By Chris Langford, Partner

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The evolution of IDEA Fund Partners’ investment thesis has been one of the most interesting and rewarding exercises that I have been involved in professionally. As the firm has doubled in size over the last 18 months from the two original team members to include myself and our Principal Joe and as our ambitions have grown along with it, we have been thoroughly evaluating every aspect of the IFP platform. This includes future fund size, check sizes, investor composition, geographic focus and areas of interest. Through this blog series, we will continue to unveil that evolution piecemeal to help walk through our future investment thesis and provide insight into how we got there. …


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By: Joe Darcy, Principal

Much has been written of late about the flight from big cities. San Francisco vacancies are skyrocketing and Manhattan rents are plummeting. And while I personally don’t believe the big cities are “dead” - there is no replacement in my mind for hustling to “make it” in a big city as a young professional and the sophistication of growth capital infrastructure is damn near impossible to replicate - I also believe a fundamental awakening has occurred in the world of startups which founders should carefully consider. …


Part-time, remote position experiencing life as a VC

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As one of the oldest and most active early-stage venture capital firms in the Southeast, IDEA Fund Partners’ investment philosophy has been honed from years of experience. Based in Durham, NC, we fund entrepreneurs who are applying technology and business model innovations to industries in the earliest stages of digital disruption with an emphasis on overlooked people, places and stages.

We are seeking ambitious, engaged, and intellectually curious candidates to join the Venture Fellows program, assisting with an array of firm matters and examining the next generation of startups and innovation. This internship is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, with an approximate time commitment of 10–15 hours per week. …


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By: Lister Delgado, Managing Partner

One of the things I love about the work that I do as a VC is the strategic aspect of investing. It’s easy to think that managing a fund is simply looking for good entrepreneurs with good ideas to invest in. The reality is that fund strategy is something that general partners have to spend a lot of time thinking about if they want to stay in the job for long. The strategic decisions investors make have a significant impact on their fund performance beyond the success of the companies they invest in.

One of these decisions is the size of the first check a fund writes to a company. This is not a trivial decision. It has implications on total fund returns and can make the difference between having an average or a top-performing fund. If a fund is to succeed in the venture game, the returns from its winners will more than make up for the failures of its losers. Making larger initial investments is one of the things a venture fund can do to maximize its return potential, yet this isn’t what most venture funds do in practice. …


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By: John Cambier, Managing Partner

In working a prospective new investment recently, I was reminded that a VC’s process of considering a company/founder/CEO for investment, and their considering from whom to take an investment is, essentially, a courtship. To extend the metaphor, you are going through a dating process to decide if you want to get “married”. Sometimes these interactions lead to a union, but most times they do not.

Whether you’re the investor looking for the right company or the entrepreneur looking for the right investor, there are going to be a lot of “first dates”. One material difference in how the investment dating process differs from an actual dating process is that, with few exceptions, there is an inherent imbalance in the power dynamic between the investor and the entrepreneur. Generally speaking, it is easier to be the person with the money than the person looking for it (I’m reminded of this every time we go out to raise a new fund, by the way). As the investor, I know I have been guilty at times of abusing this power dynamic; not via intentional or malicious actions, but in some of the more subtle, yet important ways in which I interact with the person on the other end of the pitch. It is important (for me) to keep in mind that, regardless of any real or perceived power imbalance, I am being evaluated by the entrepreneur at the same time that I am evaluating them. …


Demystifying the VC Underwriting Process

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A question I often get from Founders

By: Chris Langford, Partner

One of the hardest aspects of being a venture capitalist is constantly telling bright, ambitious people endlessly toiling at their life’s passion that I am not going to fund them. It sucks. Naturally, I am often asked the question, “how do you decide what to invest in?” Usually this is in response to a rejection, but some entrepreneurs seek this guidance proactively to better tailor their interactions. …


An Inside Look through the Eyes of Our Summer Interns

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This Summer, IDEA Fund Partners hosted our largest ever class of Summer Interns. These students from around the country were not merely observers on the sidelines -they played an integral part in the team by being fully immersed in the deal review, due diligence, and broader strategy of the firm. Their contributions and insights will last much longer than the ten weeks they spent with us. They have shared some of their biggest takeaways from the summer:


IDEA Fund Partners’ action plan towards creating a more inclusive venture industry

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The venture capital industry has a major diversity problem that is both stark and systemic — and the statistics are startling. Entrepreneurs of color receive less than 1/3 of the total startup dollars as compared to their white counterparts while female-led companies raised only 2.2% of total industry dollars compared to their male counterparts.

We suspect that much of this has to do with the composition of who makes those decisions and how those decisions get made. According to the NVCA/Deloitte survey titled “Diversity & Inclusion in the VC Industry,” 76% of the entire VC workforce is white while 86% of all investment partners are male. Reinforcing these issues are many industry practices such as requiring warm introductions, over-weighting being a previous founder or reliance on “gut instinct” and rules of thumb to determine what investments to make in early stages. …

About

IDEA Fund

IDEA Fund Partners is one of the oldest and most active early stage VCs headquartered in the Southeast United States.

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