Not sure if that’s really a good way of naming them but I think it’s pretty good; lightweight, rapid iterations, flexible and they invest in ideas/products that are often built on agile concepts, platforms and frameworks.
There are more and more of those “Agile VCs”, including 2-3 who’ve launched recently so I thought I’d do a quick run down.
The first, started up by Paul Graham among others, is Y Combinator. They hold rounds of submissions from people with ideas for web apps and services, chose a few and give them $5000 per founder, a place to work and surround them with experts. They create an environment they believe will help those new startup thrive and make it to market. In exchange they take a stake in the company of around 6%.
Techstars is pretty much the same kind of system but based in Colorado. They give $15k per company so that can end up being a bit more or quite a bit less than Y Combinator. Same concept, a bit of money, a lot of support for a fixed 5% stake.
Lame name, YEurope is not related to Y Combinator but they evidently based their name and even some site details on it, not very imaginative. 5000€ per founder plus a flat 5000€ for the project so a decent bit more than the american ones. It’s in Vienna, not sure how expensive the town is though. YEurope will be taking a 2-10% stake. It’s a bit strange that there isn’t more info about the founders though, since support is a main component of all those projects, you’d assume they’d push the founders.
Seedcamp [Added 2007-07-06]
There is now also Seedcamp in London.
Seedcamp is where Europe’s top young founders can come together in one place… From securing funding to developing the right network, young entrepreneurs in Europe face challenges in building globally competitive technology businesses. Through the provision of seed capital and a world class network of mentors, we want to provide a catalyst for Europe’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
Last one I’ve heard of is HitForge and they’re doing things differently. Actually, they’re probably closer in philosophy to Ev Williams’ Obvious, kind of a coop of engineers incubating ideas and projects rather than companies (although the goal of course is to spin off those projects).
We are owners of our companies, share common tools and code, and have enough money to fund dozens of attempts to find the next big hit. We don’t get locked into failed projects, we replace pointy-haired MBAs with modern web marketing, and we share stock so that if one of us wins, everybody wins.
Web businesses are unpredictable despite the best of intentions and execution. We defy the traditional venture model by giving pooled stock across many of our projects, and by killing projects and starting fresh rather than chasing dead ends.
We work independently in very small teams until we are convinced that the project is ready for more people or investment. We share common software, hardware, and operational resources, and leave the choice of development language and platform to the teams.
There’s no info whatsoever on the members though, except for a bit of good natured boasting. Hopefully if you “make the cut” they tell you a lot more before asking you to jump in.
I know some people are trying to get the VC/angel crowd moving in Montréal, I wonder if something like the combinators could work here? For all of Canada actually, since the projects mentioned are in specific places but they take submissions from everywhere.
As for HitForge, it reminds me of what Hugh and I have talked about before.
what I’ve always wanted was to get a group of developers (idea, code, design) together with some seed money and just start prototyping small projects, and then having another group take them the next phase.
The Forge seems to have a model that might make it work although I’d like to have more details on the split of money and shares under that structure.
I have a few ideas along those lines myself, if people with money want to talk about it ;).