Sunday, November 28, 2010

6 months on .....

There is a tiny bit of PR wisdom to which I have tried to adhere most of my working life: "refrain from talking publicly about what you are going to do, talk about what you have done".

When we made the Index Seed announcement, it was clearly necessary to indicate what we were going to do. This was so that entrepreneurs and fellow travellers had some sense of our plans and could propose working together.

Now, given that it is almost exactly 6 months since we announced that TAG and Index were getting together to launch Index Seed, it is time to review what we've done and how well or otherwise we've done it.

All the leading technology VCs do some seed stage investing, the questions to be asked are: how many do they do? what resources are applied? what are the processes involved in getting from A to Z ? (ie from trying to get a date in the diary to cash in the bank) and how involved are they once the investment is made?

We set out to invest in a style that blended the best of TAG’s angel and Index’s institutional approaches.

So, what has been achieved?:

  • We have an active investment committee comprising 5 partners who meet weekly to review potential investments. Saul Klein, Neil Rimer, Mike Volpi, Danny Rimer and myself (Robin Klein)
  • We are supported by a dedicated Seed Associate, Terrence Rohan, by Alex Gezelius (Associate at Venture - who has been invaluable to us) and by Thai Tran - a brilliant engineer who has been an EIR at Index and has acted as our Technology advisor.
  • We have backing from the full Index Partnership as well as the operations team including, Legal and Admin - Nicola, Andre, Sayula, Nina and Pet
  • We have reviewed over 750 plans and met with over 250 companies
  • We have made 12 seed investments so far in 2010 (5 in London, 3 on the West Coast, 2 in Israel, 1 in Estonia and 1 in New York). Many are still in stealth so will only be announced at a time to suit the company's needs.
  • Amounts invested have ranged from $100k to $1m
  • We have a standard seed term sheet, refined and made founder friendly, closing deals at minimal legal cost
  • Every investment has been made with fellow travellers including: Chris Sacca, Dave McClure, Quincy Smith, Ariel Poler, Simon Levene, Aydin Senkut, Marten Mickos, Robert Dighero, Stefan Glaenzer, Alex Zubillaga, Jerry Yang, Yaniv Golan, Avichay Nussbaum, Fabrice Grinda, Michael van Swaaij, Seedcamp, Redpoint, First Round Capital, Betaworks, True Ventures, Polaris, Ron Conway, Joi Ito, Matt Cohler
  • Together with the other investors interested in supporting the earliest stage businesses like Eden, Notion Capital, Lars Hinrichs at HackFwd, we have actively backed Seedcamp with investment and attendance at events

What we're still working on:

  • Consistently providing a definitive answer to founders within 3 weeks of our first contact. We achieve this often but not always
  • Encouraging founders to get pre-endorsed by someone we know

We are really excited at the volume and quality of new start-ups coming from all geographies and fully intend keeping this pace of investment going during 2011.
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