Meet Scott Armanini, Managing Partner at Expo Ventures
Scott Armanini is one of the most recent additions to AVG’s investment teams, serving as Managing Partner of the recently launched fund for USC alumni, Expo Ventures. We caught up with Scott to talk about his background in emerging tech and what he’s looking forward to as Expo Ventures starts to raise and deploy capital.
What’s your connection to USC?
My wife, Teri, and I met at USC in our first MBA class (Accounting). After graduating, we moved to Silicon Valley and served on the board for our alumni chapter. I have participated in several campus events, including serving as a judge for the USC Marshall Global Consulting Challenge, and speaking at this year’s California China Summit (USC Chinese Students & Scholars Association).
Tell us about your investment background. What roles did you hold prior to joining Expo Ventures?
My background is in bringing emerging technologies to market (AT&T, Cisco, Microsoft, and Silicon Valley startups). I had the honor of co-founding Microsoft’s joint venture with Accenture (Avanade)—which has grown to over 30,000 employees, produced billions in revenue, and created immeasurable business value for their clients. As an investor, I look for game-changing companies, and founders who can keep their cool and execute in dynamic markets.
What sparked your interest in venture investing and working for Expo Ventures?
I have been following Alumni Ventures Group for years and was immediately impressed by the team, AVG’s mission, and business model—which is elegant in its simplicity and effectiveness. I leaped at the opportunity to serve as the founding Managing Partner for Expo Ventures and help members of our great Trojan family invest in great Trojan-led startups. Trojans always support Trojans. We’re lifelong and worldwide. With Expo Ventures, we’re now able to invest in fellow Trojans, make lots of money, and build great companies together.
Which trends are you most excited about in venture investing?
Our business model is to invest alongside other top venture capital firms and create a diversified portfolio of 20–30 investments balanced by stage (early, growth, scale), sector and geography. My objective is to create outsize returns for our investors. So I’m looking for the absolute best Trojan founders to support—founders that have a deep understanding of the problems they are trying to solve and the wherewithal to execute. That said, I believe there is huge upside potential in platforms that serve large groups of customers, including aerospace and defense, entertainment, financial services, health tech (particularly for children, women and the elderly), the sharing economy, and social platforms, to name a few.
What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned on your VC journey?
Character & Empathy. Without these qualities, nothing of substance will ever be created.
Diversity. The most diverse teams are far more successful. And women are more successful as founders than men.
Flex-ecution. Startups must constantly question their assumptions, run experiments and analyze data, be mentally flexible to go where the data takes them—and be able to execute at scale.
Which resources or sources of inspiration (podcasts, books, blogs, mentors, etc.) are most useful to you on a regular basis?
Besides our podcast, Founders & Funders? Attending several social and industry gathering every month to gather information from startups, investors, and potential customers. In addition, being on the USC campus at least once each month to share ideas with students, staff, educators, and alumni.
What else would you like to share about yourself?
I’ve lived throughout California (Berkeley Hills, East Bay Area, Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego), am married to my college sweetheart (30 years in November), father to two great boys, and we have the world’s loudest cat (she’s a Bengal—they like to talk).