Angus Davis

Rhode Island · NYC 🗽 Boston · London 💂 Silicon Valley
angus.davis@gmail.com


Entrepreneur & Investor

I began my start-up career at age 8, taking my grandmother's magazines, clipping articles, stapling them into my own creation and selling them door-to-door. My career as a media aggregator was short lived, but as a teen I joined one of America's first ISPs (Our class B was 155.212), where I built Web sites.

After creating the first online college application, I skipped college to become Netscape's youngest employee in 1996, where I worked with giants (marca, jimb) who were generous in teaching valuable lessons. I was product manager for our browser, worked on the anti-trust suit, and helped launch mozilla.org.

In 1999, I co-founded Tellme with Mike McCue. What followed were ten years of startup lessons learned. We built a profitable SaaS business with over $100 million in annual revenue. Our 300+ employees made speech recognition part of everyday life. We pioneered voice mobile search, years before "Siri." In 2007, Microsoft acquired Tellme for nearly $1 billion.

In 2009, I returned to New England to bring home a Silicon Valley spark, founding Upserve in Providence with a world-class team to help restaurateurs thrive. Our product puts everything a full-service restaurant needs in a single platform, including point of sale, analytics, payments and more.

Named "One of America's Most Promising Companies," Upserve became the fastest growing tech company in Rhode Island, recognized for 6 consecutive years as "Best Place to Work," and first RI firm on the Forbes 100 list. In 2018, after growing Upserve to more than 10,000 restaurants with over $12 billion in volume, and securing a strategic investment from Vista Equity, I transitioned from CEO to a board advisor role to pursue my next adventure as a VC.

My goal is to share what I learned over 20 years as a founder / operator / CEO to help others build and grow massive businesses, reaching new heights beyond those I achieved, and to continue learning along the way.

Education Reformer

I had an unusual educational path: skipping college to join "start-up U" in Silicon Valley. My parents gave me opportunities at great schools. I was lucky.

Unfortunately many low-income children, especially children of color, lack access to effective schools. America's achievement gap is perhaps the greatest civil rights injustice of my generation.

In 2007, Rhode Island Governor Carcieri appointed me to serve on the Board of Regents, the state's chief education policy-making body. Soon thereafter, working with Mayor Dan McKee, House leadership, CER, DFER, and others, we passed an ambitious expansion of RI's charter school law, ending a ban on such schools. We opened Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy and multiple Achievement First schools, some of which have become the state's highest-performing public schools, reversing the achievement gap. At these schools, low income students outperform wealthier peers, proving demographics do not determine a child's destiny.

Working alongside prominent local leaders, I shared the case for education reform. I recruited Teach for America to our state, and I recruited Deborah Gist to become RI's Commissioner of Education, the first change in leadership in 17 years. Our strategic plan to improve education won President Obama's Race to the Top, the largest competitive federal grant awarded in Rhode Island history ( $75 million, with another $50 million that followed).

I no longer serve on the Rhode Island Board of Regents, but I've continued working to scale up the new schools we started and to improve opportunities for kids.

Given the slow pace of policy change, this is a good start. But in the face of some of the largest achievement gaps of any state in the nation, Rhode Island has only just begun to address this daunting yet urgent inequity.


On the Web

Email: Sorry, due to volume, I may be slow or unable to respond to emails.

In the Press


Family

Rhode Island


Geoff, my dad, is one of the nation's best attorneys for life sciences.

Gina, my mom, spent her career working in financial services.

Spink Davis, my late grandfather, inspired my work on education reform.

Joanna inspires me to dream big. We have three boys: Ryder, Mac & Oscar.

Consider doing business in Rhode Island. The state boasts a great quality of life, four beautiful seasons (3 of which are fantastic), affordable homes, affordable office space, easy commute to Boston or NYC (3 hrs by train) or car). Our intellectual hubs at Brown, RISD, and other colleges provide a wealth of technology and design horsepower. We have a great cultural scene. Contact me if you're considering RI and I will give you a personal tour!