Invest with Outlier Ventures
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Note from Outlier Ventures
We focus on investing in the early stage ventures of exceptionally driven entrepreneurs who are building companies in the areas of our investment themes. After investing, we'll work our tails off to help our portfolio companies excel. More detail on our investment philosophy, stage and themes is below. Outlier Ventures Investment Philosophy We invest in entrepreneurs who demonstrate exceptional drive. From our own entrepreneurial experiences, we know that startups face a time when the journey does not seem worth it. Only those entrepreneurs whose grit compels them to push through this period and who don’t know how to quit will surmount this obstacle. We believe great entrepreneurs are talent magnets and can marshal resources non-commensurate with the stage and current status of their venture: the best engineering teams, the most talented advisors, etc. As such, we will invest in entrepreneurs who create the ecosystem that ferments their future success. The best companies start by doing one thing extremely well, and expand from there. Grab-bag approaches where many things need to work simultaneously make it impossible to allocate a startup’s initially scarce resources and achieve escape velocity. We know that focus is critical, and will partner with entrepreneurs who believe the same. Successful entrepreneurs have an expansive vision coupled with a tactical beachhead plan. Most companies morph (expand scope) over time with increasing success, but skipping steps does not work (eg. you cannot create Facebook of 2012 without first creating Facebook of 2004). “Irrational” optimism is necessary, both on behalf of the entrepreneur and ourselves. Most great companies once sounded like a crazy or niche idea. If the idea were too obvious, the opportunity would not exist. In accordance, you have to commit seeing the world through an optimistic lens, else you can convince yourself that every opportunity is not viable or too crazy to succeed. The best entrepreneurs capitalize on paradigm shifts (global macro, technology, …) while the rest of the world still believes in the “old way.” We seek to partner with entrepreneurs who know a secret about the world before the rest of the world. Investment Stage As founders, operators, and angel investors, we have been through and seen the formation stages of many companies. We believe we can be most helpful to entrepreneurs at this most critical stage, and provide critical assistance in the domains of: • Founding and engineering team formation. Keeping the quality bar high during the selection of this initial team is critical, as they will form the basis for the long-term culture. Coming from iconic technology companies, and having done this at startups, we can help guide the entrepreneur through their first and critical hires. • Initial product definition and feature scope focus. To paraphrase St. Exupery, a product is “achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” As career technologists and product managers, we can advise the entrepreneur on these strategic matters. • Fundraising and syndicate formation. We have repeat experience fundraising and forming best-of-breed syndicates, both at our own startups and for our entrepreneurs. Partnering with the right investors, especially at the early stages, is fundamental to the long term success of startups, and we can bring our experience to bear to assist in these matters. Commitment to the journey. That said, we commit to our entrepreneurs for the duration of the journey. We commit to make follow-on investments in our most successful ventures, and help guide our entrepreneurs through several stages of financing to successful liquidity events or exits. Investment Themes Though our early stage investments are predominantly driven by a strong desire to partner with amazing entrepreneurs and their teams (regardless of sector), our world view is informed by some investment themes where we are constantly looking for talented people to change the world. Obviously, as the ecosystem evolves, we expect these themes will change with them, but the need to partner with great teams will remain our guiding principle. • Mobile: Everything from consumer-facing technology to business-facing applications will be re-invented through a mobile first lens. With every platform shift of this magnitude, new category-defining leaders will be created. • Cloud: Existing enterprise software will continue to move from on-premise to the cloud. Cloud services will unlock heretofore unknown synergies and enable enterprises to extract insights from disparate data sets that could not previously be combined. • Information Extraction: Previously inaccessible data will increasingly come online and become easily retrievable and searchable. Technology-enabled marketplaces will be the big winners of this shift towards greater information transparency. • Capturing Excess Capacity: As the nature of work adapts to a decentralized world, traditional knowledge worker tasks will be disrupted through a combination of intelligent software agents and markets for excess capacity of qualified labor pools. • Ambient / Wearable Computing: Wearable computing hardware is in its infancy. We believe it is the first technology that will truly enable the context-aware consumption and production of information in such a way that it is seamless to the operator (eg. as if it were in their own head). • Manufacturing: New sources of funding (the crowd), new processes (3D printing and other additive technologies), and easy manipulation of data (for forecasting, predictive analytics) will enable a new breed of technology-enabled manufacturing. • Security: As warfare moves to cyber-warfare, protection against cyber-attacks and electronic data theft will become increasingly critical for individuals, corporations, and governments alike. The mobilization of the workforce and “employee owned IT” makes this matter more complex. • Marketing Tech: In the next decades, we believe CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs. The shift from marketing as an art to marketing as a science is ongoing and next-generation marketing technology will be critical to the success of future marketing programs. Important Items to Note: • We will provide updates to the extent we receive them from companies. So expect little or nothing in the way of information flow. • Angel investments are highly speculative regardless of the extent of research, diligence or other work completed. Please only invest capital you can afford to lose entirely. • Angel investments are illiquid and we have a long investment horizon. Expect that liquidity events, when they happen, will be far into the future.
When the founder/company permits us, we will syndicate all early stage deals on AngelList.