Three months ago, Anthony Pompliano launched Full Tilt Capital with one mission: to build the best early stage fund in the world.
Now, Pompliano and his cofounder, Jason Williams, have completed 22 deals in 90 days, a frenetic pace that’s unusual in the venture capital investing.
Many VC firms complete that many deals over the course of a year, usually because they spend time sifting through hundreds of pitches and doing due diligence on a handful of startups before narrowing it down to those they want to invest in.
Pompliano said that process is unnecessary for the kind of companies that Full Tilt is investing in.
“The due diligence that most venture capital firms do is on data that is not available because we’re so early,” he said.
“There are plenty of investors that I know who do financial modelling and all this planning. But when it’s a person and an idea, what are you going to do? Do a background check on the person? There’s nothing to do other than talking to them and understanding what they want to do and who this person is as a human.”
48 hour timetable
Full Tilt’s average investment is about $100,000 per company and they have invested in startups ranging from a service that lets you charter a bus for carpooling on demand to one that provides market intelligence for apps. Pompliano said they have looked at about 400 deals since August, and the only deals Full Tilt won’t take on are international companies, companies in sectors where he and Williams have very little expertise, and startups that don’t have ambitions to be high-growth companies.
Pompliano spent a year as a Facebook product manager, worked on the growth team at Snapchat, founded his own startup, and was a sergeant in the Army. Williams founded a healthcare startup in the early 2000s and runs a rubber waste management company. Now, the pair lives about 20 minutes away from each other in North Carolina.
“My life goal was definitely not to be an investor,” Pompliano says.
The firm is trying to take a new approach to venture capital. Pompliano and Williams signed on several companies before they had ever raised money from limited partners, and they typically spend only 48 hours considering a deal. The only factors they consider are whether they believe in the founders themselves and the potential for their ideas.
A pulse on reality
Full Tilt opts to stay far outside the Silicon Valley bubble — literally on the other side of the country — for a specific reason.
“I think we’re more grounded,” Pompliano said. “I think we have a better pulse on reality when it comes to mass market trends and preferences because we’re outside of those echo chambers. There’s no Sand Hill Road in North Carolina. That’s not a shot at those guys, but there is an element of everyone’s always trying to impress each other.”
Full Tilt is often the first investor in a deal, Pompliano said, and in a few cases have been the only investor. He says being the only firm to invest in a startup doesn’t bother him.
In fact, he’s proud of it.
“I have no problem telling other venture capitalists, if they’re waiting for social proof of other investors in, they should get out of the business because they have no conviction and no courage,” Pompliano said.
Pompliano thinks the fund is “probably the most active venture fund up to this point,” and said Full Tilt has no plans to slow down the pace at which they’re doing deals.
“There are investment funds and firms that try to pick the winners,” he said. “In our eyes, it’s more about building the companies. As we become more efficient and more decisive, I think that we will only go faster.”
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