Raising-from-home, going fast, and hello (and, now, congratulations!) Sym
Like most investors, we spent the early part of Q2 focusing on our portfolio — helping founders with planning for the “new normal” we all found ourselves in, figuring out runway and where to cut costs, as well as weighing potential bridge financings.
However, by late April we began to find that with plans in place, most of the portfolio was in “execution mode” and our calendars began to open up enough to take a few initial meetings with interesting-looking startups. Bear in mind that at the time we had no idea how the pandemic would affect the startup ecosystem (I don’t think any of us expected a private market tech bull run, reflected in the pace and price of deals we witnessed in the following months) and were bracing for a funding nuclear winter where we might all but withdraw from new deals.
One such interesting-looking deal came via our friends at Redpoint Ventures who had met a young startup called Sym which was very compelling but just too early for their fund. The pitch was relatively simple: a code-first developer platform providing the building blocks to automate the repetitive privacy and data security workflows that so many software companies deal with: manage requests for access to systems, collect evidence of adherence, and then create the necessary reports demonstrating compliance for SOC-2, GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA or pick-your-own-acronym standards.
Up until now, every company has had to build their own internal systems from scratch to manage this but — in a similar vein to our investment thesis for LaunchDarkly — it was relatively easy to see a world where companies would instead choose to buy a best-of-breed SaaS platform to do a lot of the heavy lifting and thus allow their engineers to focus on building their own product.
This was the first of several deals we’ve since done in a 100% work-from-home environment as both entrepreneurs and investors had to quickly orient themselves to a new normal of getting comfortable while likely not meeting in person (indeed, probably not for some time — Sym’s CEO Yasyf and I finally met in person for the first time last week!) and performing pitches from impromptu home offices. On our first Zoom pitch meeting, CTO Jon was nervously playing with a whisk his daughter had handed him moments earlier:
Random kitchen implements aside, we loved the story that Yasyf, Adam, and Jon told about the opportunity and were thrilled to make an offer to lead their $3M seed round alongside Mango Capital. We figured that would be Sym’s solo fundraising adventure for the year but, like in so many other matters, 2020 had different ideas…
Doubtless, the team had executed extremely well in the period following the seed round — they’d launched the first rev of their platform, gathered their first customers, and hired a brilliant technical team. Despite being very early, there were real signs that there could be something very exciting here.
We were certainly aware of how white-hot the developer tools market had become over the past couple of years. We’d also witnessed deals getting done earlier and earlier as VCs were keen to pre-empt interesting companies before they formally went to market. But, with all of that said, I was still extremely (pleasantly) surprised when our friends at Amplify Partners offered to lead Sym’s Series A just a few short months after we closed the seed round.
I’m extremely happy to offer a now-rather-belated welcome to Yasyf, Adam, Jon, and the rest of Team Sym to the Uncork family, and a slightly-less-belated-but-still-a-bit-late congratulations on a lighting fast Series A (that hopefully means no more fundraising for at least another quarter or two!) 🚀