June 30, 2014
Note: * Denotes Susa portfolio company
We are excited to officially announce the launch of Susa Ventures, a $25 million seed fund that invests in data-centric founders and businesses. We started Susa as four friends with the shared belief that despite the hype, the multitude of companies being formed, and the hilarious acronyms, the data revolution is underappreciated. We have barely scratched the surface of how a focus on leveraging data to make critical business decisions, automate processes, and inform new product creation will disrupt incumbents and create new industries.
Companies with a maniacal focus on data have become the breakout stars by amassing a moat of increasingly voluminous and complex assets. Examples range from companies like Twitter, which evolved from a communication tool to being the dominant keeper of the world’s most valuable real-time social data, to Waze, with crowdsourced maps, directions, traffic, and incident reports. Whether generated by machines or humans, companies like Climate Corp and Quora have shown that their ability to aggregate, analyze, and deliver actionable insights yield increased defensibility and significant competitive advantages.
In Health, there is immense value in combining existing data (claims, EMR, genomics, gov’t, trials) with new sources (sensors, mobile, social feeds) to enable better diagnostics, decision support, precision, and preventative medicine -- both at the individual and population level. Data-centric companies like Flatiron Health, Zephyr Health*, and SolveBiothat have set out from the start to create one or more connectable repositories of critical and relevant information (i.e. data on people, lifestyle, drugs, procedures, microbes) that will help us much more rapidly discover treatments, cure diseases, and extend life.
In Banking and Finance, sophisticated machine learning models applied to vast data sources (e.g. social, purchase histories, events, biometrics) are making it possible for young companies like LendUp*, Addepar, and Wealthfront to break down current monopolies like FICO, Fidelity, and First Data to reinvent everything from credit scoring and ID verification to fraud detection. Startups like Standard Treasury* are helping traditional banks move money and data more efficiently through APIs and digital gateways, while companies like Robinhood* are eliminating friction from equity investing.
In Education, there will be vast improvements in K-12, higher ed, and adult learning. Overall access to global coursework is improving rapidly via the efforts of 2U, Udemy, and Code Academy. Additionally, Panorama Educationand Clever are making all the data produced by parents, teachers, schools, and students more digestible and usable, enabling easier analytics for a variety of critical use cases. On the other end, Declara* is helping adults in the workforce perform their jobs more effectively by connecting them to the right content and people on a collaborative platform.
These are just a few illustrative examples across a handful of industries. Everything from legal to manufacturing to commerce will undergo a step function improvement by collecting, analyzing, and applying data in smart ways. We hope we can help many of these companies jumpstart their vision to become the market leaders in their respective fields. Check out our portfolio here, with a few stealth companies still to be launched.
While there is a proliferation of seed funds of late, Susa Ventures is different in a few critical ways: a) we’re the only $25M seed fund with four operating partners - giving us the ability and capacity to really work with founders in a meaningful way, b) all four partners have either been founders or operators, and bring complementary skills and expertise in areas ranging from product marketing to software engineering to customer acquisition, c) our team consists of both male and female partners, and d) we cover three major geographies - Bay Area, LA, NY. We feel these differences are our core strengths, enabling us to create a fund that is truly founder friendly in all the ways that matter.
Lastly, a big thank you to our incredible group of LPs for joining us in this journey -- we would not be able to do what we love without them.
If you share our enthusiasm for data, please contact us!