Interlace Ventures, Funding Technology for the Commerce World

Joseph Sartre
Oct 24, 2019 · 7 min read

Writing an operating manual or manifesto is not a harmless exercise. Gathering your stories, your values, you beliefs, your objectives, and your operating model in one — sort of — comprehensive text is a long journey.

Inspired by the best actors in the space — YCombinator, Notation Capital + others — we are making it public in a non bullet points format. We hope this gives you a better insight on who we are, what we do, how we do it and most of all why we do it.

So here it is: a first iteration of our manifesto at Interlace Ventures.

Technology for the Commerce World

Commerce and Retail are at the foundation of our societies. Today, the industry is being challenged by a new generation of consumers that have grown up in an environment of fast technological change. The next 10 years will see the rise of new models that drive our societies to ‘better consuming’.

Technology is a key enabler to make consumption more sustainable, personalized, convenient and delightful, and to be more consumer centric by tackling new business models, improved supply chains or better delivery. From incumbents to new high funded Consumer companies, all need an upgrade in their infrastructure technology to scale and transform.

Our mission is to fund and support magnetic founders building the most promising technology companies who are meaningfully re-inventing commerce and retail for better consumption.

Our team has experienced these shifts first hand in China with the advent of the largest online and mobile platforms in the world.

We partner with our investors to accelerate our portfolio access, most of which are in the retail and commerce space, to deliver outstanding returns and best in class insights into the evolution of commerce.

Built by Commerce and Retail Investors & Operators

Interlace Ventures is a community of actors dedicated to shaping the future of commerce, from our limited partners to our advisors and portfolio founders. We have two full time investment partners who have operated and invested together for over 7 years with diverse backgrounds of education and culture:

Vincent Diallo is a seasoned finance executive. Before co-founding Bleu Capital — the venture arm of a family office — he was the CFO of Sinodis (Acq. Savencia), the largest independent distributor of Western Food in China, which he helped take from $50M to $200M in a few years before facilitating the exit. Prior to that, he spent 7 years at Deloitte with clients such as LVMH, WPP or Pernod Ricard.

Vincent led investments in companies such as b8ta or

Vincent is French with West African origins (Burkina Faso), spent 10 years in China and is passionate about meditation and mind-body alchemy.

Joseph Sartre, investor and operator in the technology and FMCG space, spent 5 years in China leading finance for Danone Evian Asia Pacific and then managed retail & special channels sales for Danone Evian China. He started his career managing technology and finance at Minutebuzz, a digital media company (Acq. TF1 — the largest French TV network).

Raised in Djibouti Africa, France and the USA, Joseph is a proficient developer in Python, Java and Javascript, he still codes and built the technology infrastructure of the fund :).

Funding High-Integrity and Tech focused Projects, Early

Our focus on commerce technology is broadly defined. Nevertheless, we prioritize the How (Enabling Technologies and Infrastructure Platforms throughout the Retail Value Chain) and the Where (Marketplaces, New Distribution Platforms or new Retail Experiences) and focus less on the What (Consumer Products). However, we always consider consumer investments that we feel are transformative to an industry — e.g. Fordays.

We look for projects before they’ve hit their growth moment, from inception to pre-Series A (pre-seed, seed or post-seed). We enjoy being one of the first checks and work alongside teams from the very beginning.

Pre-revenue is not too early for us although part of our portfolio does have early market validation.

We look for resilient founders with high-integrity, discipline, a strong work ethic and a magnetic personality to inspire and communicate their vision. We back teams that demonstrate an ability to know when to be defensive and scrappy by using their capital efficiently and when to be bold and on the offense by thinking big and leaning in strong with their resources.

We support 6 to 8 new projects per year across the United States and Canada, and also keep a close eye on European opportunities. Our average check size is $250k in rounds that are usually between $0.5m and $3m at the early stages of a company.

Explore our portfolio.

Getting to Know Founders First

It’s important to us to get to know founders. We don’t do ‘deals’, we make all of our decisions as a team. During the process, founders meet both partners while we diligence thoroughly the market and the team through reference calls.

We’ve built our own internal technology platform to source and analyze companies using our own competition matching processes.

We generally do not lead rounds and as such are flexible when it comes to the format of the raise. Nevertheless, we tend to prefer participating in equity rounds or convertible securities (E.g. YC’s latest post-money SAFE) and not convertible debt (Notes); for more clarity as to why, have a read at Elizabeth Yin’s great articles.

Following our decision which happens after a 4 week diligence, we make introductions to the right investors if needed.

Post-investment, we take some time to onboard founders to our communications channels and aim to set milestones as well as a disciplined schedule of regular touchpoints.

Being Human, Candid and Positive Before All

We all have different ways of working yet we believe there are some basics that transcend cultures and geographies:

  • We Strive To Deliver Value: value to our founders, our investors and our community to deliver outstanding financial returns.
  • We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know: because we all have our own experiences and a limited ability to know all, we aspire to be endlessly curious, listen and learn from everyone we meet.
  • We Trust The Process: we strongly believe that exploring and scaling a project is about building a process and not focusing on a specific outcome — cf. Andy’s The Future and the Process.
  • We Value Transparency and Candor: in the good and bad times transparency and candor with ourselves, our founders and our own investors is the greatest creator of trust and long term partnership.
  • We Assume Good Intent: life would be gloomy if we were not positive about who we meet and what we encounter, we value the impact of positivity around us;
  • We Are Grateful: we are only here because of others that put their trust in us, be grateful with what we have, from our first investor JP (and Catherine!) to our limited partners and the founders that have put their trust in us.
  • We Believe Diversity Outperforms: from our team to how we source we keep KPIs in place to challenge us to always find talent in unrecognized areas.

Supporting With Energy And A Targeted Network

From China to France and the United States, we have a global history in developing successful companies. We know the value of hands-on investors and apply it to deliver on more than just money.

  • Bring founders energy — Our number one priority! Investors are not only here to support with business development, mentoring and advice but also a safe space to come out with renewed energy. We see it having a rippling effect within the portfolio organizations.
  • The right commerce connections — Through our network of executives in the retail, CPG and distribution space, we’ve proven that we connect our founders with business partners and product mentors. This is a game changer to land a first landmark customer.
  • Support in structuring operations before scale — Our experience in scaling brands has taught us that building the right financial and operational infrastructure is key before scaling. We usually support founders in:
  • Setting KPIs and Milestones — to prove out product market fit and manage teams efficiently, empowering each individual contributor with a measurable mission and timing to get to the next level.
  • Structuring financials — we help structure internal reporting and accounting processes to prepare founders to their next financing to be one step ahead.
  • Perks — We’ve built relationships with the top providers for startups. We offer $100k in Google Cloud credits as well $100k in AWS credits which usually help cut some of that burn off. We’ve also negotiated discounts with software like Gusto, Hubspot or Carta.
  • Capital raising — preparing for and finding the right partners for the next capital raise is a key part of building a successful venture backed company. We spend time with founders reviewing and supporting the creation of pitch decks and business plans, and clarifying their equity story. We provide meaningful introductions to other investors.

We typically do not take board seats but we are open, when the project and the time is right, to join the board as an observer. We usually join with a view as ex-operator and commerce specialists.

Regardless, you have access to the full Interlace team and network from Day 1.

Interlacing Our Community

Our limited partners and advisors include some of the industry’s leaders and are committed to helping our portfolio companies. They are Corporate Venture Funds, Executives from Fortune 500 companies or successful entrepreneurs and families in the Commerce space, all hungry to reshape the industry.

We’ve built a process to connect our portfolio investments and our own investors to create business and strategic value. You can find some of our key partners on our team page.

We started small with one breakfast in New York around Cargo to talk about Mobility in Commerce in 2018. Today we host a breakfast every two months in San Francisco and New York with the leading investors and operators.

We also send out a regular newsletter about Interlace Ventures as well as notable news regarding the commerce space.

And more to come.

Explore our partners.

Let’s build the future of better consumption together! @Interlace Ventures

Joseph Sartre:

Vincent Diallo:

Joseph Sartre

Written by

Co-Founder & Managing Partner @interlacevc @bleucap in #newyork, curious, crossborder, passionate about #futureofcommerce, #retailtech, #data, #ai & #cocktails

Interlace Ventures

Interlace Ventures, Funding Technology for the Commerce World

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