Chad Kruse

Product Strategy & New Markets

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Phone: [phone protected]
  • Website:

About Me

Before launching my own ventures and diving into JavaScript, I was often brought on as the first 'business hire' at startups of all shapes and sizes. I've run development teams, owned product strategy, entered new markets and assessed growth opportunities across the build/buy/partner spectrum. My career started as a strategist and corporate development leader for large tech companies, and I'm often told I have a unique ability to talk shop with programmers, designers, VC's, boards of directors, and everyone in between.



  • Go-To-Market
  • Business Cases
  • Market Research
  • Customer Interviews
  • Opportunity Assessments

  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Lean Methodology
  • Agile Development
  • Product Roadmaps
  • Data & Analytics

  • JavaScript
  • MeteorJS
  • MongoDB/NoSQL
  • HTML/CSS/JQuery
  • Github Workflow


  • Entrepreneur: 4 Years
  • Startup COO & Advisor: 6 Years
  • Corporate Development: 7 Years


Founder, CEO
Nov, 2012 - Present

Conceptualized, created, and launched SmarterGiving, a prototype studio focused on market opportunities throughout the 'charity stack'. Our MVPs and prototypes explored specific pain points across the philanthropic spectrum, from online donations and donor cultivation to nonprofit discovery and social networks.

  • Drove multiple products from concept to launch using agile and lean startup principles.
  • Heavy emphasis on customer development, from interviews and follow-me-homes to analytics.
  • First product went from idea to first revenues on a net out-of-pocket investment of just $90.
Startup Consulting
COO, Business Advisor & Product Consultant
May, 2007 - Mar, 2015

Partnered with domain experts and technical founders to focus, launch, or expand. As a COO-for-hire, my roles ranged from business development and API evangelism to fundraising, product, and corporate strategy.

  • Served as product lead and COO for Forkfly, managing the launch of three web applications and two mobile platforms. Transitioned the company from single app to digital advertising platform, tripling the team from 4 to 12 and bringing the company to first revenues.
  • Crafted and evangelized the platform strategy for innovative sensor startup GreenGoose resulting in a successful seven-figure fundraise.
  • Turned two pilot projects from ecosystem services company WiLD Inc. into an institutional timberland investment management fund.
  • Full list of clients and projects available at
Riverlake Partners
Senior Associate
Jul, 2005 - Apr, 2007

First non-partner hire for Riverlake Partners, a lower middle-market private equity fund. Assisted partners in all aspects of the fund, from modeling to negotiations and portfolio management activities.

  • Responsible for deal flow program including sourcing, vetting, assessing, and modeling potential deals. Lead due diligence and deal closing activities.
  • Raised debt capital in support of acquisitions, collaborated with funding partners and industry colleagues, and worked extensively with outside attorneys to close transactions.
  • Assisted in ongoing portfolio-level improvement activities including the development of add-on acquisition strategies, financing expansion plans, and other ad-hoc projects.
Senior Manager - Corporate & New Market Development
Apr, 2000 - Oct, 2002

Served as one of four dealmakers for Intuit, the Fortune 500 consumer and SMB-focused technology company. Our group not only explored new growth markets and executed software M&A deals, but also served as internal sound board for business unit leaders while continuing to push for innovation across all levels of the company.

  • Explored new avenues for growth, identified and prioritized opportunities, cultivated internal collaboration, developed internal plans, and led internal buy-in and eventual deal execution.
  • Developed investment theses (build/buy/partner) and prepared and lead a variety of internal communication activities including presentations to board level audiences.
  • Managed large cross-functional teams including outside consultants. Served as lead negotiator for multiple deals, including Intuit's first partnership with Paypal.
Senior Associate - Acquisitions and Strategic Ventures
Jan, 1999 - Apr, 2000

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.

  • Sourced, analyzed, and executed venture capital investments and growth-oriented mergers and acquisitions to expand the company's reach into commercial markets.
  • Placed $90M of early to mezzanine stage venture capital in 15 months (11 transactions).
  • Built and evangelized a new valuation model which was ultimately adopted company-wide (40k employees; 600+ business units)
Columbia Financial Advisors
Associate Analyst
Feb, 1997 - Jan, 1999

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.

  • Assessed future prospects of clients through extensive market research and heavy financial modeling.
  • Performed business valuations and other investment banking related services.
  • Trained new analysts on research strategies and financial modeling.


University of Iowa
Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance
Dec, 1996


Intersection of Philanthropy and Technology
  • Charity Stack
  • Philanthrotech
  • Former Volunteer Instructor - Mazamas Climbing Club
Open Source Contributor
  • FOSS
  • Github
Self-Taught Developer
  • MeteorJS
  • MongoDB