This is our third fund and, while our values and approach will remain the same, we’ve upped the ante in a few important ways that reflect how much Andy and I have learned since we started Founders’ Co-op back in 2008.
1. More Money
This will be our biggest fund ever -- counting both closed and committed dollars it’s already twice the size of our 2011 raise and with the potential to be more than three times as big (the fund is capped at $25 million). Not only can we now back more great early-stage companies, we can also play a more important role in their journey along the increasingly long and winding road to Series A (and beyond). This is the capital markets gap we set out to fill when we started the fund, and we’re now in a position to do that job right.
2. More Brains
Andy and I are proud of what we’ve built together as a team of two. But they aren’t making any more hours in the day and the Northwest innovation ecosystem keeps getting stronger, so we knew this time around we’d need to find a way to do even more.
Luckily for us, local super-angel Rudy Gadre was thinking along the same lines and -- after many long conversations about the kind of firm we wanted to build, and the kind of impact we wanted to have -- it was clear to all of us that joining forces was the right answer. As of today, Rudy has officially joined Andy and myself as a full investing partner in the fund.
Rudy isn’t just bringing his considerable brainpower to Founders’ Co-op, he also opens up a whole new facet to our investing work. Having played early leadership roles at two of the consumer web’s biggest success stories -- Amazon and Facebook -- Rudy adds a deep understanding of the consumer opportunity to our partnership’s established strength in the enterprise, allowing us to say ‘yes’ with confidence to an even larger set of early-stage companies.
3. New Partnerships
Last time we raised a new fund we added an important new partnership with TechStars, one of the world’s leading startup accelerator programs. This time Founders’ Co-op and TechStars Seattle are joining forces with the University of Washington -- the region’s top research university -- and UPGlobal -- the world leader in entrepreneurial education -- to create Startup Hall, a hub for high-performance startup activity in the heart of Seattle’s University District. The City of Seattle has made the UDistrict a centerpiece of its economic development roadmap and the Startup Hall partnership will play a key role in transforming the University’s backyard into Seattle’s next great innovation neighborhood.
4. Bigger Dreams
Over the past six years we’ve been lucky enough to invest early in some of the Northwest’s most exciting startup success stories -- companies like Simply Measured, HasOffers and Urban Airship. We’ve also seen great local companies like Tableau and Zulily make it all the way to the public markets, adding more strong independent tech leaders to our local ecosystem.
Everything we’ve learned as investors, mentors and troublemakers in our regional startup community has convinced us that the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places in the world to build companies that matter -- economically, socially and culturally. We admire every entrepreneur who has the courage to strike out on their own, but as a fund we’re on the lookout for teams hungry and foolish enough to think they can build the next world-changing company right here in our own backyard.
We wouldn’t be able to do the work we love so much without the trust and support of many, many people in our region and beyond. We’re thrilled to have another fund’s worth of shots on goal, and we want to thank the dozens of friends and fellow entrepreneurs who have trusted us with their money, and the even larger number of founders who have invited us to join them as partners on their own entrepreneurial journeys. We wouldn’t be here without you, and we never forget that we work for you.
Let’s do this.