One of the most unfortunate realities of the startup world is the wide gulf that exists between the business and technical sides of most startups. Born, like so many things, out of discomfort with the unknown and exacerbated by the different languages these two groups speak, it’s a reality that is quite pervasive in our community, and seems to materially limit many in the engineering community from taking the plunge and becoming founders. In an effort to demystify the financial side of the business, and with the overarching goal of encouraging entrepreneurially minded engineers to come forward with their ideas, we at Primary are working to foster an open dialogue and empower more would-be/should-be technical founders to step forward.
One thing we always try to impress upon our portfolio companies is that you never know which partnership will develop into the one that ultimately matters most. Today, we are pleased to toast the non-obvious acquisition of our portfolio company Fieldlens, which has just been acquired by WeWork. Fieldlens built a mobile field coordination platform for the construction industry that has been used to coordinate projects big and small, including new Disney theme parks, research hospitals, NYC’s Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts, and thousands of single-family homes.
Eric Liaw, General Partner at IVP, counts some serious ecommerce heavyweights among his list of notable investments. The Honest Company, Mindbody, Glossier, and Supercell are all on his recent roster, and the list extends into software and FinTech, as well. As an experienced late-stage investor, we were thrilled to have Eric lead the discussion at last week’s Primary Table Talk, where 15 of NYC Tech’s leading ecommerce brand makers broke bread and discussed their observations, challenges, and upcoming trends in building D2C consumer brands.
A company is only as good the people who live and work in it. Primary is a people-first organization. We believe that great businesses are built on their ability to attract, retain, and engage the absolute best talent in the marketplace. No matter how compelling the idea, a company won’t get anywhere without the right building blocks. Given the importance of getting those first hires right, and the tendency of most early startups to prioritize product and go-to-market timelines over talent development, we committed, through our Talent Program, to pouring in as many resources as possible to help our companies avoid common early pitfalls and usher them to the next stage.
As we reported in our [Q1 NYC Seed Deal Report], the pace of seed investments in the city slowed again in Q1, as VCs maintain a more cautious approach to investment opportunities. That said, average deal size continues to increase, indicating that investors are willing to shell out for top-quality companies. Sectors that saw the most activity in Q1 include next-gen content and media platforms across a variety of mediums, an ongoing proliferation of healthcare startups and a resurgence of marketing tech as brands continue to seek new ways of reaching customers.
Despite a somewhat disappointing 20% slide in deal volume from Q4 2016 - a 61% drop YoY - early hints of spring are in the air. The VC industry continues to find itself amid a swarm of budding optimism regarding its 2017 prospects. The year is widely expected to be one of rebuilding and so far, 2017 seems to be living up to these expectations.
There’s a feeling you get when you’re surrounded by thousands of like-minded people; a hopeful energy that’s sparked by a common quest for change and ignited by sheer will and imagination. This was the overarching sentiment at last week’s second annual Shoptalk event, which has become the preeminent community gathering for the retail sector. The 5,500 corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in attendance - all of whom are engaged in the massive wave of disruption afoot in the retail space - was testament to the fact that not only are we in the midst of a sea of great change, but that we’ve only just begun to dip our toe in it.
While soaring swiftly to their mountaintop destination, entrepreneurs give their best six-minute pitch to their VC chair lift-mate before racing down the slope and back into the lift queue. This is Peak Pitch, the highly anticipated annual event that Primary has been fortunate to host for the past 11 years at Hunter Mountain. This year’s entrepreneurs were an inspiring representation of the diverse canvas of the NYC Tech, but FinTech won big, with all 3 winners representing the sector's growing strength.