‘LUMO Labs is the place for hungry entrepreneurs’

Interview with E. David Ellington, founder of Silicon Valley Blockchain Society

This article was published originally on Innovation Origins. It is reposted here with permission. 

“There’s a surprising, unusual window of opportunity – one that promises to open wider with Brexit and the change in administrations coming in 2021.”

The story of how David Ellington joined the LUMO Labs Scientific and Industry Advisory board is the story of how a European innovator impressed a player from The Valley, an investor. Because of his global connections, Ellington is a keen observer of the evolving relationship between the post-Trump United States and the Netherlands.

With typical American modesty, serial entrepreneur David Ellington describes himself as a been-there, done-that guy who’s circled the globe 10 times at least. Traveled to 17 cities and 100 villages in India. Lived in Tokyo. Did a master’s degree in African politics. Studied in Singapore. Worked at a law firm in Bangkok. Lived in Paris and London.

Advocate, deal-maker, and influencer
Now Ellington is a San Francisco-based block-chain advocate, deal-maker, and influencer. When he and LUMO Labs founder Andy Lürling met, it was – fittingly – in the fabled Big Sur thought-leader retreat Esalen Institute, where Ellington was chillin’ and Andy was attending an AI conference.

The chance meeting was the start of a cross-pollination of two distinct ecosystems – world-dominating Silicon Valley and the high-tech capital of Europe.

Andy was not what David was expecting… a European he calls “super entrepreneurial.”

“I think Andy is hungry. I find that unusual among most of the Europeans I meet in terms of the kind of entrepreneurial energy I’m used to in The Valley/Bay Area.

In fact, Andy fits right in in Silicon Valley, he said. “His ambition. His hunger. His eagerness to learn. From the latest technology to how to structure a deal to how to network… these are the things he’s comfortable doing, and I found this a little bit unusual from my usual dealings with folks I meet on the Continent.”

“Then I found out he’s a race car driver and that kind of explains a bit of it. That’s his personality.” To be clear, Andy Lürling is not actually a racecar driver but has tested advanced technology in high-performance sports cars.

“More of an allocator”
Lürling knew about Ellington’s background in business and became active in his Silicon Valley Blockchain Society. He also knew about Ellington’s history as an institutional investor with connections to limited partners, the people, and institutions that invest in venture capital, and was hoping to leverage those relationships.

Ellington is a strategic advisor with a foothold in Silicon Valley – the Bay Area and San Francisco, and in technology and finance. Institutional finance, in particular, is his field of expertise.

Ellington describes himself as “a follow-on (investment) guy, so I don’t claim to have an expertise as a venture capitalist. I’m more of an allocator. I’m used to working with limited partners and identifying fund managers. So, when Andy came along… I said, ‘If I was an LP writing a check, would I write a check to a guy like Andy?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I would.’ ”

Major endorsement
That’s a major endorsement for LUMO Labs and Eindhoven, because David Ellington’s resume is exceptional, starting with his law degree from Georgetown University Law School in Washington D.C., where he concentrated on international, corporate, and tax law. He completed Cornell University’s language program in Japanese.

He went on to found Emory Capital Group, a private investment vehicle he’s run for 13 years. He also founded NetNoir, an early social media platform in which a number of companies invested, including Time Warner.

Somewhere in there, he found the time to become a Trustee and President of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS), one of the largest pension systems in California with $25 billion in assets under management. Currently, he’s taking Silicon Valley Blockchain Society, a curated invitation-only blockchain investment platform with chapters located in financial capitals and startup ecosystems, around the world.

“I just think there’s a surprising, unusual window of opportunity”

Because of COVID-19 and the turmoil in the American political process, David is increasingly positive about the Netherlands, because it’s an English-speaking country with an incredible talent base and a long history of doing business globally. “I just think there’s a surprising, unusual window of opportunity – one that promises to open wider with Brexit and the change in administrations coming in 2021.”