Succumbing to Customized Software in a SMB

There is a debate among small business owners regarding building your own custom software to run sales or operations versus buying or subscribing to existing tools. Well respected friends of mine argue that it’s wiser to simply buy the SaaS tool that is built for your industry or problem. They’re successful and the proof is […]

Generating Cash

My evolution as an entrepreneur and investor has been marked by two distinct phases. I may be entering into a third phase. Phase 1 began at age 19, when I got my first true line of credit. My father co-signed my first note, set me up with a sweetheart deal that was almost guaranteed to […]

A Small Business Sales Meeting

Following a portfolio company board meeting yesterday I decided to linger and observe a sales staff huddle. Present were the CEO and two salesmen. (They each wear other hats but the focus of this agenda was on sales.) The CEO kicked off the meeting and began with a review of territories and key accounts. One […]

A letter to a friend

A good friend shot me an email asking what was up with my post about not doing VC investment any longer. My friend leads a business. We’ve worked together formally and informally on growing that business. We’ve also discussed starting and jointly owning something new. So of course that email was checking in to make […]

My Year as a VC

Little Engine Ventures is out of the startup game. My title when we started was Director of Startups. I was to oversee deal flow and lead the investment decisions in early (seed) stage technology companies that we believed had high potential to grow. From the beginning there was only going to be a small portion […]

Brand Promise Wheel

The brands or sectors listed in our brand wheel are purists. We believe the most enduring brands are split complementary. They start with a split base and spice it up with an opposite accent, tactically exploited.                     The next best and most common successful brands are […]

Greater Lafayette Entrepreneurship Week

We often say we are proudly midwestern. Our name not only comes from the children’s book but is also an homage to Daryl and Mikel’s alma mater, the Purdue University Boilermakers. Our office is just a couple of miles east of campus in Lafayette, Indiana. We’ve loved starting businesses, starting families, and growing both in […]

Meat and Potatoes Investing

At a business lunch the other day a banker said he was glad to see that LEV was into “meat and potatoes investing.” I smiled as this is not only a Midwest thing to say, but it’s also a fair assessment of our appetite for basic ingredients. (I had a chicken bacon wrap for lunch… […]

The LEV Library

Updated on November 6, 2022 by Daryl Starr – Airtable The first room in the LEV office has three, floor-to-ceiling walls of built-in bookshelves.  The other wall has windows.  Rather than have the bookshelves ripped out and replaced with a single Amazon Kindle, we decided to populate the shelves with books (and other trinkets.) If […]

Are you “The Guy?”

There are sometimes blinking neon signs above people’s heads that say “Winner.”  For the rest of the world there are lots of questions and doubts.  When it comes to making investments in startup companies, LEV takes a simple but not easy approach. We only invest in startups where it is very clear that we have […]