Work-Bench will continue to support early stage startups with a new $ 100 million fund – TechCrunch

Despite the pandemic, New York City remains the center of commerce and business, and a strong community of startups has developed there over the past decade. Work bench, the NYC venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage entrepreneurial seed investments, announced its $ 100 million Fund 3 this morning.

The company started in 2013 when most of the investment was still concentrated in Silicon Valley, but founders Jonathan Lehr and Jessica Linn believed there was room for a new firm in New York to focus on writing the first checks for startups. . The founding team knew about information technology and believed that with the concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the city, they could build something that would take advantage of that proximity.

The bet has paid off in a big way with investments in successful startups such as Cockroach laboratories, Catalyst, Keyboard Y Fire hydrant (all companies TechCrunch has covered). Great departures have included UIPath, that went public last year after raising $ 2 billion, and today it has a market capitalization of $ 34 billion and CoreOs, that Red Hat acquired for a more modest $ 250 million in 2018.

Writing in a blog post In announcing the new fund, Lehr and Linn said their initial idea has grown far beyond what they might have expected in those early days. “By utilizing our deep corporate network of Fortune 500 clients here in New York, we can achieve conviction from companies early on and before they have the metrics that other venture capital firms require. It is also through this network of clients that we are able to secure the logos of the first critical clients and through our extensive community events and playbooks that we can enable the sharing of critical knowledge, ”the two founders wrote.

Lehr says that even with the pandemic, which could allow it to expand its reach, the company is mostly sticking to its New York focus with most investments based there. “This may sound ironic, but as businesses went virtual, the pandemic reinforced our focus on New York City. Our city was the first and hardest hit by COVID, but despite everything, venture capital financing activity for local business start-ups actually increased substantially during the pandemic. Along with that, with so many Fortune 500 companies in New York going through accelerated digital transformation during the pandemic, there was a lot of work to be done and numerous opportunities for clients right here in our own backyard, ”Lehr said.

He says that the $ 47 million portfolio of Fund 2 It was implemented by 70% of New York-based startups, and predicts that Fund 3 will have a similar composition, if not a little more concentrated in New York.

However, the company not only decided to write the first checks, but tried to build the community by offering a workspace in its offices where early-stage companies could feed off each other (at least until the pandemic hit). The founders have also hosted events where multiple speakers came to their offices, hosting hundreds of events from inception, while going virtual when the in-person meetings were shut down by the pandemic.

Lehr says that as the company rolls out the money from Fund 3, it is looking for ways to invest in a more diverse group of founders. “Right now, 20% of our portfolio is made up of female founders. While we are proud of that number within a business context, we believe there is a lot of room for improvement. As we have learned, the flow of agreements does not become diverse on its own; it needs to be diverse, which is why we place great emphasis on identifying and amplifying the voices of diverse women and founders within our own Investment Committee meetings and in the rest of the venture capital and technology business community. ” .

The company will continue to look for startups, particularly in New York City, as it appears to distribute these new funds.

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