Innovators seeking funding should keep in mind that venture capital firms each have their own approach, depending on their strengths and strategies.
Venture capital firms have varied approaches
Founder and venture partner at Fontinalis Partners, started with Bill Ford and Ralph Booth in 2009
"We believe we were pioneers and the first movers in this [mobility] space. But mobility was pretty narrowly defined back then: Uber and Lyft didn't exist, lidar companies didn't exist. … Some of our first investments were smart parking, pay by cellphone. Parkmobile was a company we invested in early on and ended up selling to BMW.
"But it has expanded in the last decade, so we expanded our definition of mobility with it. And it now includes movement of goods, services, people — and it's not just auto but marine, logistics, air, trucking, lots of things. But it's still future mobility as a focus."
Partner, head of Hella Ventures
"We strongly prefer to invest in startups alongside top-tier financial VC like Kleiner Perkins or Lightspeed Venture Partners. ... and we only invest if we can convince an executive VP at Hella to commit to work with the startup.
"If we get involved, then you have our commitment that we will roll up our sleeves and work with the company to actually bring them to market. Combining these two things is more work-intensive because you're not only an investor but you're also supporting the startup as an internal business developer. But ultimately you're seen as somebody who helps the VC community, the startup community and provides tangible benefits to Hella, which in the long run provides you access to the best companies in the world."
Partner at Co-Created
"We partner with big corporations who are facing a lot of sideways disruption from new startups or new technologies. We work with them to first scan the market to see if there's any potential acquisitions ... because a lot of the times the C-suite won't hear about these companies until they're already ... making too big of a mess for them. If there aren't any good deals to be done, then we co-create a new digital business, which is separated enough from the core business that it can really kind of flourish on its own as a true startup.
"It's got about an 18-month runway. And then ... they either continue to operate it as a separate subsidiary or they bring it into ... the bigger organization. Some of them they'll sell off because that can help their balance sheet. And then finally, some of them just don't work and so we shut those down."
Managing director at Motoring Ventures
“Our approach is to encourage businesses that the next growth market opportunity ... is the African continent. So whether that be automakers, Tier 1 or Tier 2 suppliers or aftermarket product manufacturers. We try to show them the opportunity of the growing markets around the continent: 1.3 billion people growing to 2.5 billion people, the largest work force in the world will be on the African continent by 2035.
“If you look at the 90 million vehicles that are produced per year — the African continent with 17 percent of the world’s population, producing a little more than 1.5 percent of the world’s vehicles — it kind of shows the opportunity.”
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.