Putting our best foot forward in 2016 Underscore.VC

We announced our final investment of 2016 in Salsify. It’s the perfect capstone to our first year, during which we closed our _Underscore.VC Fund 1 oversubscribed at $85M. As excited as we are for 2017, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year around 4 of our key themes.

Rob Gonzalez & Jeremy Redburn, two of the co-founders of Salsify

1. Invest from Formation to Scale

As investors, we designed the fund so we could work with entrepreneurs at the earliest stages of formation through to scale.

Since we began building the firm we have made 10 seed investments at the very earliest stage -- some based only on faith in the entrepreneur and a whiteboard sketch.

At the same time, we went to scale by leading three later stage rounds, a $5M Series A for Mautic (following on our seed), an $8M investment in Zaius (following our original participation in their earliest funding), and now leading the $30M Series C to support Salsify’s growing success (our partner led the earliest investment).

We look forward to backing more bold, brave entrepreneurs from the earliest stage in 2017.

Spencer Pingry, CTO & Founder of Zaius

2. Focus on Cloud Intelligence

We’re focused on an investment thesis we call Cloud Intelligence. All of our investments in 2016 connected to this thinking including investments in Machine Intelligence, IoT, SaaS, Marketing Automation and Open Source.

We’re excited to have worked with Core groups in these areas and to continue investing in them, as well as emerging areas, in the upcoming year.

Internet of Things (IoT) Roundtable
eCommerce and Marketplaces Roundtable

3. Align Core Advisors to Build Value in Every Investment

Before we started the firm, we listened to hundreds of entrepreneurs to understand what they need to support their full potential and build enduring companies. A key insight was how hard it is to align advisors with the needs of a startup in terms of stage, domain, and expertise. So, we set out to rewrite the rules of venture to address this challenge.

CRO Roundtable

For each investment we make from the main Underscore fund, we work with the founders to assemble a group of Core Advisors and Investors who are aligned to the needs of their business. We also give those advisors ways to invest alongside us. Then we go a step further. We’ve created a model that enables us to share our returns with the Core group for meaningful leverage on their investment of either time or capital. In 2016, dozens of the Underscore community members participated in the Core program across our investments.

They invested talent, time, experience, expertise and personal commitment, including in some cases several hundred thousand dollars of their own capital. They have helped create millions of dollars of value while filling many jobs for our portfolio companies, including in one case joining one of our companies as CEO.

Customer Success Community Event

4. Contribute to the Startup Community

We’re finding great advisors by tapping into an amazing community of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives who are passionate about learning, mentoring, and helping each other. We believe community is something you do, not something you have, so in 2016 we gathered hundreds of entrepreneurs for nearly two-dozen dinners and events, curated consistent with our Core Community, by domain, stage and function.

Our Core events have covered Boston, NYC and SFO Core Communities

As part of sharing this experience we also launched the new Startup Secrets website to highlight what we’re learning about building enduring companies.

Sign up here to receive updates such as the recent piece arising from our Customer Success Core on the secret to long and valuable customer engagements.

2016 Underscore.VC Core Summit

In October, we hosted the first ever Underscore.VC Core Summit, a day long gathering of the entrepreneurs behind some of the best startup companies in Boston and beyond. This year's summit assembled hundreds of entrepreneurs including more than 50 founders, 40 CEOs and dozens of leading executives who have built billions of dollars of value.

Core Summit CEO Panel: (L to R) Michael Skok, Co-Founder & Partner, Underscore.VC; Tom Ebling, CEO, Demandware; Corey Thomas, CEO, Rapid7; and Chris Comparato, CEO, Toast

Thank you!

To everyone who helped us make 2016 such an exciting year - here’s to making 2017 even better.

The Underscore.VC Team

We're excited to kick it up a notch for 2017!

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