Careers at True Ventures
True Ventures’ mission is to make the world a better place for entrepreneurs.
Jon Callaghan started his first business at the age of 18. That year he had tried to purchase a mountain bike. However, the bike store in his neighborhood only sold road bikes, and told him that mountain bikes would never catch on. Callaghan then decided to start his own bicycle shop using funds he had earned from summer jobs. The experience taught him a lot about entrepreneurship.
As an adult, Callaghan joined various venture capital firms, primarily ones involved with software and online startups. During the early 2000s, he noticed that the firms were investing less and less in early-stage startups – newer companies with less capital. This was partly because the investors had increasingly bigger funds and wanted to invest in later-stage companies with more experience.
Callaghan saw an opportunity. He felt that early-stage startups should receive significant support so that young entrepreneurs could be nurtured. As such, in 2005 he and some of his colleagues decided to launch a new venture capital firm called True Ventures for this purpose. It has now provided seed funding to countless startups, and has built a community amongst its various founders.
Business model of True Ventures
True Ventures has a niche market business model, with a specialized customer segment. The company targets its services at early-stage technology startups.
True Ventures offers three primary value propositions: accessibility, innovation, and brand/status.
The company creates accessibility by providing funds to early-stage firms. Most venture capital outfits focus on raising funds for later-stage startups, limiting opportunities for young entrepreneurs. However, True Ventures was founded on a mission to nurture newer companies. It meets these startups when they are in a formative phase, with a first investment of around $1 million - $3 million.
The company fosters innovation by taking risks. Investing in newer startups has enabled it to position itself ahead of cutting-edge markets such as the connected devices, robotics, 3D printing, machine learning, and autonomous vehicle industries. It purposely seeks out firms that think disruptively.
The company has established a strong brand as a result of its success. It manages about $1.3 billion in investor capital and has funded over 220 companies featuring 7,000 portfolio team members. These include firms such as FitBit, Puppet, Blue Bottle Coffee, Bandcamp, Namely, and Ring.
True Ventures’ main channel is its business development team. The company promotes its offering through its social media pages and participation in conferences.
True Ventures’ customer relationship is primarily of a dedicated personal assistance nature. The company assists clients through guidance from assigned personnel.
That said, there is also a self-service component in the form of “True University”, a section on its website that features videos of speeches on entrepreneurship from engineers, salespeople, designers, and marketing managers.
True Ventures’ business model entails providing capital to early-stage startups and helping them grow in value.
True Ventures does not maintain any formal partnership programs or have any partners of note.
True Ventures’ main resource is its fund of $1.3 billion, which it uses to invest in early-stage firms. It depends on human resources in the form of advisors to guide clients in their use of the funds.
True Ventures has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service. Its biggest cost driver is likely investment acquisition costs including expenses for personnel, travel, and due diligence.
True Ventures has two revenue streams:
- Management Fees – Fees charged to startups for having their assets professionally managed. They are typically determined as a percentage of the fund’s capital commitments, and are paid on an annual basis.
- Carried Interest – A share of the profits that startups earn from an investment.
info: Jon earned a B.A. in Government from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He previously served as a Managing Director at Globespan Capital and CMGi @Ventures and as the Founder of Chemdex.
info: Phil earned an AB degree in Economics from Stanford University. He previously served as a Co-Founder of Blacksmith Capital and as a General Partner at ABS Ventures and Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners (now Lightspeed Venture Partners).
info: Tony earned a B.S. in Telecommunications with a minor in Business from Indiana University. He previously served as the Co-Founder and CEO of about.me and Sphere and as the Director of Mergers & Acquisitions at Groupe Danone.
info: Toni studied at Santa Barbara City College and earned a B.S. at Stanford University. He previously served as a Vice President at Yahoo!, as the Chief Executive Officer of Oddpost, Uplister, and Automattic, and as the VP of Technology at Aureal Semiconductor.
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