New January Ventures fund will help startups navigate this ‘Darwinian moment’ – TechCrunch

When maren bannon Y jennifer neundorfer first launched their venture capital firm, Jane VC, they wanted to end the practice of “warm introductions” in technology. The goal was to back female founders who weren’t based in Silicon Valley, didn’t have a good relationship with the top investors from their Stanford days, and largely stayed out of venture capital as an asset class.

Fast-forward to today, the firm has certainly delivered on its promise, backing 50 startups to date, 90% of which have a female founder. In 2020, the company was renamed January Ventures to be more inclusive of women from diverse backgrounds.

To bring more of the above to the tech ecosystem, investors such as The Kapor Foundation, Bain Capital Ventures, Marc Andreessen, Arlan Hamilton, Chris Dixon and many other investors have poured new millions behind the duo, who were previously entrepreneurs and classmates from the school of Stanford business. . Announced today, January Ventures has closed $21 million in a new fund, the company’s second investment vehicle to date and largest ever.

Jennifer Neundorfer and Maren Bannon, the co-founders of January Ventures. Image credits: january companies

The fund will write checks of $250,000 to $750,000 to software businesses working on everything from the future of work to fintech and digital health. The launch process is as straightforward as it gets: a two-minute survey, no revenue, launch pad, or warm introduction required.

January Ventures also has an optional survey that collects demographic information about the gender, age, and ethnicity of the founder. It also asks for feedback on how to improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the current sentiment of the founder in the market. This part of the survey does not have an impact on investment interest, the form says.

What stands out the most is that, in a few years, January Ventures is not trying to replace the network, but intends to completely rewrite it. About 18% of investments come from cold email, a metric rarely shared by businesses and likely a space where January leads the pack. More telling, however, is that 36% of investments come from January Ventures’ network of traders. The 100+ person network includes top tech talent, like an engineering manager at Square or a head of growth at Compass.

“It’s almost naive to say, let’s take the network out of the enterprise,” Neundorfer told TechCrunch. “What we’re trying to do is open up the top of the funnel and then really help our portfolio founders get the network they need to navigate through the ecosystem of companies.” Beyond serving as a deal engine, January portfolio companies can use the operator’s network for presentations to clients, other investors or advice.

Even with the fresh capital, January Ventures is much smaller than Tiger Global, Accel and Andreessen Horowitz, all multibillion-dollar companies that have caught on early. So how do less liquid companies compete? The influx of money has certainly made him busier, Bannon said, but it has also led to a bifurcation between those who live in SF and have strong pedigrees and those with more atypical backgrounds. January believes he can continue to win deals by targeting startups earlier than other companies are paying attention. Last week, Andreessen Horowitz unveiled a program aimed at seed-stage founders, her earliest formal foray into early-stage entrepreneurship.

January Ventures isn’t too worried. One of the reasons late-stage investors are flocking to the early-stage scene is because of the correction in tech stocks in the public markets. Neundorfer believes that even young companies are being shocked and tested right now. She believes her focus on backing diverse entrepreneurs means they are already looking for people who are used to navigating bearish sentiment.

“We are in a Darwinian moment,” he said. “In general, our founders are more efficient with capital and know how to stretch the dollars, build in an ambitious way. We are optimistic with our thesis in this market, a market that feels very different from six or 12 months ago”.

Bannon added, “theBefore you are ready to receive a seed check from Tiger Global, a large number of companies must be built.”

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