Five Things to Expect From Your Seed Investor

It’s been nearly 8 years since I raised my last seed round and 1 year since I led my first seed investment. In both cases, the entrepreneurs were in their twenties, the businesses had interesting traction… and the companies faced some intense challenges. As an entrepreneur I can look back and draw a bit from those experiences, and now as I wear the investor’s hat I appreciate anew those challenges because I see the critical role seed investors play in backstopping founders solving big problems. What should an entrepreneur expect from their seed investor? Here’s what hits home for me, in no particular order: Safe conversations and tough love. I’ve never understood the posturing that occurs by founders to their investors–especially in board meetings. Summarizing events since the last board meeting or investor update would be ok if founders needed their backers to only serve as an audience…but in reality, they need to help move big rocks! So let’s talk less and spend more time finding the right leverage to lift those rocks. This means we have to talk and identify the obstacles, which requires trust and working through our discomfort in talking about sensitive problems. You get the idea. Maybe with partners, customers and all other external stakeholders, some level of puffing is to be expected, but with your investor partner, get to a “safe” zone early and often.  At the same time, your investor should not be a pushover—and you shouldn’t be looking for one. Presumably, when you raised, you did so knowing that you had blind spots and that new minds with and occasional muscle to...

Backing Degreed’s mission to jailbreak the degree

It’s a good night when you can enjoy college basketball at its best alongside friends. It’s a great night when you’re enjoying the game alongside friends like Chris McCarthy and others with whom I’ve worked alongside building businesses at Zinch, Chegg, & now Degreed. Yesterday, Degreed announced a series A raise led by Signal Peak Ventures in which we at Peak Ventures also participated; we are delighted to be one of the investors backing this amazing team. Here’s why: Vision: Degreed is redefining how we measure and think of learning. I met David Blake, founder and CEO of Degreed, in 2008 when he joined our founding team at Zinch. We set out to change how colleges viewed students-this was only a starting point for Dave. As he perfectly explained today to an audience at the ASU+GSV Summit, he has long held an interest in how we measure learning and education. That interest grew into a passion that has blossomed into an obsession. Simply put, whereas most of us default to where we went to college or what we majored in, one’s education is more completely captured over time by not only what we learn in a formal setting, but informally and through our experiences. Enter Degreed and their vision: “Jailbreaking the Degree.” + Execution: Dave’s vision for education is playing out after a gritty persistence that endears anyone familiar with Degreed’s history. Sometimes getting to execution is just a patient journey dotted with sacrifice. It’s hanging on long enough to find the right complementary pieces and partners. It’s finding the leverage in the business, and business model, that takes...

Our investment in Molio

Earlier this month, Molio announced a $3M raise, in which we participated alongside Greycroft Partners, True Ventures, Subtraction Capital, and Advancit Capital.   For those of us in Utah, or for those anywhere who have enjoyed the commercial success of Orabrush on Youtube, it’s exciting to now see the team, led by Jeff Davis, building tools that capture some of the genius of Orabrush and scale it to other products and services. There are a few themes to Molio that are part of why we backed the team and are believers in their business: Top talent converging in Utah: Jeff and his partners, Scott and Brent, represent what is happening along the Wasatch front– talented individuals who have decided on joining a startup in Utah.  10 years ago one or any of the three of these guys would likely not have been here.  Joining a startup?  Yes.  Tackling a big opportunity?  Yes.  But plotting themselves at the point of the mountain between Draper and Lehi?  Not likely. Online to offline:  pardon the buzzword(s)… but this is where the business gets really interesting.  Molio’s technology and ability to hyper-customize video marketing campaigns will, with time, drive measurable sales to retail brick & mortar locations.  When you consider what this means for some of the large chains alone, the ROI potential in video marketing is dramatically changed from how most measure it today. Finally, if you get the chance to stop by Molio hq, check out what Brent did with the room signage throughout their space...

StartSLC– a showcase for startups and the startup covering them

Make no mistake, Beehive Startups is one of Utah’s most active and interesting startups. Over the last few days in particular, amid the energy surrounding StartSLC, I couldn’t help but marvel that it was a startup making this all happen. How appropriate—the very company backing hustlers was doing it by pulling off a monumental effort of hustle. So I started walking through how I would view Beehive as I would one of the startups that we meet. There’s lots of ways to assess early-stage companies and they all end up as permutations or variations of one another. We like to look at companies by what we call internally “the five t’s.” Here they are and here’s how Beehive stacks up on theirs: Team. Clint Betts is scrappy, thoughtful, and a man on a mission. He’s also got the quality that is hard to put your finger on—one who doesn’t need to get in the last word and yet always makes a statement. Silent assassin was a description used by someone (Skonnard?) last week that may describe Clint best. Simply put, he’s a budding entrepreneur who is unequivocally adding value to the constituents he serves. What’s more, he rallied great people and if you paid attention, they not only put in the hours that you expect from a startup, but they did it with the level of execution and excellence that had to happen for it to work like it did. 10X. This is a function of the problem and size of market. Beehive isn’t slowing down and has meaningfully grown from a consistent and well-written blog to something much more.  ...

Our investment in Marketware

Bryce Bartel is leading a great team at Marketware and we’re proud to be backing the team and mission alongside Epic Ventures. Healthcare providers will have to continue to improve how they operate as a business or they, like individual universities or financial institutions, will suffer or simply go away.  The increasing expectation from consumers, whether they are patients, students or someone banking with you, is creating real winners and losers in each of these industries.   Marketware gives medical centers greater control over the health of their business through insight into customer comings and goings and the associated relevant data. Consider this scenario… when was the last time you were referred from your doctor or dentist to a specialist?  5 years ago I was personally caught up in a flurry of discussions happening with doctors in Salt Lake City, Boston, and London.  Our youngest daughter was born with some unique medical conditions and the question of who was best to assess and care for her needs went largely unanswered.  Long story short we put in the time needed to determine the best care for her/us and came away realizing we couldn’t just expect things to move along in this process without a conscious effort from the people affected most. What most of us, including me before our daughter, probably don’t think of, and what most health organizations don’t commonly track, is that process– thinking through a physician referral and the rhyme and reason to it (or if it exists at all).  What hospitals and consumers are realizing is that gone are the days when these things can be left to...
Page 4 of 6« First...23456