Operating Partner @ Unusual Ventures
Don is an Operating Partner at Unusual Ventures and the CEO at Athos, a next generation sports performance technology company that supports professional and collegiate sports teams and the Department of Defense. Don was previously the Head of Operations at Pinterest leading sales, marketing, and operations. Before Pinterest, Don was the VP of Online Operations at Facebook, where he led the company’s user, developer, and risk operations teams. Don also worked at Google where he led a team focused on Google’s commerce business. After college, Don served for six years in the US Marine Corps, including combat tours in Afghanistan as an infantry officer and Iraq as a platoon commander with 1st Force Reconnaissance Company. Don graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a BS in Systems Engineering and received his MBA from Stanford. Don sits on the boards of Nuru International, More Perfect Union, and is a member of the 2020 class of Henry Crown Fellows.
- What are the three most important traits that make a successful entrepreneur?
“No.1 is vision. It is hard to be successful if you don’t have a strong vision that you deeply believe in.
No.2 is grit and determination; almost every entrepreneur has been through failure.
No.3 successful entrepreneurs have to be inspiring leaders. They have the vision beyond a simple product or idea, and they have to be able to inspire others to join them in this crazy idea and keep their team marching in the same direction.”
- What matters most in innovation?
“The paradox is that great entrepreneurs are steadfast and stubborn—they see a future they want to make a reality. It’s very rare that the path you start down is the path that leads to the vision. It’s critical that entrepreneurs and team members are open about how to get there—that they learn from mistakes and course correct.”
“The vast majority of [startups] never get to product-market fit. Over 90% of them fail. But for the small number of companies that make it, they enter a very different phase, and they’re fortunate to have growth … When you enter this phase, what it takes to be a successful organization and company is fundamentally different, and the skills and assets that helped you be successful when you were seeking product-market fit don’t necessarily help you be successful in this next phase. Now it’s about understanding how to grow and build a company. How you take that initial innovation and create a culture of sustained innovation, and how you build a successful company around it.”
2015 - Present
2007 - Present
Head of Operations
2012 - 2015
VP of Online Operations
2008 - 2012
Manager, Online Sales and Operations
2006 - 2008
United States Marine Corps
1998 - 2003
MBA, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2004 - 2006)
BS Systems Engineering, United States Naval Academy (1994 - 1998)
Material about Don