Posts Tagged: first round capital

Announcing Version One Ventures

I am excited to announce today the launch of Version One Ventures, a new $15 million micro-VC fund. Version One will back outstanding web and mobile entrepreneurs across North-America with $250,000 to $500,000 investments in Seed and Series A rounds.

The fund builds on my successes with over 35 angel investments which include six exits – among them acquisitions by Google, Twitter, Salesforce, and Groupon. My simple investment thesis: back passionate entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a big problem with a strong product vision.

Version One came to life in the same way that most start-ups evolve. I bootstrapped my first angel investing projects with my own funds, found product-market fit and in the past 2 years have gotten significant traction with exits and follow-on rounds for portfolio companies (most recently for social publisher Wattpad, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo and educational network Edmodo).

With the Internet rapidly moving into everybody’s hands, today’s entrepreneurs will be in the position to build the companies we all dreamt of in 1999 when I started my own start-up JustBooks.The timing was therefore right to take my “angel investing project” to the next level and create a larger fund with a big vision: to become one of the most respected early-stage funds in North-America by being a trusted and helpful partner for entrepreneurs.

As a former entrepreneur myself, I feel the most rewarding aspect of being an investor is to help other entrepreneurs start, build and scale companies and to pass on some of the lessons I learned the hard way over 8 start-up years. Helping others to achieve greatness is what venture capital is all about and how I see my role.

I am fortunate to have found outstanding investors who share this vision. Led by Jeff Mallett (the former President and COO of Yahoo), Version One Ventures is backed by over a dozen successful American and Canadian Internet entrepreneurs as well as a number of high-net worth individuals.

Version One’s typical investment will be $250K to $500K in Seed and Series A financing rounds in consumer Internet, e-commerce, SaaS and mobile companies. To date Version One has already made 5 investments: Top Hat Monocle (interactive learning platform), Julep (multi-channel beauty brand), Jobber (business management software for contractors), Instacanv.as (Instagram artist marketplace) and Sunnytrail (social intelligence platform).

I am very grateful to a number of people who have helped me grow as an investor, especially Albert Wenger and Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures, Jeff Clavier from SoftechChris Fralic from First Round Capital and Christoph Braun from Acton Capital. Thank you for your support and mentorship.

Version One is open for business – stay tuned (@versiononevc)!

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New investment: Chloe & Isabel, a direct sales platform for fashion jewelry

One thing that we investors always look for in entrepreneurs is deep domain knowledge paired with an extreme passion for the product. And it is hard to find somebody more knowledgeable and passionate about fashion jewelry than Chantel Waterbury, the CEO and founder of Chloe & Isabel. Chantel has worked more than a decade for brands like Cartier, Tiffany and Co., and Van Cleef and Arpels and has developed jewelry for almost every major retailer in the United States – talk about deep, deep domain knowledge. Her start-up, Chloe & Isabel, is set to revamp the direct sales industry in the fashion jewelry space (and $100+ billion industry worldwide) through a direct sales platform that provides sellers with personalized store fronts and the ability to make data driven recommendations.

It is a big opportunity and I am very excited to be part of it – looking forward to working again with First Round Capital, one of the lead investor in the Chloe & Isabel financing, and – most importantly – Chantel and her team!

P.S.: If you live in NYC and would like to get a chance to join Chloe & Isabel’s launch party this week, here is your chance.

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Pitching day

The GROW conference has brought dozens of high-profile VC’s and super-angels to Vancouver which presents a wonderful opportunity for many local start-ups to get exposure to out-of-town investors. So today is “pitching day” jointly organized by W Media Ventures and Bootup Labs. 7 companies will take the stage: CompassEngine (location-based gaming platform), EmpireAvenue (influence stock market), Fitbrains (casual brain fitness games), Indochino (tailor-made suits over the Internet), Rival Apps (fantasy sports games), Summify (social news reader) and Weddingful (lead-gen for wedding vertical).

We are extremely excited to have over 20 investors from more than 15 funds attending the event:

  • Shawn Abbott, iNovia
  • Chris Albinson, Panaroma Capital
  • Chris Arsenault, iNovia
  • Jonas Brandon, Rogers Ventures
  • Roger Chabra, Rho Canada
  • Rob Chaplinsky, Bridgescale
  • Jeff Clavier, Softtech
  • JS Cournoyer, Founders Fuel
  • Rob Hayes, First Round Capital
  • Scott Jacobson, Madrona Venture Group
  • Paul Kedrosky
  • Anthony Lee, Altos Ventures
  • Mike Lee, Rogers Ventures
  • Jevon MacDonald, Innovacorp
  • Dave McClure, 500Startups
  • Maria Pacella, Growthworks
  • Tim Porter, Madrona Venture Group
  • Kalle Radage, BDC
  • Mike Satterfield, Yaletown Ventures
  • Aydin Senkut, Felicis
  • Jason Stoffer, Maveron
  • John Stokes, Montreal Startup / Founders Fuel

Thanks to all of you for coming – I sure hope that you will recognize that Vancouver and Western Canada are home to many exciting start-ups.

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What GROW means for the Vancouver tech community

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For the next 3 days the Valley descends on Vancouver for the GROW conference and you can feel a real excitement in the local tech community about hosting entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh (Zappos) or Andrew Mason (Groupon) as well as investors like Rob Hayes (First Round Capital), Dave McClure (500 Startups), Jeff Clavier (Softtech) or Chris Albinson (Panorama Capital) here in town. Building a company outside of the hot spots of the Valley or NYC is sometimes a tough undertaking despite many success stories – entrepreneurs don’t have the same easy access to experienced talent, mentors or investors and have fewer opportunities to learn from peers. So having close to a hundred top notch tech entrepreneurs and investors coming into town gives the Vancouver tech community a real boost and will provide some fantastic learning and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs from here and the rest of Canada.

Big thanks to Debbie Landa from Dealmaker Media for organizing the event, really hope this will turn into an annual conference!

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Yapta: first investment in Seattle, third in the travel space

As already announced last week, Seattle-based Yapta just closed a $2 million Series B led by Voyager Capital and I am very happy to announce that W Media participated in this round. Yapta is a online travel shopping service that monitors airfare and hotel prices for travelers. Led by CEO Tom Romary, the company has not only built up some significant traction over the past year but was also very successful in attracting top talent and top investors (the major investor besides Voyager Capital being First Round Capital). I have spent a considerable amount of time in Seattle since the beginning of the year and am really impressed by the consumer Internet scene there so I am hopeful that we will see more Seattle investments by W Media in the next little while. Looking forward to be part of the Yapta story going forward, with now 3 investments in the travel space (Escapio.com and Tripsbytips.com being the other two) this vertical is becoming increasingly important for the company.