Entrepreneurs Roundtable held their monthly meetup recently at Microsoft’s Time Square office. The event started with a talk by Scott Levine, Managing Director at Time Warner Investments followed by pitches from five preselected startups and one chosen from the audience.
Scott has been with Time Warner investments since 2011, where he actively sources and evaluates media and technology companies. He started his career as an engineer and has experience as an entrepreneur. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and later dropped out of graduate school after realizing that writing code was not the life for him. Prior to TWI, Scott has been a part of four companies, the first which was a company which developed a code compression algorithm, similar to Pied Piper, which was later sold to another venture backed startup.
Time Warner Investments is the strategic venture group within Time Warner that invests in mid-stage companies. They typically take part in startups Series B rounds and with a check size between $3-10 million. Some of their current investments include Adaptly, Mashable, Fuse, and Conviva. Some notable exits include Admeld, one of the first companies to optimize display ads, which was sold to Google in 2011 at around $400 million and Everyday Health (NYSE: EVDY), which IPO’d in2014.
Compared to entrepreneurship, Scott describes working in venture capital as “safer,” but nonetheless still with challenges. His team is extremely busy reviewing investment opportunities. They review 700 emails and company overviews each year, engage 200, perform diligence on about 15, and only invest in 3 to 5. He has two main criteria for investing. Will the company produce a large enough financial return for the business? And is the company of strategic interest to Time Warner? TWI looks for investments that will one day be a good business partner for parent company. Their strategic interests changes every year. Recently they have been focusing on adtech, online video, next generation content publishers, and virtual reality. Scott seemed very excited about his recent investment in NextVR, a virtual reality broadcast platform that allows the viewer to feel as though they are at live sporting events.
Scott concluded by advising startups to choose their investors wisely. First, make sure the investor is focused on your sector and can provide value. Second, if they are the right stage investor for you. And lastly, make sure you choose investors that you think it will be a good match for who you want to work with long time. People need to realize that you will be with that person for 8 -10 years.
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