Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ground Floor: Seeking Out Startups Before They've Even Formed

And no, this isn't the hipsters/cloners/ripoffs at Berlin's Rocket Internet:

Climateer Line of the Day: Venture Capital Economy Edition

"Our proven winners generated aggregated net losses of €442 million" ($568 million)
-Rocket Internet prospectus via "How Do You Say 'Dot-Com Crash' in German?"

According to the WSJ:
"Rocket is a cross between a venture-capital fund and a consulting firm that founds startups and helps them grow."
RKET was able to price their Oct. IPO at the top end of the expected range.

From Venture Capital Dispatch:
YL Ventures Seeks Out Israeli Startups Before They Even Form 
Israel is a hotbed for startups focused on hard technology like cybersecurity, partly because of the training that founders receive in the Israel Defense Forces, which drafts both men and women and trains some of them in cutting-edge technical skills.

But for investors, backing the best startups is getting harder.

“There are more and more funds that have figured out Israel has great technologists and are operating in the country, competing with us for deal flow,” said Yoav Andrew Leitersdorf, managing partner of YL Ventures, a seed-stage investor focused on Israeli startups. “There was much less competition seven years ago when we started.”

YL Ventures, which is based in the Bay Area with an office in Israel, has developed an unusual approach to ferreting out Israeli startups–it tries to find them before they’re officially formed. The firm has in-house software and teams in India that track about one million people in Israel, watching for signals online to see who might be coming together to form a company.

The firm receives about 100 alerts a month based on the background of a potential founder and whether their social media activity has changed. Indicators of interest include whether they’re in the IDF, working for a tech company or at a university.

The alerts are given a score, and the firm makes contact with a couple of dozen of the potential entrepreneurs each month to see what’s going on.

YL Ventures found the first two investments from its second fund before the founders had registered their companies or contacted any investors, Mr. Leitersdorf said. They are FireLayers Inc., which protects cloud applications and data, and Hexadite Ltd., which automatically alerts users of cyber incidents....MORE