FirstMark Capital announced the creation of a seed investment program called FirstSteps. It also announced the program’s first 10 investments: Ahalife, AppFirst, GoodCrush, NetComp, MarketFactory, MyCityWay, Packlate, Payoff, Pinterest and Turiya.
FirstMark Capital, an early stage venture capital firm investing in innovative technology and technology-enabled businesses, today formally announced its seed investment program, FirstSteps. Founded in early 2009, FirstSteps has already seeded 10 companies disrupting traditional business models in their respective industries, including emerging media and advertising, data and analytics, infrastructure and vertical applications.
Cloud computing, open source software, and ubiquitous broadband penetration have enabled companies to be created at a fraction of the cost it once took, fundamentally changing the investment landscape. FirstMark Capital addressed this new venture environment by supporting founders with seed capital at the earliest stages of a company’s development. FirstSteps’ seeded companies benefit from the experience, insight and relationships FirstMark Capital has developed by partnering with world-class entrepreneurs and building a portfolio of more than 200 companies since inception, including StubHub, Netgear and Outlooksoft.
“We formalized FirstSteps more than a year ago to identify and nurture disruptive technologies and to offer visionary entrepreneurs the hands-on guidance needed to be successful,” said Lawrence D. Lenihan, CEO and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital. “Considering the history of the firm and our seed investments in such companies as Outlooksoft and Riot Games, the FirstSteps program is really a formalization of an investment philosophy we’ve always subscribed to – partnering with exceptional teams early to offer the critical resources needed to become a market leader.”
One of the first seeded companies to participate in the FirstSteps program is AppFirst, the industry’s first SaaS-based application infrastructure performance monitoring solution. Launched at the Under the Radar Commercializing the Cloud event in April, AppFirst won high honors, receiving the Judges and Audience Choice Awards in the application development management category. In less than a year since its seed funding of $1 million, the company has introduced a general availability product in a highly complex area, has live production customers and a rapidly growing pipeline.
“FirstMark Capital has been both an investor and true business partner to AppFirst,” said David Roth, CEO and co-founder of AppFirst. “From the very beginning, the team has lent valuable expertise, helped identify talent and ensured the company had the seed investment partners needed for long-term success. This collaborative partnership has enabled AppFirst to seize unique market opportunities and launch the industry’s first and only, real-time, proactive, application infrastructure performance monitoring solution to solve the gap of operational excellence.”
Another FirstSteps seeded company receiving much attention and industry praise is Turiya Media, which helps game publishers mine and analyze user data. The company was recently selected as the top startup in the Who’s Got Game Competition at the GamesBeat@GDC event in March. Judges of the competition selected Turiya as the winner because it offered a “critical piece of functionality.” Turiya’s product suite enables game developers and publishers to understand user engagement and optimize both the customer experience and monetization opportunities.
“We are thrilled with the early success and recognition Turiya has received,” said Chethan Ramachandran, founder and CEO of Turiya. “As the online gaming industry continues to grow, and more independent publishers come onto the scene, we believe there will be much demand and market opportunity for technology solutions that optimize the user experience. With a strong institutional partner in FirstMark Capital and a seasoned team of venture capitalists on our side, we are confident we have the team, market expertise and resources in place to fundamentally change the online gaming industry.”
FirstMark Capital’s FirstSteps seed portfolio companies from the past year include:
· Ahalife: a globally curated commerce platform that provides a guided lifestyle shopping experience for women.
· AppFirst: next-generation application infrastructure performance management for the cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments.
· GoodCrush: college only, social-dating site and mobile app with features such as anonymous matching, missed connections, double-blind messaging, profiles and a random video chat service.
· NetComp: Web-based distributor of worker’s compensation insurance to small and medium sized businesses through independent agents.
· MarketFactory: a financial technology company that develops trading platforms for the OTC market.
· MyCityWay: one-stop, hyper-local application and application platform to discover, share, connect and experience a city.
· Packlate: last-minute deals on vacation rentals.
· Payoff: “real-life” game that makes the process of paying down debt and saving money fun.
· Pinterest: curate and share the things you love.
· Turiya: analytics and customer relationship management for online video games and communications.
Entrepreneurs with exceptional ideas and companies with emerging technologies looking for seed-stage investment can apply to the FirstSteps program online: http://www.firstmarkcap.com/firststeps.
About FirstMark Capital
Based in New York City, FirstMark Capital invests in ground-breaking companies that are creating new markets with innovative technology solutions or fundamentally changing existing markets by applying a fresh approach and new business model. A venture leader with nearly $2 billion in capital commitments, FirstMark’s team of investment and operations professionals have decades of real-world experience and leadership in core technology markets, making the firm uniquely qualified to offer industry insight, relationships and the operational expertise to build lasting businesses. Select historical investments include: Netgear, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTGR); First Advantage Corp. (Acquired by First American Corporation; NASDAQ: FAF); StubHub, Inc (Acquired by eBay, Inc.; NASDAQ:EBAY); Netegrity, Inc. (Acquired by CA Inc; NASDAQ: CA); Flarion, Inc. (Acquired by Qualcomm, Inc; NASDAQ: QCOM); OutlookSoft Inc. (Acquired by SAP AG; NASDAQ: SAP); Vallent (Acquired by IBM; NASDAQ: IBM) and Navic (Acquired by Microsoft; NASDAQ: MSFT). Current investments include: SecondMarket, Riot Games, Dovetail, Knewton, Conductor, Clickable and Lumos Labs. For more information, please visit http://www.firstmarkcap.com.