Two respected tech entrepreneurs Josh Felser and Dave Samuel officially announced their early-stage VC firm Freestyle Capital. Although Dan Primack of Fortune Term Sheet blog reported that Freestyle’s fund been public for sometime, it appears the Freestyle team wanted to announce exclusively at the Techcrunch event.
Freestyle’s two founders are entrepreneurs and have been together for over 14 years. Their magic is their knack or nose for good deals plus they have experience to add value on startup execution.
Josh and Dave have build a solid reputation and track record building companies and now as they are getting older (like me) so they are putting their entrepreneurial effort into other peoples startups. It’s been a crazy journey for Freestyle according to Josh, “We have already sold 3 company’s (exits) and have 3 more terms sheets for exits.”
Josh and Dave have had great success an amazing amount of exits in such a short time – a total of 3 exits with 3 more coming shortly.
Freestyle closed their fund I with a total of $27 million in new investment funds. The initial funding for Freestyle was provided through Josh and Dave’s own capital they earned as entrepreneurs. Their recent explosion of success has attracted limited partners, so now they are officially an early stage VC.
I had a chance to speak to one of the founders, Josh Felser last Friday about the news.
Felser says Freestyle Capital is different. “We only do a few deals each per year and get actively involved – in some cases helping do bus dev or product development”.
The Freestyle model is working. In a short time they are matching, and in some cases outpacing some of the bigger names like Ron Conway, Jeff Clavier, and Dave McClure.
Freestyle’s strategy is one of professionalism, focus, targeted investments, and value add. This is what entrepreneurs want in today’s climate. This is radically different then say the top early stage investors like the three I mentioned previously who spray and pray in the quest for numbers, “the more the better”, to increase the odds of a hit.
Freestyle’s approach is grounded in helping the entrepreneur get more than just seed money. They get seasoned entrepreneurs in the form of Josh and Dave on their team. It’s like having a “co-entrepreneur” as a wingman for the venture. This new model only works if “trust” and “integrity” are established which is why it’s so hard for others to pull off.
As the early stage investment world gets more crowded every day, it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand what works best in terms of selecting an early stage investor. At the end of the day it’s more important for entrepreneurs to get value add from their investors than money – it’s not about being popular or influential. Although popularity, drama, and influence are considered important today for some investors, the entrepreneurs are looking for trust, integrity, and value add. The the old way of bullying, collusion, and insider dealings are becoming a thing of the past.
Here is some info from their press release:
Freestyle Capital will focus on providing early-stage startups with both funding and counsel — drawing upon the investment capabilities and real-world experiences of Felser and Samuel — to guide technology startups to the next stage of development. Freestyle Capital is looking for young companies with transformational business ideas presenting seed funding and early stage investment opportunities in the range of $100,000-$500,000.
To date, Freestyle has invested in more than 27 companies, including: GoInstant; Byliner; CrowdFlower; Get Satisfaction; Typekit; about.me (acquired by AOL); BackType (acquired by Twitter); and CoTweet (acquired by ExactTarget).
“Every time we make an investment decision, we draw upon our own deep entrepreneurial experience to unearth the critical success factors for each company — an approach fundamentally different from that of most VCs,” said Felser, co-founder of Freestyle Capital. “Immediately post-investment, we provide a hands-on approach that leverages the knowledge we’ve gained as successful startup CEOs in developing, marketing and leading web-based businesses. Partnering with entrepreneurs at the seed stage is the next best thing to actually being founders ourselves.”
Samuel, who launched his first start up at the age of ten, said: “Like the rest of the world, Josh and I have seen how Internet technologies can transform our lives — but we also know first-hand the long road it takes to get there. This experience is what really sets Freestyle apart from many other investors. With a practiced eye toward bringing solutions to market for real-world business applications, we are excited to ‘pay it forward’ for the newest technology innovators.”