Last year I launched an experiment. I started a small venture fund. I wanted to make great investments, work with great entrepreneurs, and explore some specific hypotheses around finding great companies.
I slapped Arnold Capital on the experiment as a placeholder, always planning to announce a name when the time was right. Today’s the day.
I’d like to introduce Switch Ventures.
It’s not every day that you get to name a venture fund. I didn't want to overlook the value of that. Names give meaning to what we do. In some ways, they can define us. Often they are the first impression we make.
Telling the Story
Everyone knows Sequoia, a brand burnished by decades funding the transformative companies. Back when Don Valentine founded the firm in 1972, it was one of few venture capital firms in Silicon Valley.
Today, differentiation is much more important.
I am inspired by the name-stories of younger funds like Harrison Metal, Data Collective, First Round, Bloomberg Beta, Homebrew—great funds that have built standout brands over a short period of time.
These funds share something: Their names help tell their stories. Homebrew pays homage to the Homebrew Computer Club. Bloomberg Beta is about experimentation. First Round is about supporting founders at the earliest stages. Harrison Metal alludes to the maker economy. Data Collective is about their big data community.
My story: I invest in talented people who break tradition. It’s a name that nods to the types of founders I support: I am interested in talented founders who break out to create something new. Founder who make that switch.
I love founders who have the talent to pursue a prestigious path, to rise in the usual structures, yet they do something crazy—they launch a startup. They have that itch, that need to build something. They are founders like:
- Jennifer Fitzgerald of PolicyGenius, who left her partner-track role at McKinsey with Francois de Lame because they knew there was something bigger to solve for insurance consumers.
- Danielle Morrill who shut down her first startup and from the ashes built Mattermark, providing the analytic tools she herself needed to understand the startup ecosystem.
- Derek, Benn, and Josh of Mode, who left behind cushy Microsoft acquisition retention packages to build the analytics platform they always wished they had.
- Josh Jarrett of Koru, who departed the Gates Foundation to join cofounder Kristen Hamilton to build the company they know recent graduates need to thrive in the workplace.
- Chris Finneral of SketchDeck or Jason Shah of Do, who could have had Ivy League MBAs paid for by McKinsey, but recognized that they are entrepreneurs at heart and that there was no better time to start building that right now.
- Eliam Medina of Willing, inspired by events in his life, who left the executive world to build a product that offers a simple way to create a will.
- Darren, Chris, Danielle, and Jono of Interviewed, who at their last startup discovered a better way to hire and knew they could improve it for everyone else.
- Tommy Sowers of SoloPro, who saw that he could do real estate better, prestige be damned, when he put meteoric rise in D.C. on pause to launch a startup.
Switch tells a second story too—a story about the type of companies we are building. Companies that change the way things work. Startups that make a step-change difference and define whole new spaces. Startups that have the potential to scale dramatically and make a real dent in the universe.
So with that, here’s to a big year in 2016 of continuing to build our community of like-minded, outperforming founders like these.