Hummer Winblad Venture Partners invests in start up software companies. We believe that innovative software technology is a core driver of competitive advantage within companies. Software is capable of changing the economics of entire industries. Our goal as venture investors is provide you with the capital and board experience to help you achieve your goal.
We look for entrepreneurs who have a passion for their business, a large and growing market opportunity, a hard to duplicate technology, and a business model that works for both the target customers and the enterprise.
The founders are the most important ingredient in building a successful company. Passion, integrity, commitment, vision, and most of all, an unyielding desire to succeed are just some of the attributes we look for. There is no single description of a successful entrepreneur. They come from all walks of life and all nationalities, races, ages, yet they share one important ingredient — a willingness to put it all on the line and never quit. This is what we look for.
We look for a large, underserved, yet growing and addressable market. We cannot stress enough the importance of a deep understanding of how your target market works, the underlying economics of the market, what drives it, how easily you can identify the decision makers within your target market, and most of all, the power of your value proposition to break into the target market.
Successful companies are built by strong and cohesive teams with the vision to define an operating strategy that will lead to a profitable, high growth enterprise. Teams must be dedicated fully to the enterprise, realistic in their assessments, and willing to learn from the successes and failures of market leaders. We recognize that strong teams are not built overnight and we are willing to help teams attract excellence into the enterprise.
It should be hard to duplicate, sustainable, and well architected for the target market. “Me too,” or “nice to have” solutions may gain traction temporarily but will not stand the test of time that is a prerequisite for venture investing. The founders should have a firm grasp of technology, how it fits into the technology eco system of both partners and competitors, and how it is differentiable and sustainable.
Whether you are emailing us your executive summary or meeting with us, the following tips will help convey your investment opportunity:
- Business plans are not graded by weight — keep them simple and to the point.
- Describe the opportunity — be specific about the unmet market need, and how you fill it. Is there an open upside potential to your venture?
- Define your market clearly and definitively — Tell us who your customers are, what their problems are, how you are going to reach them…efficiently…, and how you plan to solve those problems. We’ve seen enough “upper right hand quadrant” PowerPoint stacks.
- What is your secret sauce? What do you have that is so compelling that customers will pay for your solution?
- How much investment is needed? Successful software companies are capital efficient. Remember, customers are better sources of cash than the venture industry.
- Realism — have a thoughtful operating plan. Research operation margins of existing competitors. Are yours in line?
- Honesty, integrity, and a total commitment to the success of the venture.