Mary Grove is the co-founder of Silicon North Stars, a nonprofit that aims to educate and inspire young Minnesotans from economically underserved communities toward futures in tech. She previously spent 14 years at Google where she was the founding Director of Google for Entrepreneurs. Mary is an investment partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, focused on investing in innovative startups based outside of Silicon Valley. Mary has worked with and supported entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries. She earned a BA and MA from Stanford University and lives in Minneapolis with her husband Steve and their two-year-old twins.
→ Mary, you have spent your career at the forefront of technological change. How do you describe your work to others, and how is your work affecting change?
I’m really passionate about democratizing access to entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurs and startup ecosystems everywhere. Through my work at Google, I was fortunate to work with entrepreneurs in over 100 countries and constantly saw in action the notion that constraint breeds creativity – that when entrepreneurs are forced to bootstrap, really innovative things can happen.
Today, through my work at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, I focus on investing in and supporting great entrepreneurs and companies outside of Silicon Valley, Boston, and NYC – as those three ecosystems get 75% of venture capital funding in the US. We’re working with amazing companies in cities like Missoula, MT and Chattanooga, TN – and helping celebrate the entrepreneurship that is happening in rising cities across the country.
Through my work with Silicon North Stars, we aim to support the next generation of entrepreneurs – our students. We show them through experiential learning that their dreams are possible, that they are capable of immense accomplishments, and that there is a community here who believes in them.
→ If you had $10M (or $100M, or $1BN) of your wealth to bet/invest in one future technology, what would it be and why?
The Internet provides access to information and levels the playing field for access to entrepreneurship. I’d invest in infrastructure and technology to help bring access to all corners of the world, and with it, access to opportunity.
→ In your opinion what does it mean to be a radical leader and how does one get better at being one?
I believe that great leaders set bold, audacious vision for themselves and their teams and combine that with very focused execution and attention to detail. Great leaders set audacious goals that seem impossible, but use data to drive decision making and use the past to inform the future.
→ What’s the single best piece of radical advice you received in your life (so far)?
The upper bound of our limitations are often the limits we set for ourselves. You may be confronted with an amazing opportunity, but think it’s out of your reach. Don’t doubt, just leap – and be humble along the way about what you don’t know, ask for help, but ultimately believe in yourself and be willing to push wildly outside your comfort zone.
→ What is the most enlightening book you have read?
I recommend Measure What Matters by John Doerr, which dives into the OKR methodology for managing companies, teams, and an individuals’ goals and output. I saw how valuable this technique was in the 14 years I was at Google, and I recommend startups and large organizations alike take advantage of the very practical tips and tricks to help scale and run a healthy and highly effective organization.