Life update: sabbatical + Vesper + angel investing

Note: I’m back at Accomplice full-time.

I’m about to go on a several month quest to build out marketing for a portfolio company I love (Vesper) and start doing a few angel deals. Let’s call this a tour of duty.

Vesper

We at Accomplice led Vesper’s $15m Series A round in December 2016. They make microelectromechanical (MEMS) microphones, tiny devices that go in phones, IoT tech, headphones, and more. Voice is quickly becoming the next major way that people interact with devices, from the 8 million households that already use Amazon Echo to the coming industry of hands-free augmented reality headsets. Vesper is poised to ride that wave and become the go-to brand for accoustic sensors.

Vesper is exceptional for a few reasons:

  1. Their MEMS microphones are the most rugged on the market. Water, oil, and dust have no effect on them.
  2. They offer a MEMS mic that stays in low power mode until it hears a wake word. Think “Alexa” or “Okay Google” capabilities, but for any battery-operated smart device. It’s never been done before.
  3. Hardware is hard, yet they’ve raised $17m and are the fastest MEMS company to go from concept to product sold in history. They have ~20 of the smartest semiconductor engineering talent in the world. I bet you didn’t even know they’re HQ’d right in downtown Boston.
  4. Timing. Voice UI is coming, and that means everything’s going to need microphones.
  5. Vesper’s design methods are unique and protected IP, stemming from their CTO and founder Dr. Robert Littrell’s work with piezoelectric effects. They have a 10+ year lead on the competition.

Vesper has focused on building product to date, but now it’s time to get the word out.

Special operation

I co-sponsored this investment with Jeff Fagnan. It’s one of the biggest we’ve done at a Series A round and I have been a champion and believer ever since Jeff did the original seed round in 2014. I’m dropping in on a mission as interim VP of marketing to accelerate their time to market, build out the machinery of marketing and sales, help tell their story, and recruit my long-term replacement.

As operator VCs, we go very deep occasionally in companies that we’re passionate about. Vesper is a big investment that we have to make successful for the firm and for our LPs, and I’m excited to take on the task.

Accomplice

I’m still part of Accomplice, but I’ll be working out of Vesper day-to-day and spending 90% of my time there. Because the remaining time for Accomplice is not a lot, I’m restricting it to:

  1. new deal flow that could be a fit for us;
  2. supporting the existing portfolio; or
  3. helping the organization.

That means I’m going to be ruthless on courtesy meetings, coffees, and anything else that doesn’t fit into the 3 buckets above. All my “pay it forward” energy has to go into Vesper and Accomplice. I apologize if I’m not getting back to you, but I’m doing doubletime.

Accomplice is the absolute greatest place to work and collection of people to collaborate with. We’re rolling out some new initiatives that I’m really looking forward to. More on that soon.

Angel undertakings

Never forget when Matt & Ben were angels in Dogma

I love early stage tech investing and plan to continue it during this period via select angel deals. These won’t be the biggest checks ever, but I work hard, I’ll play video games and/or work out with you, and I’m good at stuff that startups need.

I’m looking for:

  • People who are uniquely themselves and obsessed with solving a problem because they care, not only because they see money there. I don’t care where you went to school, what you look like, whether you have a degree in something you’re “supposed” to, or if you’ve founded anything before. I only care that you are exceptional, charming, and talented. And a little bit crazy, but the right amount where it’s endearing and not scary.
  • Pre-seed or small seed rounds.
  • Anyone building anything that you think is insanely cool and you are impatient to see exist in the world. E.g., for me, the metaverse is at the top of that list.

Feel free to reach out at sarah (at) accomplice (dot) co. I’m also prowling twitter always at @SarahADowney. I’ll get back to you if it could be a fit.

Seeking cosmic connections with early tech founders