our journey to an oversubscribed fund iii for first check enterprise
This is a story about starting an enterprise seed fund called Boldstart in 2010 and our journey in enterprise since 1996. Despite our firm being a little over 6 years old, our individual stories go further back. We each independently fell in love with enterprise software 20+ years ago as seed investors (cos like gotomeeting/Citrix, greenplum/EMC, livperson/IPO LPSN) and founders (workmarket, onforce/Adecco, spinback/buddymedia/salesf0rce) and are now benefiting from the ecosystems, knowledge and network that we’ve collectively developed.
What seemed like a big bet in early 2010 was only us pursuing our passion. Our goal was to be the best first check partner for enterprise founders, bringing the value add of a VC firm while moving with the speed and conviction of an angel investor. We set out to build boldstart at the height of mobile app mania and viral growth and were faced with questions about our focus on enterprise and NYC. At the time there were only a handful of micro-VCs in existence, and despite going against the tide, we felt that the opportunity to build the first and best enterprise seed fund was a dream worth pursuing.
Today, we are super excited to announce our final close of $47mm for fund iii. This was oversubscribed from our initial target of $30mm and mirrors not only our growth but also the power of NYC as a hub for enterprise technology. As part of this final close, we are thrilled to have value added LPs like Knollwood Investment Advisory (anchor investor) and Top Tier Capital (institutional lead) join our mission. We are also grateful to our awesome investors who believed in us since day 1, especially Stillwater and KNC Holdings (Jeff Citron family office), our initial anchors. Most importantly, we wanted to thank our amazing group of founders that we have had the privilege to partner with over the years.
This is awesome not just for us but also for enterprise startups in NYC. To have institutional investors the quality of Knollwood and Top Tier Capital seeking an allocation to seed and NYC enterprise shows the tremendous progress we have all made. We still need to generate that first $1b exit, but I have no doubt that is coming, and we will certainly do our part to help make that happen. Our vision of bridging the west and east coasts is also becoming a reality, and it is no longer our secret that there is real enterprise tech in NYC. West coast founders now fully understand why having a NYC investor on their cap table pays huge dividends and west coast VCs are regularly leading Series A and B rounds in NYC.
Having more capital will only further our mission, not change it. Fund III is an evolution of our initial model to be a first check and partner for enterprise founders through their first 18–24 months. The big difference is that we now lead and co-lead seed rounds, write bigger initial checks of up to $1mm (from $300k in fund ii), and reserve significantly more capital to participate in follow on rounds.
- Core to our ethos has always been to put founders first, not with words but by actions. While it is nice to say these things, what we are most proud of is that in our 6 year history, we have already had 3 incredibly successful teams from Fund I (exits to salesforce, akamai, linkedin) choose us to be their first check and lead partner in their next startups. Add 4 more repeat founding teams we backed prior to boldstart, and another 8 entrepreneurs we backed who are also advisors with carry, and you can see why we believe in the power of founders and building a family.
- We continue to have the courage to be first on your cap table and the conviction to move swiftly to close rounds.
- We are 100% aligned with our founders when it comes to raising the best Series A financing as our model is not to lead these rounds but follow on with our pro rata.
- We will always work side-by-side with our founders and be with them every step of the way as they build their first product, hire their first employee, close their first customer, and realize their full potential.
- We remain focused on investing in the whole enterprise stack from back-end to front-end including security, smart data, developer platforms and productivity, and game changing enterprise SaaS startups (see our enterprise outlook for 2016 and our current Fund III “announced” portfolio below)
Ed Sim, Eliot Durbin, Jeff Leventhal