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dlab v3: An Overview of Our New Process

So many things in our world have changed dramatically since our last update back in March. We sincerely hope that you’re all staying safe and sane during this unprecedented time. Eight months ago, when the global pandemic first began impacting travel, we made the difficult decision to postpone the start of our third dlab program in New York. Since then, our team has been working diligently to adapt to this new normal, shifting to a virtual-first existence (as many others have), while also working with our existing portfolio companies to help them weather the storm. We’ve also used some of this time to think hard about how we can improve our own operations and approach to supporting startups in this environment.

As many of you know, our previous cohorts have operated on a traditional 3-month accelerator timeline, with founders joining us physically in our New York office. This is a formula that has worked extremely well in the past, allowing founders and staff to get to know each other on a personal level; providing startups with opportunities to cross-pollinate and share knowledge, and facilitating meetings and interactions with mentors, syndicate investors, and other partners who frequently drop into our space. The global pandemic has obviously thrown a wrench into this, and although we’re optimistic that 2021 will bring positive developments, the reality is that it may yet be some time before things can return to ‘normal.’

After discussing this in depth with our staff, our sister programs, and our existing portfolio company founders, we realized that there were three primary goals we had: (1) identify talent and invest earlier, (2) be more flexible on timelines, and (3) ensure that we can provide even more support to the companies that show the most potential.

So what does this look like in practice?

First, we’re setting up regular office hours on Zoom for promising startups that we haven’t yet invested in. Our hope is that this will give us a chance to really get to know them and their work, while also giving founders a chance to get to know us and ensure we’re providing feedback and advice that is valuable to them, before any contracts are signed or money changes hands. (Interested? We’d love to chat! Please fill out an application first and we’ll be in touch)

When we feel like there’s a good fit, we’ll make an offer. Offers will generally be in the form of a $150k SAFE note, along with a promise to pre-commit (usually $100k USD) to your next qualified financing / seed round. For more mature companies pursuing a token-centric strategy, we’ll also consider SAFTs on a case by case basis.

Rather than waiting for a cohort start date, we’ll begin working with a portfolio company immediately once an offer is accepted. This allows us to get companies support when they need it most, and gives us time to really understand the founders and their product over an initial engagement period with a regular weekly cadence. New companies will join a rolling “cohort” of accelerator companies, and will have structured opportunities to meet and share knowledge with those founders and our mentors. They also get access to workshops, investor showcase events, our partner perks program, and of course resources and hands-on help from our staff.

We’ll provide operational support to those companies for 3–12 months, depending on their needs. Why the additional time? Because we’ve seen so many of our companies benefit from extended programming and increased post-program support. Every startup we work with is, after all, on their own path, with their own unique challenges, goals, and opportunities. For some startups, 3 months with us is perfect. For others, our work together is just getting started, and there’s a lot more value we can add by extending the program timeline.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, as part of the SOSV family, we have a 15-year track record of consistent follow-on investments, so it’s not like our work is finished after the accelerator programming ends; our goal is to be lifelong partners throughout a company’s life cycle. We’re in it for the long haul.

So that’s the plan. As with all things, it is subject to change as we learn and adapt to what’s working. dlab continues to be an experimental program, operating in a (still!) very experimental space, and just like the startups we work with, we’re constantly tuning and iterating on our product in order to achieve the best results. Our belief is that this new approach will help us identify and support the very best companies even earlier, in a way that is more flexible and targeted to their specific needs.

So where are we today? We’ve already started putting this plan into practice. Over the past few weeks we have been making our first offers. We expect to make about twelve new investments over the next twelve months, or roughly one per month. If you’re a startup building decentralized systems or blockchain-enabled services, and you’re looking for funding and help, please get in touch with us. Don’t be too concerned that your project is too early or not polished; all big ideas start small, and our goal here is to make it easier than ever to get funds and support to great founders (at any stage!) working to move this ecosystem forward. We look forward to hearing from you! Please, stay safe, sane, and healthy during the upcoming holiday season.




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dlab: blockchain venture studio

dlab: blockchain venture studio

SOSV’s blockchain venture studio, providing capital and resources to startups exploring new topics in decentralization and blockchain technology.

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