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Unlocking Access Beyond Capital for Early-Stage Startups

I recently had the opportunity to attend the All Raise VC Summit, an annual gathering of women in venture capital and investing. This year was virtual but the number of attendees was larger than ever.

One exciting aspect of the conference was getting to meet several emerging fund managers and learn about the various investment perspectives that funds around the country and globe are pursuing. Regardless of the sector an investor was focused on, be it EdTech to HealthTech to PropTech, a number of trends emerged related to early-stage startups and what to look for when partnering with a VC -

Operational Expertise - More and more, emerging fund managers are coming from an operational background where they have scaled startups and drove innovation within massive corporations. As an early-stage founder, an investor that has been in the trenches from founder drama to building a sales team is a valuable asset.

Access to Growth Opportunities - One point of discussion at All Raise was the massive amount of dry powder in venture currently and how VCs can offer something beyond capital. For some funds this may be engineering expertise or a communal co-working space. At Silicon Road, our Corporate Connect model is a growth engine for our portfolio companies. Since we’re a team of operators, we use our ecosystem of retailers and CPG decision makers that are looking for innovation to solve their problems. This can come in the form of curated one on ones between our founders and corporate connect partners to organized demos and round tables. Through this program, our founders have found numerous growth opportunities.

Synergies with Other Portfolio Companies - One more aspect of partnering with a fund that has deep industry expertise is the potential for cross-portfolio synergies. For a fund that specializes in transportation that may be coordinating demo days and panels on the future of public transport and urbanization. For others it may be connecting complementary DTC brands to marketers with deep expertise in consumer.

As we continue to build Silicon Road, we are seeing the numerous synergies between not only the companies we’ve invested in but future investments as well. That has included connecting our portfolio company Turn, a leader in contingent worker background checks and sourcing, to potential investments in logistics and delivery startups looking for 1099 talent. As our portfolio grows, the potential for collaboration grows with it.

What are other must-haves or partnership opportunities that startups need from a VC? Did you attend All Raise and want to share your experience? Let us know in the comments!

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