Distinguishing relationship and partnership between VCs and startups

By Dennis Clemente

If you can find a “relationship machine” in your company, you’re all set. Thatcher Bell, managing partner at Gotham Ventures, was special guest in the Friday summer series of The Hatchery last September 13 and he was talking about the importance of relationships, especially partnerships.

“When it comes to partnerships, the general rule of thumb is for you to have some value to exchange and develop it as early as you can,” he said whose work at Gotham Ventures involves helping early startups get seed stage funding.

Bell said Gotham Ventures focuses only on funding New York City startups who know how big the market opportunity is and how much money is to be made. He added that the team composition of the startup team and their backgrounds is important.

Startups they have worked for include “indigenous” sectors such as: digital and social media, e-commerce, advertising, financial technology, enterprise software and security. Other areas it is watching closely are health and wellness and education.
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In terms of funding, Bell said you have a choice of Seed A ($20 million) or Series A ($2 to S7 million) funding. Gotham Ventures has reportedly we led investments in Seed and Series A financing, and participated and/or led follow-on rounds, between VCs and startups.

Still, Gotham Ventures almost always invest alongside other top investors. By working closely with entrepreneurs to select syndicate partners, it ensures that the Boards of portfolio companies are compatible, capable of continued financial support when needed, and strategically and tactically helpful.

Asked how he sees the VC model in New York growing. Bell said seed stage investing has been growing since 2009, because of so many investment opportunities out there, especially with the increasing number of amazingly cheap minimum value products.
Depending on products, there’s a new startup coming out weekly

Bell went poetic when said there is a case to be made for letting thousands of flowers bloom and watering all of them. And when it comes to marketing your startup, he gave one piece of cautionary advice: Yes, you can market it somewhere else first if you want to, but realize the danger of not being able to go back to your marketplace.

Bell has spent more than a dozen years in the startup community as a venture capitalist and operator. He focuses on investments in software companies in both consumer and business markets across a variety of industries.

Gotham Ventures is part of the DFJ Network, the largest venture capital network in the world. Their portfolio includes companies such as Yipit, Sailthru, Totsy, Altruik, SinglePlatform, and IZEA. Thatcher works closely with Gotham portfolio companies Sailthru, ADstruc, LendKey, EXPO, Verterra, and Widetronix. He also led the firm’s successful investment in SinglePlatform, which was acquired by Constant Contact (NASDAQ: CTCT).

In addition, Thatcher serves on the Board of Directors of the NY Tech MeetUp, co-chairs the New York chapter of Wharton Private Equity Partners, co-founded Penn Digital, and is a strong supporter of Cornell Tech, Cornell’s new graduate school of applied technology in New York City.

Prior to joining Gotham Ventures, Thatcher Bell was a Senior Analyst at North Hill Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of Capital One Financial, where he was a deal team member for the firm’s investments in DealerTrack (NASDAQ: TRAK), Higher One (NYSE: ONE), and Compete (acquired by TNS).

Prior to North Hill, Thatcher held business and corporate development roles at enterprise software vendor OpenPages (acquired by IBM) and SharkTank, an online marketplace connecting lawyers and potential clients. Thatcher began his career as a consultant at Ernst & Young (now Cap Gemini Ernst & Young).

The meetup was hosted again by Hatchery’s Yao Hui Huang.

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