At Index, seed investing is part of our DNA. Since 1995, we've made over 40 seed deals, with over 30 in the last 5 years including Moo, DimDim, Moshi Monsters, Boku, Songkick, Weatherbill and Viagogo. We are really energized by seed investing, because it gives us a chance to work with entrepreneurs at the earliest stages and really help them shape their businesses.
Today, we're announcing the formation of Index Seed, to build on our heritage but most importantly to take the service we can offer entrepreneurs to the next level.
Why are we doing this?
This is what we love to do. Oh, and we also think it's a great opportunity - both for entrepreneurs and investors.
Over the last decade we've all seen the economics of startups change radically and we've been lucky with our investments in companies like MySQL, Zend, Skype, Right Scale, Moo, Playfish and Boku as well as our involvement with Seedcamp and TAG to have a front row seat supporting the evolution of the startup economy.
On the cost side, founders now can rely on the foundations of open source, Skype, cloud computing and software-as-service to rapidly and cheaply build out their infrastructure and on the distribution and revenue side, we are only just starting to be able to appreciate the incredible leverage startups can gain from emerging platforms for both distribution (Facebook, Apple, Twitter) and monetization & payment (AdSense and Paypal).
These are exciting times to be an entrepreneur and compared to when I was starting businesses in the mid 90s, not only is it a lot cheaper (I still remember our $1m SGI Indigo web server in 1995!) but the wealth of information and support for startups out there today is incredible. The world has opened up to entrepreneurs and you can really get a running jump by becoming part of the conversation on Twitter, going to one of 80+ OpenCoffee Clubs around the world, reading great blogs from the likes of Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Brad Feld, Chris Dixon, Steve Blank, Eric Ries, Sean Ellis and Dave McClure, getting your news from Techcrunch and getting your first support from Seedcamp, YCombinator and Techstars.
But let's not kid ourselves, its still super difficult to be an entrepreneur even though costs have plummeted and the opportunities have only increased.
So what are we doing?
First, we are allocating a dedicated pool of capital to do seed deals. We aim to do around 20 seed deals in the next 24 months.
Second, we are putting a clearer face and focus on what we do in seed - Index Seed will be the new umbrella for our seed investing and you can follow us here and @indexseed.
Three, we're strengthening our team by joining forces with Robin and TAG. We are really excited to pool our collective intelligence to better support founders at the seed stage. TAG has done over 60 seed deals in the last decade, over 10 with Index and built a great track record of supporting great European founders. Robin will be spending two days a week at Index as a Venture Partner and working with us to lead the Index Seed initiative.
Four, we are creating a dedicated team for our seed investing. Robin & I will be joined here by Danny, Mike and Neil - all of whom will lead seed deals and be the key points of access for entrepreneurs looking for seed investment.
Five, to make us as easy to do business with as any other active seed or angel investor we are optimizing our process for due diligence and legals. We can make decisions quickly, don't need a board seat, expect rights that are the same as other seed investors and can invest as little as $50k or as much as $1m in a seed round.
What kind of deals do we like to do?
We will have a technology focus, obvious but we also have a thriving seed approach in our Life Sciences team (a recent example is Pangenetics).
We are still looking to back the same types of businesses - ambitious entrepreneurial teams from Europe, Israel and the US with global ambitions for their companies.
In addition, we will work very pro-actively with fellow travelers. We think building great businesses takes time and is a team game. We love to work with other seed investors and believe that the combination of a great team of investors to compliment a great team of founders is a vital ingredient in successful seed investments.
Who do we love working with?
The notion of fellow travelers - investors (angels, seed and venture) who share our philosophy of active engagement with seed stage teams - is the central part of our investment philosophy. In the nearly 100 or more seed deals, we have collectively done, we have seen time and again how important it is for founders to have not just relevant investors at the seed stage but investors who are accessible, honest and engaged.
In addition to TAG, we look forward to continuing to work with great fellow travelers at this stage including from left to right on the map; Jeff Clavier, Dave McClure, Aydin Senkut, Ron Conway, Reid Hoffman, Satish Dharmaraj, OATV, YCombinator, Betaworks, Union Square, First Round Capital, Stefan Glaenzer, Klaus Hommels and Joi Ito. We are also super excited by the emergence of dedicated seed and early stage funds in the US and Europe like True, Floodgate, Founder Collective, Eden and ProFounders so we can continue to expand our network of fellow seed travelers.
Business as usual, with a twist - leave us comments, follow us on @indexseed or reach us through our fellow travelers. We look forward to hearing about your game changing business.