We focus on early-stage software and deep-tech companies that are US-based. Within this framework, the most important criterion is that the founders have a deep understanding of the industry sector or “vertical” they are addressing with their product. Most often, founders of the companies we back have direct, personal experience with the problem they are solving and the customers they are selling to.
A good litmus test is if your product was designed with a single industry vertical in mind and/or all of your customers are within a single industry vertical, it probably fits.
When it comes to verticals, not explicitly, although we are cautious when it comes to investments in heavily regulated verticals. We do not invest in anything B2C. We do not invest in companies with business models that are capital-intensive and/or require many years of development to bring a product to market.
We focus on Seed, Seed+, and Series A rounds as entry points. Pre-product investments are rare for us, but we will invest pre-revenue, with the distinction being that pre-revenue companies often have a product and some early-access customers in a pilot program.
We will invest anywhere in the US, and despite being based in Palo Alto, we actively seek investments located outside of the Bay Area in markets where access to capital is more constrained.
Yes, we most often lead or co-lead rounds. We also co-invest in rounds led by other funds on a selective basis.
Our first checks range from $500K – $2.5M for Seed and Seed+ investments and $3M – $4M for Series A investments. We always reserve a significant amount of capital for follow-on investments in later rounds.
One or more Managing Directors on our team will have an initial meeting with the founder(s). If there is mutual interest in moving forward, the next step is a meeting with our whole team. Going straight to the “partner meeting” early on allows us to get aligned on our view of the opportunity quickly, and not waste our time or yours. After that, we move fast and our diligence process emphasizes the market opportunity and talking to customers. More specifically, we develop a bottom-up understanding of your maximum revenue potential (which is how we define TAM, not the total spend in your vertical), we focus on your go-to-market strategy and sales process, and we want to talk to as many customers as possible.
It depends on the needs and wants of the founders. Some want their investors to be very hands-on and others do not. We like to discuss this upfront and establish a mutual understanding before we invest. More often than not, we are hands-on in many ways, which may include helping with recruiting for key roles, developing the go-to-market strategy, assisting with non-dilutive funding, and making introductions across the board – prospective customers, investors in your next round of funding, technology development partners, etc.
General Inception is a venture studio incubator that partners with scientific founders at or soon after company formation. It brings pre-seed capital and a large stable of scientist-executives from our most successful “deep tech” portfolio companies over the years. More unique, General Inception brings an on-demand army of nearly 500 scientists and engineers to immediately supercharge the translation of scientific proof of concept into something that customers can engage with for critical feedback and validation early…very early. VVP is a co-founding investor General Inception and directly involved in its operation and investment decisions.
What you do and what we do is hard. It’s very hard. It would not be sustainable, in fact, if we didn’t thoroughly enjoy ourselves along the way. And that means we like to have fun with the teams we back. We make fun of each other constantly, which helps (we hope) avoid the most common affliction among VCs, i.e., becoming arrogant windbags who think we know it all. What we do know is that 50% of your assumptions and our assumptions are wrong at the beginning of every company-building journey. We view our value-add as primarily helping you (and us) quickly figure out which 50% that is…and then roll up our sleeves together and figure it out, trying to have some fun in both the good times and bad.