John Glushik, managing director at HG Ventures, is one of the 100 leading corporate venturing professionals in our 2024 Powerlist.

Powerlist 2024: John Glushik

Having been in the venture space for 25 years and the corporate venture space for six years, John Glushik is a veteran of the industry, with a firm grasp on which models work best and which do not. His mission as managing director at HG Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of the family- owned Heritage Group, has been to combine the best aspects of corporate venturing with that of pure venture, while avoiding the pitfalls of both.

HG Ventures has the benefit of being a large, privately owned company. This means it does not survive from quarter to quarter, and that stability allows it to think outside the box and build on a long-term vision. The Heritage Group has been going for 94 years and for the first 90 years it had a total of three CEOs. “Entrepreneurs need to know that you are with them for the long haul and you are not going to come and go depending on what is happening within your company,” says Glushik.

The venturing unit is also completely compartmentalised from the parent company, which means portfolio companies do not have to worry about a corporate getting access to their information.

When Glushik helped to set up HG Ventures in 2018, building in that total separation was intentional, to maximise the trust and benefit that HG Ventures can build for its portfolio companies. “Building trust is absolutely key. We want entrepreneurs to know they are coming in to a safe place,” says Glushik. Being separate also means they can move fast as a unit, and it can lead on deals.

However, when it comes to what to invest in, the unit only supports companies where it believes it can add value as a corporate partner – not the other way around. This is for two reasons: the first, says Glushik, is because “the value flows in both directions”; the second reason is that if the company is adding value, the financial returns will follow. “If you drive growth, you drive to profitability and the exits come to you,” says Glushik.

“Entrepreneurs need to know that you are with them for the long haul and you are not going to come and go depending on what is happening within your company”

One of the major highlights for Glushik during the past year has been helping to build the high-performance team. “We have built a world class team at HG Ventures. A super-high-functioning group that can really help our entrepreneurs, as well as integrating well with our parent company”. Glushik was instrumental in building and growing that team, and he also trained them on topics from leading through M&A and term-sheet development, to founder-VC relationship building. His passion for learning and, in turn, passing on that knowledge is obvious.

HG Ventures made 23 investments in the past year, including four new companies. It also supported 32 existing portfolio companies through periods of great growth and more challenging times. One company that Glushik is particularly excited about is Ohio-based Battle Motors, which develops and manufactures electric vocational trucks, including refuse vehicles and tractors. The company has been on an impressive growth trajectory over the past 12 months, and HG Ventures has helped to support that scaling journey. Glushik believes it is only a matter of time before it becomes a successful exit.

And while it is great to see portfolio companies thriving, Glushik notes that one of the most surprising things about the current venture market is how it has completely bifiurcated. “I have been in the in the venture space for 25 years, so I have seen many cycles and many types of market conditions. The biggest surprise to me over the past year is how bifurcated the venture market has become, more so than I have seen in the past,” he says. Some sectors, such as AI and water, have investment money pouring in, while others really struggle to secure the capital they need to grow. A big aim for Glushik and his team is to get all the companies in the portfolio to a position where they do not have to constantly worry about capital.

Glushik spent four years as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and nearly 19 years as a partner at venture firm Intersouth Partners, before joining HG in 2018. He has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke University, a master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and got an MBA at Northwestern.

Powerlist cover

The Global Corporate Venturing Powerlist represents the 100
individuals spearheading the future of the corporate venturing industry.

These individuals excel in terms of their venturing approach and structure, number and quality of portfolio companies and in their contributions to the corporate venturing profession.

See the full 2024 Powerlist here.