VATOR.TV - June 6 - The fund is part of investment firm SDVentures. Bill Alena is a Digital Media and Dating specialist with ~20 years of experience. For 11 years he served as The Meet Group's CRO where he joined pre-revenue and helped grow the business to ~$200M annually.
Q: What is your investment philosophy or methodology?
Bill Alena: First off, we're part of SDVentures, which is a larger company that really has two groups. We're the corporate VC arm, which is focused solely on dating. Dmitri Volkov, the founder of SDVentures, as well as Dating Group, started this fund to help fund people and also to spur the industry. He wanted to give the industry more energy and more competitors. It's a $50M fund, and we're doing seed, Series As and and, potentially, Bs.
Q: What's the opportunity you see in the dating space right now? Why is it exciting?
A: Video is hot now. Everything that's been coming up slowly is going to be super hyper sped.
Q: How many investments do you plan to make in a year going forward?
A: I don't want to put any numbers on it right now.
Q: How much do you want to invest each time?
A: Maximum of ~$5M.
Q: What kind of traction does a startup need for you to invest? Do you have any specific numbers?
A: We're going to need to see a product. I doubt that we're going to invest in anything that hasn't been built yet. We need to like the concept and, most importantly, the founders. There's no specific metric line that we'll be requiring when looking at somebody.
Q: You mentioned the team being the most important thing. What do you look for in a team you want to invest in?
A: First, we love to see some past success. Have they had any other business? Have they had any exits? What did that look like? Frankly, if they failed, that's okay too, if you understand why and how. Oftentimes, that can be a good thing. Personally, I look for folks that are sharp and smart, but, most importantly, I like to see that they have commitment to the business.
Q: There are many venture funds out there today, how do you differentiate yourself to limited partners?
A: We are really good at dating.
Q: Venture is a two-way street, where investors also have to pitch themselves. How do you differentiate your fund to entrepreneurs?
A: We have a board of directors of C-level and former senior level executives that were focused on this particular ecosystem. So, there's access to people that we're going to bring to you.
Q: What are some of the investments you've made that you're super excited about?
A: S'More, a dating app that's focused on giving more control back. One of the things I like about it is that it has blurry images and users have to get to know somebody before they can see their photos. The founder is great, he's been in dating for 10 years and he's really high energy.