We are often asked “How do you source your deals?” While every deal is different, there are some consistent sources. We preach transparency here at Corigin Ventures, so in that vein, here is every deal we’ve done in the last 18 months (that’s when I started), the source of the deal, and some background context. We continually look back at this list to understand what sources are most valuable to us.
Hopefully this can be helpful to founders (and potentially other investors) in the following ways:
- An inside look at how we look at deals here at Corigin
- Debunk the misconception that all VCs just ‘fund their bros’
- Insight into the relative value of certain events, conferences, accelerators, demo days
- Learn to navigate and leverage your personal network to get the most effective intros
In date order:
Note: This does not include the 7 investments that were made prior to my arrival at Corigin
Poshly – Fashion Tech Forum (Conference)
My first deal! I met Doreen Bloch, Founder/CEO, at the conference where she was exhibiting Poshly as part of Startup Alley. I was impressed in the little time we spent in conversation, so I immediately followed up next day. We committed less than 4 weeks later.
Transfix – Personal Network
I was digging into the in-home, on-demand beauty space, and got together with a friend of my wife, Amy Diaz, who had spent time at one of the startups, to get some insight. At the end of the coffee chat, she said “if you like on-demand, I know a developer that build out the app for the above-mentioned startup (as a side project), and was working on something really interesting dealing with on-demand trucking”. That developer happened to be Jonathan Salama, co-founder/CTO of Transfix. We invited them to our office the following week, and immediately hit it off, and closed a deal about a month later.
Chicory – ERA Demo Day
We haven’t had the most success with companies coming out of accelerators, but Chicory was the lone exception to date. We came in already thinking about the at-home-cooking space, namely that the Plated and Blue Apron model would shift to a more on-demand model from grocers. So when we saw Chicory at Demo Day, we were immediately drawn to their table (the free food didn’t hurt). They were super-early-stage, but we hit it off with the founders and all had an aligned vision.
Stylisted – Targeted Outreach
As mentioned above, we were bullish on the in-home, on-demand space, specifically in the beauty industry. We had two potential targets that were further along, but wanted to speak to them all to understand the competitive landscape. I came across Stylisted, and cold-emailed the founders, and came away from our initial talk quite impressed with Lauren and Julia. They were a bit too early, but we continued monthly check-ins, and got really serious after about 5 months. After a few months more of tracking and digging in, we wrote a check.
Perch Interactive – Targeted Outreach
I read about Perch in an article discussing the participants in NYFTL. I was intrigued given my fashion-tech background, so cold-emailed Jared. We had some conversations, but I didn’t fully grasp the product, vision, and use case. The watershed moment was Jared getting Ryan and myself to his showroom to see the product demos in person. We committed to leading the round just a few weeks later.
fitmob (acquired by ClassPass) – Investor Referral
Sent over to us by Ryan Melohn of ExpansionVC. We have an ongoing dialogue on deals as both of our firms have a connection to real estate. And some people think we look alike.
SherpaShare – Investor Referral
While grabbing coffee and discussing deal flow with Kate Shillo of Galvanize, we shared our interest and experience in the on-demand economy, and she shared the SherpaShare deal.
Vixxenn – Investor Referral
Charlie O’Donnell (of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures), notorious for being ‘first money in,’ was leading the deal and helping Nicole close out the round. Given our past investments in consumer as well as beauty companies, he shot us a note about it, and we eventually wound up joining.
Aloha – Capital Advisor
We don’t take a ton of pitches from middlemen or bankers, but we had a solid relationship with the guys over at Ingress Capital. We looked at some previous deals, and appreciated the way they curated diligenced. They brought us Aloha, which we had heard about before (they were one floor above Zeel’s office). We loved the market, and were blown away by the founder, Constantin, and his ability to inspire all those around him, including his top-notch team and A-list investor list.
Brad’s Raw Foods – Personal Network
A friend of our chairman had invested in the LOHAS fund that owns/operates Brad’s other brands. We were introduced, and built a strong relationship over the next 6 months, looking at multiple deals, and closing one.
Mighty – Founder Referral
Though he only shows up here once, Zeel CEO Samer Hamadeh has been one of our best sources of deals, tapping into his own professional and personal network. He has also been incredibly valuable to tap for his knowledge and operational expertise, and has gotten involved in diligence in deals.
Deeplink – Capital Advisor
We don’t have the bandwith to dive deep into international markets, so Keshet Advisors is a solid relationship connecting us with great tech teams in Israel. Some of our portfolio companies were already using the Deeplink network, so it was an easier sell for us.
Latch – Investor Referral
We were introduced by Casey Berman of Camber Creek. They are part of our network consisting of those with real estate ties, and they were earlier investor in Latch, who was going through the R/GA Techstars hardware accelerator at the time. We met the team, but didn’t wind up investing til the next round (kicking ourselves for waiting).
ClassWallet – Investor Referral
Our analyst, Jason Shuman, met one of the angel investors (Joe Morgan) as they both judged a University of Miami business plan competition.
VNTANA – Investor Referral
I’ve been spending some time out in LA, as I’m bullish on the tech/startup ecosystem out there, and see an opportunity for early-stage investors. On my first trip out there, I scheduled meetings with as many relevant investors as possible, including Upfront, Mucker, Karlin, Wavemaker, Pritzger Group, CAA/WME/UTA, and others (came away even more optimistic). One such meeting was with Suzy Ryoo, who works with Troy Carter at Atom Factory. We discussed tons of current and potential deals, including our investment in Perch Interactive. She mentioned that we should take a look at VNTANA, which had some similarities, but may be a bit early (they were not investors in the company). She made the intro, and I blocked out just 20 minutes to stop by their office. Needless to say, when I saw the amazing things Ashley and Ben were doing with hologram technology, I was immediately intrigued. We kept a dialogue going, and I meet up with them again in NY at their installation at the US Open (Mercedes Benz paid for a Roger Federer hologram experience), where it all started to click for us, and led to an investment soon after.
Leo – Investor Referral
I go to a lot of conferences, meetups, events, etc. While I meet some great companies there, often the most value is in meeting and networking with other investors. While at Siemer Summit this past year out in LA, I was introduced to Brad Holden of Tomorrow Ventures. We set up a call to learn more about eachother, and our interest in physical real estate plays led him to discuss Leo, and eventually make an intro to the founder.. He was not yet an investor (though later made a personal investment).
My biggest takeaways
- This is a people business, and your network is the most valuable asset as an investor.
- Deals can come from anywhere/anyone, including when you least expect it.
- You have to give to receive.
- An investor needs to have a specific focus (whether a stage, sector, etc) to access quality deals.
I’d love to hear from other investors, and how they optimize their own deal flow and network. Conversely, I encourage founders to share their thoughts on the above, and how they view from their perspective.
Image credit: CC by U.S. Geological Survey