“The future” is fast approaching. What we thought was impossible five years ago is quickly becoming possible: cars are driving themselves, robots are keeping the elderly company in Japan, quadrotors are using computer vision to analyze crops yields in the midwest, CRISPR-cas9 can edit genes just like we’d edit a word document, and deep neural nets can identify tumors more accurately than the very best radiologists.
Unlike the “purely” software and SaaS companies we’ve seen in the first two decades of the millennium, it seems like this “Third Wave” of startups, as AOL Founder Steve Case calls it, will differ quite radically:
But now in a world where information/data is king and where the all the algorithms for machine learning are open source, it’s less about what algorithms you’re using, and instead more about what data you have access to and what application you’re applying the algorithms to. In this case, domain level expertise is extremely important; in other words, it probably won’t be a 30-year-old male engineer who graduated from an Ivy League school, lives in San Francisco, and ran an e-commerce company in a past life who will create the next billion dollar AgriTech company. Instead, it might be the state school educated son of a farmer who lives in the midwest, really understands agriculture, and who has access to tremendous amounts of data about his crops.
Currently, most VCs are looking for startups in metropolises like Silicon Valley and New York. The kicker is that they’re doing nothing wrong--because of network effects and a prior knowledge base of “how to do it,” places like Silicon Valley have been by far the best place to startup so every founder wants to go there. But the world is fundamentally changing.
Once we find great companies through our partner network, we’re going to do everything in our power to help them succeed and to counter the intrinsic economic changes we’re seeing. For example, because of the fundamental necessity of startups and Fortune 500s to work together in this next wave, we’re going to host quarterly Corporate Connect days where founders can pitch and build relationships with Fortune 500 corporations and governmental organizational leaders like DARPA / FDA / FAA for future partnerships, funding, purchase orders, or even potential acquisition targets.
And equally important, our partners are going to get down in the trenches to help founders succeed. These days it seems like every seed/pre-seed fund offers “advisors” but something we noticed when founding our own companies is that oftentimes these relationships are aloof monthly ordeals. With Prototype Capital, our managing partners Nandeet and Rajat are both founders who understand the intricacies of building companies since we've done it before and will be on call 24/7 to help make day-to-day decisions like “which engineer do I hire” or “how do I effectively hold meetings.” Similarly, our venture scouts -- also successful founders -- will contribute a set number of hours of design/engineering/recruiting work each week.
Founders are really the fountainheads of innovation and we’re dependent on them to push our world forward. We’re excited to not be “just another fund” but rather an organization of people working to build the future along with founders.
"You're the only investor I've had who actually calls to help out and do work not just ask for updates"
~ Jiren Parikh, CEO at Ghost Robotics
We spend most of our time advising
After exiting a company in the past, we've learned that money is cheap but good guidance is hard to come by. We're here to help you make the tough decisions as "Virtual CEOs." We really want to be your co-founder on demand and help you make tough decisions at 3 AM when the going gets tough:
How we help you succeed
We pride ourselves in getting down in the trenches with founders
Our Advisors and Partners Were Raised In Success
Here's the network you can access, anytime, anywhere
We provide over $200k in free services to our portfolio companies
We Connect You with Corporations
To change the world, large corporations and agile startups need to work together.
We're here to help make those partnerships possible.
How it Works
1) Once we invest in your company, we work together to select five Fortune 500s in our network that your company has the most synergies with.
2) We'll set up a virtual first round demo day with a VP or higher at each corporation where you can pitch your product
3) If there's mutual interest, we'll host a second of round interview with that partner to discuss details of how the two parties could work together.
4) Once both parties are excited about pursuing further, Prototype will fly the founders over to the HQ of the corporate to meet and pitch other key stakeholders in the corporation.
We generally like to chip in follow-on capital (usually $100k or less) and don't usually take board seats. Most of our value isn't in the cash we provide but rather our mentorship, our connections, and the sleeves-up time we spent working day-to-day. We're interested in any company building a product that's better than the status quo by 10x but spend most of our time looking into the following spaces:
We are distributed
The next great innovation in AgriTech is more likely to come out of Idaho than San Francisco
We believe that there are great entrepreneurs outside of just places like Silicon Valley. To help empower them and help build the ecosystem in more recently developed startup hubs, our fund has a decentralized structure with partners at universities and cities around the nation.