Joe Sinsheimer is the Managing Director of the Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN), the NC State-affiliated angel group. Sinsheimer has been involved in angel investing for 25 years. He has been a member of four different angel groups and also was the manager of his own venture fund, Sunflower Ventures I, which focused on the adtech and marketing industries. Sinsheimer also was the founder and president of The Sinsheimer Group, a political consulting and crisis communications company, from 1992-2004. During that time, Sinsheimer worked on 135 campaigns across the country as well as for six Fortune 500 companies.
Sinsheimer also was a co-founder and CFO of Digital Education Systems, a Denver-based company focused on training software developers on open source technologies, and has served on the board of a half dozen private companies.
In 2007, Sinsheimer was the winner of the North Carolina Press Association’s William C. Lassiter First Amendment Award for his work on the jimblackmustgo.com campaign. Sinsheimer has a dual degree in History and Religion from Duke University. Sinsheimer is married to Dr. Toddi Steelman, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.
1. What is in your pockets?
Totally empty at the moment. Usually it’s an iPhone as I tend to travel light.
2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
So I think for us at Wolfpack Investor Network, we’re now closing our third transaction over a million dollars in the last six months, which is a number I thought was almost inconceivable when we started Wolfpack Investor Network two years ago. The other thing is the diversity of those investments; one is in artificial intelligence and machine learning, one of those opportunities is in therapeutics and the third is in vegetable-based proteins. So, incredibly diverse opportunities, which shows the robust nature of the Triangle ecosystem.
I think people know that NC State has a robust engineering department, but they forget about all these other corners of the university that are world-class as well including the vet school, food science, and textile development. We have thousands of university alumni that are in the life science industry doing amazing things. There are lots of parts of the NC State story that remain untold to the general public and WIN is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of those corners of the university that are really world-class.
3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
Third Place in Five Points and Jubala on Hillsborough Street. I’m doing three or four coffee appointments a week. I move around so I get to taste it all. I also own stock in Starbucks so sometimes want to feed the meter there too.
4. What keeps you up at night?
Two things. One is the economic turn, because anytime you are doing venture investing the macro business environment matters. We’ve been in a bull market now for six-, maybe seven-plus years, so a [potential] turn in the economy keeps me up. The second is just the instability in Washington. And the two issues may be related, which is maybe that the inability of getting anything done in Washington is what finally damages the U.S. economy.
5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
My favorite restaurant in Research Triangle Park is C & T Wok in Morrisville. No one has ever heard of that place but that is where all the ethnic Chinese people in the Park eat. Best Chinese food in the Triangle. And then my favorite unknown restaurant inside the beltline is Hummingbird. It’s a small plate restaurant so you get the chance to try lots of different dishes, with a lot of vegetarian fare as well. But it is small plates style, which, if you’re going with a group, that’s a really fun way to eat together as opposed to everyone ordering their own entrée.
6. What is next for you or your organization?
What’s next is hopefully some IPOs in the Triangle, Pendo and others, basically putting the Triangle back on Silicon Valley’s attention screen.
What’s next for WIN is we are growing; we’re adding a third person. We are predominately a Triangle-based entity right now but we definitely want to spread our wings across the state of North Carolina and invest in more places and recruit members from more places.