We are founder-friendly investors who support and work with our companies.
As startup founders ourselves, we have experienced first-hand the excitement and challenges of starting and growing companies. The most successful startups have motivated, happy leadership with a strong, cohesive team culture. That’s why we put founders first: we strive to be friendly, reasonable and supportive because we think that maximizes the odds of business success.
We work closely with our founders and stay involved with our startups, putting the company’s needs and leadership team at the center of our relationship.
As supportive investors, it’s not enough to “pick the right horse”, write a check, and move on. A core competency of good investors is foresight: to see and anticipate how the “rules of the game” are evolving, to recognize trends that transcend sectors, and to pick-up on important, actionable, business and consumer patterns that yield new opportunities or demand a response. Keeping a close and frequent relationship with our companies lets us share these insights in real-time, and best position our companies for rapid growth and sustainable success.
Maintaining healthy dialogue and involvement empowers our entrepreneurs to navigate business choppiness as new challenges arise. Founders come first with us, and we strongly believe that happy, motivated, well-supported leaders are the foundation of a flourishing and successful startup.
Culture of Transparency
We are honest and direct in all our dealings.
We pride ourselves on being transparent about our thinking, and frank in our interactions. We are always supportive with our entrepreneurs, but part of our role is to provide objective feedback and thoughts even if they don’t align with a founder’s view. We commit to being direct and speaking “hard truths” when needed; we don’t sweep issues under the rug or tip-toe around different points of view in the name of politeness. In our experience, healthy, straightforward discussion of salient issues with intelligent, thoughtful entrepreneurs drives success—and ultimately a more nimble, innovative company culture.
Unparalleled Strategic Support
Decades of Business Model Experience
You can lean on us for strategic advice and business development expertise.
With decades of combined investing experience, across asset classes, sectors, geographies and company maturities, we are business model experts. We have analyzed thousands of business plans, strategies, and monetization models. Over time, we have garnered the perspective and wisdom to learn how each of these “case studies” played out. We enjoy a sharp sense of what strategies worked, under what circumstances, and the key factors that determined success. Similarly, we have seen which approaches do not work, and can help avoid dangerous pitfalls.
We Offer You Our Time & Expertise
We offer our expertise and time, not just our funds and opinions.
Often, we schedule “sit-ins” that can be a few hours, or span several days, to review and discuss plans, help with budgeting and planning, or with general business development. We believe in offering time and expertise, not just funding, to startups. We help analyze various monetization approaches, selling and sales strategies, strategic partnerships, prepare for complex negotiations, augment competitive analyses, fine-tune how best to exploit your company’s competitive advantages, and much more.
We See Patterns Others Miss
Decades of combined experience analyzing commercial situations and strategy yield unique, actionable insights for you that others overlook.
Our breadth of experience is unique and brings a 360-degree view to each commercial challenge. Many early-stage investors are not business model experts; they often come from industry with mostly operational backgrounds, leaving them with a deep but narrow perspective on what drives long-term success. Although useful if your business perfectly overlaps with their past expertise, it’s easy for sector-focused investors, or those coming from industry, to miss the forest for the trees as their experience is definitionally tighter in scope.
Yet, remarkably similar business challenges and opportunities arise repeatedly across unrelated sectors, and at different points in time. These repetitions are an opportunity for savvy observers to rapidly isolate important commercial patterns, distinguish fads from trends, and understand the strategic similarities between superficially distinct situations. Ultimately, we see parallels other narrower investors and operators miss, which affords our founders a strategic advantage they can act on.
Said differently, we are uniquely positioned to learn from all corners of the economy, not just a narrow subset. This improved learning efficiency, and specialization in analyzing businesses as opposed to any one product, empowers us to better separate ephemeral crazes from durable shifts in behavior, pivot strategies in anticipation of shifting trends, and to best position our startups for future success. These are essential observations when making product design, market segmentation, or even hiring and operational decisions.
Ultimately, we draw from a broader, more robust pool of experience when crafting and tweaking strategy with our startups, and this enhanced foresight leads to better business outcomes.
Most startups will encounter many critical “forks in the road” and difficult decisions. Our ability to see parallels which transcend sectors and business models gives us a sharp commercial edge when choosing the best path forward with you.
Access to Proprietary Market Data
We can provide access to market research and data that is otherwise only the purview of mature, global companies.
Our backgrounds investing in mature, global companies mean we have access to proprietary market research and data across many sectors and geographies. These tools, and this uncommon “data edge” can be a powerful competitive advantage for our portfolio companies, and is rare among early-stage investor
Broad Advisory Network that Spans Hundreds of Thousands of Experts
We offer a broad advisory network with access to several hundred thousand experts, as well as in-house scaling and operations advisors.
Startups face an intimidatingly large set of possible paths forward: choosing among various business models, focusing on the right market sub-segments, selecting from various product designs, evaluating numerous business development approaches, and shifting hiring needs. Founders, therefore, are tasked with rapidly evaluating wide swaths of disconnected strategic options. Said differently, early-stage companies face a largely unconstrained set of future options, compared to mature companies which evaluate just a handful of rather similar strategic options. Breadth of expertise, therefore, is essential for early-stage companies. Paradoxically, broad expertise is often out of reach for startups, as new companies have smaller, more focused founding teams and cannot afford to tap into consulting firms for ad-hoc advice.
Not surprisingly, for startups, speaking to 15 different advisors and experts about different commercial possibilities is usually more valuable than speaking to one expert 15 times. As a result, although we have in-house advisors that specialize in scaling and operations (which broadly apply to most startups), we have built out an advisory network that provides access to several hundred thousand experts across thousands of fields and geographies. Whether you want to talk to a satellite engineer about power consumption and signal processing, a pediatrician about whether or not they might recommend your company’s vitamin bar to their patients, or a senior executive at an established public company to better understand exit strategies and the competitive landscape – that’s exactly what our advisory capabilities are designed to facilitate.
We can connect you to advisors for phone calls, in-person meetings, more intensive seminar-style “teach-ins”, or just low-touch emails for more bitesize pieces of advice. In the end, we want our founders to think of us as a think-tank that can be tapped, whether it’s for agile development, market research questions, R&D advice, or abstract strategic issues. Startups face oceans of often-unrelated challenges, and we therefore crafted our advisory functions to be dynamic, broad and efficient.
We often know your next big customer, the perfect supplier or commercial partner, or just the right prospect for your next important hire.
Our direct network of portfolio companies and relationships with other investment firms are major assets for business development. We have made introductions for our portfolio companies which ended up being key suppliers, critical customers, or have led to key hires. When we don’t know the perfect contact to fill a specific business development need, we nearly always know someone who does, and we strive make even our indirect network accessible to our entrepreneurs.
Sophisticated Fundraising & Pitch Assistance
We provide top-caliber pitch-assistance, presentation coaching and capital-raising support, in addition to a fundraising network that scales with your company’s growth. Our past experience investing in mature companies allows us to think like your future investors and better plan for strategic exits and acquisitions: we can think like them, because we used to be them.
Our backgrounds investing in everything from small, pre-revenue startups to large, mature companies has organically created a powerful fundraising network that scales with your growth. We can facilitate introductions with early-stage investors, more advanced series investors, growth equity funds, high-net worth individuals and even private equity or public company investors. Unlike many early-stage investors, our institutional capabilities and funding grow with you.
Importantly, we don’t just hand over a rolodex and wish you good luck within our fundraising network. Having “worn the hat” of both early-stage and also mature company investors, we know exactly what they are looking for. We are intimately familiar with the different investment criteria, valuation frameworks, and distinct sub-types of institutional investors within a given asset and maturity class.
We know how each of these investors think, and what narrative they will best respond to, because in the past we ourselves have been these very investors. This experience is indispensable for facilitating strategic or acquisition-driven exits, and for crafting just the right marketing message and investor pitch to raise funds expeditiously and at a low cost of capital.
Our ability to “think like them” because in the past “we were them” also means you’ll get excellent coaching and rehearsals for fundraising presentations, critical negotiation support, and top-tier pitch-material help. Think of us as fundraising strategists and valuation experts, but also capital-raising networkers and experienced “fundraising coaches” who will closely support you through subsequent capital raises.
Broader, Bespoke Toolkit of Financing Options
Although uncommon, we have experience with esoteric financing, which can be highly efficient, in the right circumstances, to prevent unnecessary founder dilution and accelerate growth.
Our differentiated past experience with larger companies and complex, special situations investing makes us familiar with clever, more bespoke ways to fund growth at a lower overall cost of capital. Throughout a company’s lifecycle, there are occasionally situations to substitute expensive, dilutive equity financing with alternative structures that are far more efficient from the entrepreneur’s perspective but fall outside the scope of traditional VC financing. Not surprisingly, most early-stage investors are unfamiliar with bespoke financing options. Often, traditional VC investors are unable or unwilling to venture beyond off-the-shelf equity, convert, or “SAFE” structures simply due to a lack of familiarity with alternative financing, such as bridge-financing, asset-backed financing, and other less common funding structures. As a result, traditional VCs can overlook sensible opportunities to reduce dilution and lower cost of capital as the company grows. Our broader financial background means we always have an eye on bespoke financing options. When more efficient, we have the flexibility and expertise to take advantage of these options, minimize dilution, and maximize long-term founder ownership.