Working successfully with founders is the foundation of our success. As founders ourselves, we understand both the personal and professional challenges of taking enormous risk. Starting a company is the beginning of a long term partnership. We view it as much more than just an investment. We encourage founders to speak with the management teams and founders of our portfolio companies to hear directly from those that have worked closely with us. We believe that founders should do as much diligence on Storm as we do on the company.
We work with founders at the very earliest point. We have been the very first (and sometimes the only) investor in startups, when we believe in the person and/or the idea.
We invest in only the person, even without an idea, through our EIR program. To make these investments, we obviously must believe in the person. But, we are also confident that we can help develop the right idea together.
Some of our EIR funded companies include:
We also invest in ideas. We understand the power of a great idea, since major disruptions can start from a mere idea. Startups can turn these ideas into reality. We have been the first investor in startups with only a couple of founders and an idea. In those cases, we became true believers in their ideas.
Some of our early idea companies include:
Developing The Idea Together
Within sectors where we have significant experience (eg mobile), we invest in ideas even without founders through our incubation program. In contrast to other incubation programs, our incubation program focuses on quality rather than quantity. We ask ourselves this question: Is the idea so compelling that we would quit our job to be a cofounder? If not, we will not incubate the idea. If yes, we will incubate the idea and recruit the founders. We then look for founders who are more passionate about the idea than us, who are smarter than us, and who have the ability to execute and take the idea to the next level and beyond. One of the cofounders of MobileIron described our incubation process at our annual LP meeting Storm Incubation.
As a result of our success, even large companies ask our help in refining and implementing their ideas.
Leveraging our mobile experience, we hired the founders for:
Despite our success working with founders at the very earliest stage, we value and appreciate the opportunity to work with teams after the company has demonstrated some early success in identifying a market and opportunity. After all, this is significantly easier. We think we make great partners for founders at this stage as well, since we not only understand how to build successful businesses and support founders but also have a deep appreciation of early success based on our early stage focus including our EIR and incubation programs. There are usually several reasons why companies have early success, such as having smart existing investors. We are happy to invest after those investors (whether angels or other venture investors) and work with the founders and prior investors to build on their success.
Some of our early success companies include:
Based on our experience as founders and working with numerous startups, we strive to help the founders and the company become successful – while minimizing the burden of having an investor. We understand that every hour responding to an investor request is one less hour acquiring a new customer, hiring a new executive or spending time with your family.
We measure our success by the success of the founders. We believe that successful founders drive outsized returns for our limited partners.