An elementary-only independent school located in Atlanta, serving children ages three through Sixth Grade since 1951.
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Catching Up with Ross Baird '97

By Margaret Douglas, Director of Advancement
Ross Baird ’97 and his venture firm, Village Capital, have been highlighted in numerous publications, including features
in Forbes magazine. After Trinity, Baird attended The Westminster Schools in Atlanta and then graduated from Phillips
Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government and foreign affairs from the University
of Virginia and a Master of Philosophy in comparative government from the University of Oxford in England, where
he attended as a Marshall Scholar. Baird and his wife, Jen, currently reside in Washington D.C.
 
Q: Tell us about your time at Trinity. What are some of your greatest memories?
A: The best part about Trinity was the freedom to create and explore. In First Grade, a few of us finished the class
reading list, and Ms. Sallie helped us develop our own reading list. We saw the Sixth Graders reading White Fang.
We said, “We can do that,” and we did. In Fourth Grade, my classmates and I decided we would set the
Wagon Train record and we beat the fastest group to Oregon by two days and still hold the record.
 
Q: What started you on this career path?
A: Trinity made me realize early on that I could develop new ideas and that they were worth pursuing. I’ve
always been interested in what I do today—entrepreneurship: discovering, developing, and promoting new
ideas—though that was never a career path. In college, I studied politics and government because I believe they are
the closest things to entrepreneurship that schools offer. When I was at the University of Virginia, I developed a startup idea
to help teach civic education. At Trinity, we had “mock elections” every presidential election year and learned
what the most important public issues were. I didn’t see that at other schools, so a friend and I developed a technology
platform to help teach kids civics. I was fortunate enough to have an early investor in this idea named
Bob Pattillo, who backed the idea. The civic education platform was somewhat successful, but the bigger success was my great relationship
with Bob. After completing graduate school, I moved back to Atlanta to work for him, developing andinvesting in new startup ideas that
could change the world.

Q: What is Village Capital?
A: Village Capital is a venture firm that finds, supports, and invests in business ideas that will improve the world. I
developed the firm to invest in new businesses that will have positive impacts on society. We invest in
entrepreneurs in the health, education, energy, agriculture, and financial services sectors who are solving major
societal problems. Over the past seven years, we’ve invested in more than 70 companies around the world.
Perhaps most exciting, and most important, is that Village Capital invests in entrepreneurs who are in
society’s blind spots. Trinity taught me the inherent value of everyone, regardless of who you are, or where you come from,
and I think that our innovation economy under-values most ideas. More than 90 percent
of my firm’s investments are in cities outside of New York and San
Francisco, with several in Atlanta. Forty percent are led by women CEOs and 20 percent have African-American and Latino founders.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Village Capital?
A: The idea came from my time as both a student at the University of Virginia and an employee of a startup bank in India.
At UVA, I was fascinated by the design of Thomas Jefferson’s “Academical Village,” where students and teachers
lived next to each other on the lawn at the center of the university. Jefferson suggested that innovation and true
learning do not happen with the top-down delivery of knowledge from expert to learner; instead, teachers and
students are side by side and teachers facilitate learning, from hard knowledge to useful information, through a free
exhange of ideas and concepts.



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