Coda: Introduction

Posted on March 30, 2022 at 9:58 AM by Martin Walker

CODA: Introduction

At the request of my partners, this is the first of periodic messages that I will post on the Next Level website under the title of “Coda.” Coda refers to a concluding event, remark, or section.  This is a last incidental section on the website that certainly is not particularly important. Evidently Craig thinks that, because I have more gray hair than anyone on the NLV team, I might have something worth saying. The beauty of the written word, however, is that you can quit reading at any time.


Everything I write will be influenced by my upbringing and nearly 80 years of living life. My biases come from growing up on a farm in Iowa, following the rules to complete 22 years of formal education, working five years in a quasi-government agency, serving for 10 years as a university professor, spending five years in corporate America, and finally completing over 30 years in private equity and venture investing. During that time, I was fortunate to have several influential mentors, the most important of whom was my dad. 


If he were here, he would be skeptical that I would have much to say. He was a farmer philosopher and a man of few words, but he always kept me humble with his subtle insights such as, “Too soon old—too late smart,” “Five years of experience is different from one year of experience five times,” and “Let’s make some new mistakes for a change.” When I told him I was going on to get a PhD degree after my MS degree, he said, “Just how long does it take for you to get smart?”


In launching my new writing career, I do offer one disclaimer. As an academic, I was faithful to the scientific method in which you formulated hypotheses, collected evidence, performed analyses, and drew conclusions. Now I am no longer encumbered by the rules of the scientific method. I simply transform observation and experience into opinion.


I look forward to the challenge of coming up with something new and interesting to say each month. You will be the judge as to whether I succeed.  



Duane Harris, Partner at Next Level Ventures, has over 30 years of experience in academics, business management, and private equity investing. He holds a PhD from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MS and BS from Iowa State University, where he also served as a professor.