C2V Jan 2020 Notes from the Trenches

Welcome to the first in a new decade of C2V newsletters (that’s right, you’re getting at least 10 more years of this… every month… you’re welcome). 

Notwithstanding some confusing developments in the world at large (mostly that there appears to be a Super Bowl planned for this weekend which doesn’t include the New England Patriots), things continue to hum here in the trenches.

2019 was obviously a landmark year for us with the launch of our first institutional fund, so let’s kick off the new year with a quick recap on that front.

C2V Capital Partners I Updates:

  • First close in early September 2019

  • More than 230 inbound investment opportunities evaluated to date

  • Six investments thus far:

    • 4 Enterprise SaaS companies in Commercial Transportation, MarTech, Legal Ops and Data Analytics

    • Direct-to-Consumer companies in the rapidly growing Wellness and Home Fitness spaces

  • Established Operator Bench of 25 LPs with extensive founder and senior tech exec experience actively engaging with these companies

  • Early portfolio company traction: 201% growth in aggregate monthly revenues over the last 9 months of 2019

Speaking of the Operator Bench, we’ve recently added new LPs from Facebook and Hulu to an already impressive crew and our initial group has hit the ground running, with C2V LPs co-investing in some of our deals and actively advising several of our portfolio companies.

We’ll also be investing in at least two more companies in Q1, including a consumer-focused cleantech company and at least one additional direct-to-consumer apparel company. However, this month, we profile our most recent investment — and second DTC company in the rapidly growing consumer wellness space — Otari. 

Otari - Studio Quality Workouts at Home

Otari is a screen-equipped exercise mat geared toward equipment-light activities (e.g., yoga, boot camp, pilates, etc.), developed by founders Chris Kruger and Skyler Erickson while studying together at Cornell Tech (and eventually winning the Cornell Tech Startup Award for their efforts). 

Like other home exercise products, Otari brings fitness studios into users’ homes, offering both live-streaming and pre-recorded classes, but Otari doesn’t stop there.  Using computer vision and machine learning to monitor body movements in a three-dimensional space, Otari acts as a virtual personal trainer, providing automated real-time feedback during workouts (correcting form, counting reps, etc.). 

Costing a fraction of the price of existing home exercise products, Otari also offers a wider variety of class options and is compact enough not only to fit into any sized living space but also to pack and take on the road with you. 

Otari’s official product launch is scheduled for early Q2 and they are taking pre-orders today.

Stories Summit – April 16th, NYC

The big day is coming up fast! We have 50 registered guests (and counting), so now’s the time to get yourself involved and tell your awesome founder friends to sign up as well before space runs out. Learn more and request your ticket here.

As we’ve noted previously, this is not your traditional conference, but rather a day of interactive dialogue among those who have been there before and those who are in the thick of it now. We fully expect every person in the room to walk out smarter, more prepared to face the challenges in front of them and with a clearer focus and perspective than when they walked in.

To that end, here is a sampling of what the day will entail:

  • How to Avoid Startup Failure

  • How to Deal With “That” Board Member

  • How I Blew My Seed Money

  • Staff Mediation: Dealing With Difficult People

  • Pivoting for Startups

  • 10 Things Every Seed and Pre-Seed Startup Needs to Know

  • How I Screwed up My Venture Fund

  • Staying Calm and Grounded During Difficult Times

  • VC Dos and Don’ts

  • Content Creation for Startups

You can find additional and always up to date information on Stories Summit content here.

Complementary Skill Sets in Action

For those of you who have had the distinct pleasure of being on the receiving end of our fund pitch, you know that we believe Chris’ and Matt’s complementary skill sets are and will continue to be a key driver of success for us. 

Lest you thought this was limited to our obvious “frontman” and “guitarist with mystique” dynamic (we’ll let you guess who’s the Plant and who’s the Page), Matt decided to throw his hat in the ring and blog about a topic near and dear to his side of the C2V yin and yang: numbers. 

And more specifically, why numbers matter to investors the world over and why they should matter more to VCs.

The piece will be going live soon, but we wanted to give our loyal subscribers a sneak peek. Here’s a short excerpt (mainly to assure you that the post isn’t nearly as dry as we just made it sound).

Raising $100mm+ funding rounds every 6 months isn’t something to celebrate. In fact, it’s usually a cry for help. Anyone who’s seen Ocean’s Eleven will surely remember the opening scene with Brad Pitt’s character, Rusty, teaching a group of actors how to play five-card draw.

Every time I read another of these articles reporting, in reverential tones, how much money a late-stage startup has raised, I’m reminded of the moment when one of the celebrity card-players tries to replace four of his five cards and Rusty says “You don’t want four [cards], you want to fold.”

Surprisingly lively, right? We’ll let you know when it’s published so you can give it a look and let us know what you think.

Elsewhere in C2V Land

Super Powers Podcast

Don’t forget to check out the Superpowers Podcast, where Bill Wise and Chris are having a blast interviewing some really fun and thoughtful people.

In the latest edition, Chris and Bill talked with Narrative I/O founder Nick Jordan about how to find winners.

You can find all the shows here, and please subscribe and listen on your favorite podcast service. 

Anything Else?

Actually, no, I think we’re done here.  Just a quick reminder to check out the latest words of inspiration (and a whole lot more) on our C2V Instagram account, our recently launched Stories Summit Instagram account, and if you need that extra dose of Vitamin C[2V], Chris’s Twitter account is always a nice shot in the… um… arm.    

We sincerely appreciate all the help and support from our investors, founders, and friends in getting us to where we are today (and we especially appreciate all of you who’ve actually read this far in the newsletter – goes without saying that you’re our clear favorites). 

Until next month (when Chris interviews the groundhog about his pioneering disruption of the forecasting industry)…

- Chris & Matt