Patent licensing—from initial conversations with a customer to actually closing a deal—can be an immensely complex, delicate and lengthy process.
“It’s on the order of magnitude of years, not months, that we get deals done,” says Kelly Roche, a portfolio director with the Invention Investment Fund (IIF) at Intellectual Ventures. “You need to be adaptive enough, agile enough, to anticipate where things are going to be moving, so you can provide guidance that is necessary to get things done.”
Kelly has been with IV for more than seven years, and he’s worked on patent licensing from a number of angles. He started in market strategy and analytics and later shifted to roles in business and program development, supporting the patent sales team. Now, in his current position he is responsible for monetization strategy, which involves managing two analysts. He’s had to develop new skills and perspectives with each role, and he says that state of constant learning—of forward, proactive thinking—is one of the hallmarks of his experience at IV.
“You’ve got to be curious and interested in learning a lot of different things,” he says. “I think that is indicative of inventing something, starting something, building something, where you need to have a depth of knowledge, but you also have to have the breadth of knowledge and the ability to learn new things quickly to be successful.”
Kelly was born in California and actually grew up in Santa Clara, only a few miles from where he works in IV’s current Silicon Valley office. After high school, he attended New York University, where he earned dual degrees in finance and economics. He enjoyed his three years there, but ultimately the weather—as well as the pull of family and his girlfriend (now wife)—tugged him home to California after graduation. He keenly remembers one spring surprise, in fact, that finally broke his spirit. “I’m in class,” he says, “and it starts snowing outside in April, and I’m like, ‘This is ridiculous. I’ve got to get out of here.’”