized how hard it was to film yourself talking about your screw-ups. Fail fast.
In partnership with one of the most passionate domain experts I have met to date, I played a leadership role with the creation and eventual market launch of WiLD Forests I, L.P., a conservation-based timberland investment management fund. I lead corporate development, finance, and fundraising.
The firm uses a unique approach to forest management, leveraging carbon offsets, conservation easements, and other “ecosystem services” to monetize lands while maintaining healthy forests.
I was hired to assist a solar company explore the feasibility of using New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) on a utility scale solar project in Eastern Oregon.
Produced an intricate financial model which outlines risk sharing opportunities.
I assisted a large engineering services firm assess their cleantech value proposition and develop market entry strategies.
I was hired to assist a local CDFI (community development financial institution) explore the investment merits behind a community wind development.
I was a senior associate for a Portland-based private equity firm. Incredible experience learning from three partners, all of whom have extensive, real-world operating experience. This is the place I learned the true value of a private equity firm…hint, the transaction is the easy part. It’s what you do with the company post-close that matters.
The bulk of my “offline” consulting work focused on transaction structuring and creating financial models.
Most often, these involved renewable energy projects, forestry deals, and other deals requiring creative financing. Just before returning to the tech startup world, I helped a number of firms explore the use of New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) as a potential financing tool.
This website is fully open source and hosted by Github Pages. Help yourself!
Assisted a large international developer model and explore the business case for sustainable development.
Hired by the developers of the largest private landholding in Western Australia to develop a modeling/valuation framework for assessing potential cleantech-related deals. The development is positioning itself to be a model, ground-up sustainable community.
My first job out of undergrad. Also the place I got my de-facto MBA thanks to the active and engaged mentoring I received from the firm’s partners. Amazing experience working with these nationally-recognized business valuation experts.
Worked with the staff of an Australian municipality to model and explore the potential for alternative funding mechansims on certain transit-oriented developments.
I received my B.B.A from the University of Iowa with a major in Finance, graduating in 3 1/2 years.
The stuff I do for fun usually requires a helmet. Mountaineering during spring, mountain biking during summer and fall, and skiing during winter.
In town, you can usually find me at a coffee shop or brewpub pretending that I’m still in Bend, OR.
Looking for a traditional resume? Here you go