The Companies

Jun 2, 2015 · 3 min read

Well, it finally happened.

After years of overthinking and months of promoting, screening and interviewing companies, we finally held our kickoff week for Given the tight timelines, it was a mad scramble to pull the week together but Sarah did an exceptional job curating content that delivered valuable insights and fresh perspectives for the participating teams. Bravo Sarah!

The message of has been a tough one to articulate. Having taken a few stabs at it we could only hope that what we were aiming for would somehow find those for whom it was obvious- despite our clumsy delivery. The hope from this point forward is that the companies participating in this experiment, will tell our story, and embody the values of, far more clearly than any blog post we’ve written could.

So, who are they?

  1. Fishbit- connected devices for managing ecosystems
  2. Fohr Card- marketplace for creatives and influencers
  3. Kithub- electronics kits for kids
  4. Myavana- hair products and recommendations for women of color
  5. re:3D- large format 3D printing for industrial applications
  6. Stashe- tools and services for designers
  7. Storq- apparel and gear for parents
  8. Tapster Robotics- automated testing for touch screens
  9. The Shade Room- celebrity gossip and news

We wanted to find 8 companies, in the end, we picked 9..

Given the nature of the experiment, we wanted to optimize around certain dimensions of diversity to test against. Those dimensions include:

  • Geography- of the 9 companies 3 are based in the Bay Area, 2 in LA, 1 in Austin, 1 in Atlanta, 1 in Chicago and 1 in NYC.
  • Revenue- the group includes 1 pre-launch company, 6 early revenue generating companies, and 2 companies with revenues in excess of $1M.
  • Product Types- 5 of the companies sell or ship physical products, 4 are purely digital.
  • Product/Market Fit- some of the participating companies clearly have product market fit, many do not.
  • Structure- 3 of the companies were LLCs, 6 were C Corps.
  • Gender- 5 of the 9 participating teams have female founders.
  • Other- founders within this group represent a range different races and sexual orientations.

As we’ve stated from the beginning, is not designed to be an impact fund, a gender focused fund or a way to give back and/or settle for a lower return profile.

It’s an experiment.

And one rooted in finding, organizing and working with founders who want nothing less than to build large, scalable businesses on their own terms. The diversity of this first group represents fertile soil where we can test and measure for whom this approach works best and for whom what we have to offer doesn’t move the needle.

After spending a week together in SF, we couldn’t be happier with the participating teams. Noting the diversity above, we also note a shared drive to build and scale their businesses outside of the traditional VC framework. Hearing shared stories of growing teams, opening offices and launching products funded by their own revenue and resources has been deeply gratifying so far.

We’re still solidly in the honeymoon phase of this, but is a real a thing now.

Their thing.

And, hopefully, their stories will tell ours better than we ever could.

    Bryce Roberts

    Written by

    VC, Dad

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