Laurie Olivier – Venture capitalist learned to handle risk fighting off snakes

Posted by on Nov 26, 2007 in Business, South Africa, Technology, Venture Capital

Laurence (Laurie) Olivier, an Atlanta VC and ex-South African, was recently profiled in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Laurie is a partner in Veritas Venture Partners. Veritas has investments in the following Atlanta based companies: Clickfox, CytoDome, and Asankya. Laurie serves on the board of these companies. He is the Chairman of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce – Southeast Region and on the board of the Atlanta Venture Forum. Laurie is also instrumental in organizing the annual U.S.-Israel business exchange in Atlanta.In South Africa he currently serves as a technology commercialization advisor to the major government controlled research organization and the University of Pretoria. Laurie was born and raised in South Africa, and holds a B.Engineering (Electronics) from the University of Pretoria, and a B.Com (Hons) and Dip. Datametrics from the University of South Africa.Here is an extract from the Nov 23, 2007 article. Read the rest here.

Venture capitalists, particularly those who concentrate in early-stage investments, need diamond-hard nerves. Laurence “Laurie” Olivier, an Atlanta venture capitalist, got some good training early on. Growing up on a farm in northern South Africa with leopards, baboons and the ultradeadly black mamba, Olivier learned how to confront risk. “The biggest daily problems that we faced were snakes,” he said of his days on the farm in Groot-Marico, near the Botswana border and 150 miles north of Johannesburg. “There was seldom a week that had gone by where we did not kill at least a snake or two inside or very close to our house β€” some of the most poisonous snakes on earth, like the black mamba and the puff adder. “Olivier, who is distantly related to the famed British actor of the same name, is in somewhat less dangerous territory now, though still in a high-risk line of work: He runs the U.S. operations of Veritas Venture Partners, an Israeli venture capital firm with $100 million in assets under management that invests in early stage high-tech firms. An electrical engineer by training, Olivier, 47, was a former executive at Anglo-American Industrial Corp. in South Africa, where, in 1988 β€” at age 28 β€” he was tapped to run that company’s new business development unit. That work helped lay the foundation to what would eventually become his second career as a venture capitalist in 2000, the year he left Anglo-American to join Veritas.”My challenge was to find new businesses that we could start from scratch,” Olivier said. “One way to find new businesses was to scout for technologies, and one way of scouting for technologies was to actually invest in venture capital.”

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