New York City based FirstMark Capital recently announced FirstSteps, the firm’s new seed-funding program.FirstMark has always been involved in seed rounds, but the new program represents a greater emphasis on very early stage companies, which FirstMark thinks will increasingly be necessary to bring in the huge returns that venture capitalists are accustomed to.
Lawrence Lenihan, CEO and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital, explains the thinking thus:
Companies can now be developed for a fraction of the cost than they could just a few years ago and get to market in a fraction of the time. The impact of this dynamic is that companies develop sooner and grow faster with less capital. That means that we venture capitalists have to adjust our business model and be able to invest earlier and in smaller amounts.
So, what are the companies FirstMark thinks can keep the cash rolling in?
Over the past year, FirstSteps has invested in 10 startups, putting $250,000-$750,000 in to each. Many are still in stealth mode, and none have been around long enough to judge, but we’ve taken a quick look at each.
GoodCrush is an online dating service for college students. You enter the names of people you're interested in; GoodCrush keeps the information anonymous unless that person independently indicates that they are interested in you.
PackLate is a travel startup that helps you find rental homes in vacation destinations at the last minute, for steep discounts.
This is obviously a crowded field, and its too soon to say how PackLate hopes to set itself apart.
FirstMark's press release describes Ahalife as 'a globally curated commerce platform that provides a guided lifestyle shopping experience for women.'
FirstMark's managing director, Amish Jani told us it was 'luxury meets social meets curation.'
Make of those what you will. We'll see what it is when it launches.
There's very little information available about NetComp so far, but what we do know is that it's a 'virtual insurance company' focused on workers compensation claims.
Amish says that while the insurance industry has always been slow to innovate and adopt new technologies, a handful of tools have been released recently that make launching virtual insurance companies easy, and that we should expect to see plenty of them in the near future.