For my research presentation I looked into True Ventures which is, as I’m sure you can guess, a venture capitalist firm. They were founded in 2005 and are based out of Silicon Valley, but are currently located in Palo Alto. After looking into the company, I think it is safe to say they really do care about the companies and founders they invest in, and are just about the exact opposite of the stereotype of venture capitalists as vultures. I cannot wait to go hear from Christiaan Vorkink about his team and all the amazing teams they choose to invest in, but first, a little more in depth explanation of their company.
True Ventures has a very particular strategy that stems all the way from their name. “True,” which means alignment, is indicative of their mission to realign the venture capital industry in a positive manner. They want to be fully focused on the founders and how they can provide the best support of them. They don’t want to just send their money to a company, but rather have a “meaningful ownership position,” and build strong relationships with their founders. The way they accomplish this goal, is by investing early at the Seed Stage and Series A investment rounds, and staying with the company throughout its entire life-cycle. Their median investment is usually between $1-2 million, and they usually end with about 20% ownership of the company. Given, this is not the case with every company, as we saw they invested in the Series E round for Peloton, but more commonly, they strategize to invest earlier and stay with the company throughout.
True Ventures has about $1.6 billion under their management, which is spread across seven different funds. Their different funds are delegated for different investment strategies. They can use certain funds to invest smaller initial amounts to provide a risky, yet reasonable start, but they are large enough to provide follow-up capital when necessary. For example, their Select III Fund that they used to invest in Peloton, is strictly for additional funding for companies that have proved to gain significant market traction.
True’s Mission to Make Connections
I think something that I touched on in my presentation, but would like to dive a little deeper into, is True Ventures’ repeated effort to make connections both between different companies in their portfolio, and between students and companies in their portfolio. This is beneficial for both parties in that it helps these startups connect with young talent, just as it helps students start their careers in entrepreneurship. I don’t think that every venture capitalist firm makes the extra effort to bring together all these different parties to benefit one another, but I think True’s desire to create such long-lasting relationships allows them to do so.
With the more recent addition of the Priya Haji Fellowship, True Ventures has four different foundations to connect companies to companies, and students to companies in their portfolio including, Founder Camp, True Forums, True University, and True Entrepreneur Corps. As a student, I think it is a really great opportunity, and understand that many students and founders would be incredibly grateful for these programs.
Company to Company
Founder Camp was officially founded in 2014, but has been in action since 2009. True Ventures brings together all of their different founders for a gathering once a year. It has grown from being a gathering on Pier 38 to a weekend in Carmel, but it provides a strong and diverse community of founders who are able to help one another. Way back in 2009, John Wedgewood, the founder of Bixbie said that everyone was a bit hesitant at first to share their ideas with one another, but at the end of the first day, it was just one huge welcoming community. Since then it has only continued to grow in numbers and diversification of ideas, which can only provide more opportunities for these amazing entrepreneurs to help one another.
True Forums on the other hand, provides a smaller group setting for founders to interact with one another. I assume True Forums is able to provide the connections like the one between Fitbit and Ring, in which Fitbit was able to help ring better their launch with the use of low power Wi-Fi chips. This is really indicative of True Venture’s aspirations to make the world a better place, and to invest in founders who have similar goals. While some founders would be protective of their ideas, True Ventures is able to provide a community where all these people want to help one another and share their ideas to better these individual companies, which can in turn better the world.
True University, or True U, is a basically a “two-day startup school,” for founders in True Ventures’ portfolio that began in 2010. In 2017, there were over 350 attendees including both founders and employees from the companies that True invested in. At True University, they will hear talks and participate in workshops covering “sales and marketing, leadership, culture, design, engineering and more.” There are many different True U professors who give insights into these topics with the goal of making attendees stronger leaders, and in general better humans. True Ventures believes that providing this teaching on all steps of the startup experience, can help their founders be better, which could not only better their returns, but better the missions and success of these companies. If these companies are successful, they actually have the ability to make the world a better place.
Student to Company
The most recent addition is the Priya Haji Fellowship which I touched on in my presentation. This is a nine month fellowship that will connect graduates, especially women and other underrepresented groups, to companies in True’s portfolio. While True’s companies have easier access to young talent, students are able to learn and get a start to their careers in entrepreneurship. True Ventures hopes this fellowship will carry on Priya Haji’s legacy, as she unfortunately passed on July 14, 2014. Priya Haji, being a four time entrepreneur, never gave up on making the world a better place, and True Ventures is hoping to continue pursuing these goals.
I cannot wait to visit True Ventures and see what Christiaan Vorkink has to say about this company! Through my research they appear to be an incredibly moral and passionate company, and to be doing great things for everyone.