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By: Rick Zullo, Co-Founder & GP @ Equal Ventures

When Rich and I were starting Equal Ventures, there was a lot we didn’t know about starting a venture fund. Scarier than that was that we didn’t know, what we didn’t know. The prospect of starting a new venture fund is both exciting and terrifying. Each of us had significant track records with our prior firms, but starting and running a great firm is a lot different than simply investing in great companies.

Ultimately, we made a lot of mistakes. To say that our initial pitch sucked, would be too kind…


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Today SmartHop announced the close of a Series A round led by Rebecca Kaden of Union Square Ventures. This represents a tremendous (and well deserved) milestone for a company that is truly transforming the trucking value chain.

We first announced our investment in SmartHop in July and shared the story of how Equal and SmartHop came together. Since then, the company has experienced incredible growth, extended its array of products (offering fuel cards, factoring and leasing to our drivers), established countless partnerships with brokers, and become one of the largest sources of loads in the country. …


by Rick Zullo, Co-Founder & GP @ Equal Ventures

At Equal Ventures, we believe that leveraging technology to solve the challenges of climate change will represent one of the most pressing and important innovation dilemmas of our lifetime. While some of these challenges will be solved by advances in power generation technologies and material sciences, tremendous efficiencies are lost due to misalignments in the value chain. Nowhere is this more obvious than in energy efficiency for commercial buildings.

Buildings represent just under 40% of US energy consumption and present tremendous opportunity for increased efficiency. An oft-cited McKinsey report suggests that…


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By: Rick Zullo and Chelsea Zhang

We believe 2021 will represent a transformational year for supply chain technology and we are keen to find solutions that enhance transparency, connectivity, and autonomy across the entire ecosystem.

The media believes that investor sentiment will sustain with Freight Waves claiming “2020 will be the biggest year on record … early stage investors….see supply chain and freight tech as a sure thing for placing their sector bets.” Pitchbook echoes this narrative, “we anticipate VC funding toward the [supply chain technology] space to increase as investors deploy capital into last-mile delivery, warehousing tech, and other…


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By: Rick Zullo and Simran Suri

2021 is poised to be a blockbuster year in climate tech, thanks to the intersection of three key catalysts. First, the economics of new energy are starting to make sense. The cost of clean energy is coming down, as the number of system installations rises and tech becomes more sophisticated. Second, funding is more material now than ever before. We’ve seen more and more investors look towards climate and the announcements of several new climate-focused funds. $29B was deployed into green businesses across the North American venture landscape in 2020. …


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Themes from investors, founders, & executives in the InsurTech landscape

By: Rick Zullo and Ali Afridi

2020 was a defining year for the InsurTech ecosystem as a confluence of factors brought startups & tech-forward insurance companies into the spotlight. COVID-19 forced companies across the insurance value chain to accelerate digital transformation efforts to effectively operate in the new world. This catalyzed the adoption of new products across departments and ushered in a wave of IPOs with Lemonade, Root, GoHealth, Clover Health, and several other big InsurTech startups going public.

Going into 2021, we anticipate several catalysts will drive changes across the ecosystem. On the backs of digital transformation efforts accelerating…


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THE benefits placement system connecting carriers and brokers

By: Rick Zullo, Co-Founder & GP @ Equal Ventures

Today, we’re excited to announce the funding and rebranding of ThreeFlow, a benefits placement system that creates a shared environment between brokers and carriers. While today is a major milestone for the ThreeFlow team, this story is multiple years in the making.

We first met Ryan (ThreeFlow’s co-founder and CEO) just as Equal was getting started. The company had been known as WatchTower Benefits (as it was up until yesterday) and was introduced to me by my long-time friend and Equal LP, Shawn Ellis of NFP. Shawn was CEO of a…


By: Rick Zullo, Co-Founder & GP @ Equal Ventures

I first met Ali nearly 5 years ago. He was finishing his senior year at the University of Illinois and was referred to me by Spencer Lazar, who was a VC at General Catalyst at the time. Ali had spent his summer working with the team at GC and Spencer had suggested that I get to know Ali given that we were both in the Chicago area (I was at Lightbank at the time). We had no intention of hiring anyone at the time but were blown away by Ali’s intelligence…


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We’re excited to launch a new program at Equal Ventures to connect talented generalists early in their careers with early-stage companies in our network. Through the program, participants will be matched with Chief of Staff opportunities in a mutually agreed upon startup where the operators will work directly with the C-suite.

In addition to working with the startup, our team will work with the individuals through regular training and educational programming to help them accelerate their career development and set them up for more senior operating roles, founding a company, or for roles in the venture industry.

We will be…


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We’re excited to kick-off a new initiative at Equal Ventures to work with experienced Operators to explore opportunities for building and launching new ventures. Over the course of the program, we’ll provide a select group of operators to diligence a few market opportunities together and connect them with other high caliber operators and executives.

We’ve written about the areas we consider our ‘Majors’ in a recent post on some of our Key Investment Areas. However, we welcome applications from operators with interests across other sectors and areas as well.

Given the pandemic, the program will be completely remote and we’ll…

Equal Ventures

Bridging the Digital Divide

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