Carle Stenmark

The companies we partner with are founder-driven and managed by passionate people—people I genuinely enjoy and respect.

Former entrepreneur himself (he ran a rather successful lawn-mowing business in middle school), Carle’s optimism and empathy are evident in all he does. Here’s how he maintains it.

Do well, be good

I think the fact that the brands and companies we work with all make positive, healthy contributions to the markets they serve makes us all feel pretty good.

Seeing another side

I attended an inner city public school so I was exposed to a great deal of diversity and other perspectives and upbringings. That helped me become aware of my own privilege and really shaped a lot of my values.

Mow money

In middle school, I started a lawn-mowing business and hired two buddies to manage all the demand. At our peak we were caring for over 16 different lawns.

We end up developing strong bonds as we work through tough issues.

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Your parents were both doctors. What did you learn from them?

My brothers and I learned the value of helping others, especially those less fortunate than us. That was instilled from the beginning. We also learned the importance of smiling.

Now that you mention it, you are a smiley guy.

Life’s too short not to enjoy it… and help others enjoy it along the way.

What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?

I grew up in Denver in a middle-class, fairly homogenous area. Fortunately I attended an inner city public school so I was exposed to a great deal of diversity and other perspectives and upbringings. That helped me become aware of my own privilege and really shaped a lot of my values. It fueled my commitment to community involvement.

You said you mowed lawns as a kid?

I guess it's a passion that evolved from an early age :). When I was four I asked for a vacuum cleaner for Christmas and my parents took advantage and delivered my wish. I guess somewhere along the way vacuuming morphed into mowing and in middle school I started a lawn-mowing business and hired two buddies to manage all the demand. At our peak we were caring for over 16 different lawns.

Impressive. So today you’re ‘caring’ for a group of entrepreneurs and brands. What do you most enjoy about that?

The companies we partner with are founder-driven and managed by passionate people— people I genuinely enjoy and respect. We end up developing strong bonds as we work collectively through tough issues to come up with solutions that really help their company and their brand. Naturally, we build great friendships along the way. These relationships will hopefully last well beyond any investment period.

Entrepreneurs have had to be self-reliant to defy the odds. Is it hard to get them to allow you to help them?

Well, first, we recognize that our role and theirs are very different. They have taken a tremendous amount of risk getting their company to where it is and wouldn’t be where they are if they took “no” for an answer and always listened to “reason”. Their company is truly their ‘baby.’ Our job is to augment their passion with additional resources and a data-driven approach. We are able to lend perspective on what has worked well for similar companies in similar situations and what hasn’t worked so well. Our partners tend to really appreciate that.

How would you describe the general vibe of VMG?

Open, collaborative, supportive, friendly...
I think the fact that the brands and companies we work with all make positive, healthy contributions to the markets they serve makes us all feel pretty good.

Are you smiling right now?

:)

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