when Marine Bannon And Jennifer Nondorfer They first launched their venture capital firm, Jane VC, and wanted to end the practice of “warm introductions” in technology. The goal was to support founders who were not residents of Silicon Valley, had no relationship with major investors from their days at Stanford University, and were largely excluded from venture capital as an asset class.
Fast forward to today, and the company has definitely delivered on its promise, supporting 50 startups so far – 90% of which have a female foundation. In 2020, the company rebranded itself as January Ventures to be more inclusive of women from diverse backgrounds.
To get more of the above into the tech ecosystem, investors including The Kapor Foundation, Bain Capital Ventures, Marc Andreessen, Arlan Hamilton, Chris Dixon, and several other investors have pumped new millions into behind the duo, who were previously entrepreneurs and college fellows. Stanford Business. Announced today, January Ventures closed a new $21 million fund, the company’s second investment vehicle to date and largest to date.
The fund will write between $250,000 and $750,000 in software companies working on everything from the future of work to financial technology and digital health. The presentation process is straightforward as it is: a two-minute survey, with no returns, presentation, or warm introduction required.
January Ventures also has an optional survey that collects demographic information about the founder’s gender, age, and ethnicity. It also asks for feedback on how to improve the entrepreneurship ecosystem and the feelings of the current founder in the market. This part of the survey has no effect on investment interest, the form states.
What stands out most is that after a few years, January Ventures did not attempt to replace the network, but rather aimed to completely rewrite it. About 18% of the investment came from cold email, metric companies rarely participate, and it’s likely to be an area where January tops the pack. Most telling, however, is that 36% of the investments are from January Ventures’ network of operators. The 100-plus network includes top tech talent, such as the Director of Engineering at Square or the Head of Growth at Compass.
“It would be naive to say, let’s take the network out of the project,” Neundorfer told TechCrunch. “What we’re trying to do is kind of open the top of the funnel, and then really help those founders in our portfolio get the network they need to move through the project ecosystem.” Besides serving as a deal mover, January portfolio companies can use the operator’s network to make offers to clients or other investors or provide advice.
Even with the new capital, January Ventures is much smaller than the likes of Tiger Global, Accel and Andreessen Horowitz – all companies, managing billions of dollars, that have turned their eyes to the early stage. So how do companies with less liquidity compete? Bannon said the influx of money certainly made her busier, but it also led to a bifurcation between those who live in San Francisco with strong pedigree, and those from atypical backgrounds. January thinks he can continue to win deals if he focuses on startups earlier than other companies are paying attention. Last week, Andreessen Horowitz unveiled a program targeting early stage founders, his first formal foray into stage one entrepreneurship.
January Ventures is not too concerned. One of the reasons why late-stage investors are crowded into the early-stage scene is a re-correction of tech stocks in the public markets. Neundorfer believes that even startups are being tested and put to the test right now. She believes that their focus on supporting diverse entrepreneurs means that they are already looking for people who are used to dealing with downward sentiment.
“We are in a Darwinian moment,” she said. “Overall, our founders are more capital efficient and know how to scale dollars, and build in an ambitious way. We are optimistic about our thesis in this market, a market that feels very different than it did six or 12 months ago.”
Bannon added, “TheThere’s a lot of corporate building going on before you’re ready for an initial Tiger Global check.”