By Yuval Shachar, Executive Chairman, Team8
When Team8 was started six years ago, our model was designed to fill a real gap in the way startups are built.
Here’s what we saw – technology companies began to take center stage in the recent decades as global innovators and GDP contributors. Capital has increasingly been repurposed for this new environment, trying to target the new groundbreaking companies that are destined to become the household names of the future. As a result, capital has to a large degree become commoditized, and today’s great founding teams have little difficulty getting funded.
At the same time, technological progress has induced ever shorter innovation cycles, forcing startups to get everything right early on. Startups increasingly need to get the product-market fit right the first time and rapidly scale into a market leadership position, while navigating an increasingly competitive global ecosystem targeting the same global customer base.
Limited access early in the life of a company to end-customers, go-to-market partners, deep technology research or other specialized talent continues to pose challenges that capital alone can’t solve. Building and bringing a great company to a real market success remains a hard, elusive, and volatile process. As we continuously engaged with leading enterprises, we realized they are flooded with new product initiatives from startups that often offer small marginal value, or worse, may be obsolete before they hit the market. These product initiatives were disconnected from the higher-level enterprise plans and ambitions. Great ideas died on the vine all the time. We wanted to create the right dialog to help change the odds.
We created Team8 – a company that methodically helps build companies, trying to give its portfolio startups an unfair competitive advantage through an extended support team and a seat at the table for an open and intimate dialog with many key global enterprises and potential future customers.
We built a new model for the industry: a 40-person (and growing) inhouse team of technologists, researchers, recruiters, marketers, and sales accelerators – all leading experts in their fields – who directly work with the companies we support, to help entrepreneurs realize their objectives. We are founders ourselves. We match our methodology with commitment and our team is fully engaged to provide support through the highs and lows of bringing a company to life.
We also created a unique dedicated community we call our Village – over 100 C-level executives from leading enterprises who give us a privileged insider’s view into what the business world will look like in three, five, seven years. Our Village executives help shape future technology and products that solve real problems for their business now as well as give us a view into future requirements. In order to get other important perspectives, we added prominent academics to the conversation whose ground-breaking thinking and research help our entrepreneurs drive unique innovation in what they do.
While we continue to engage and build companies from the ground up as a main tenant of the Team8 group, we are now also ready to take our model one step further. The recent launch of our new venture capital vehicle, Team8 Capital, will extend our company-building approach to select startups with amazing leadership teams and a great vision, that are in their early and formative stages i.e. seed, A and B rounds, making them a part of the Team8 family of companies.
Beyond just capital, Team8 Capital will provide its portfolio startup leaders with opportunities to consult our Village on topics ranging from what’s top of mind for them on a global scale to more detailed conversations about their specific domains and product strategies. The Village voice can help them make sure they are building the right product with the right roadmap for the future. In parallel, where relevant, our inhouse team can help them craft the right marketing message, create opportunities with prospects, and hire the right talent.
We expect to be very selective in terms of the teams we choose to back and the companies we support. In the investment process we will leverage our broad market access to get a deep understanding of the customers’ perspective as it relates to the product requirements and longer term vision. With our deep inhouse technology and research capabilities we hope to validate and partner with strong technology leaders building the right foundations for their customers’ needs. And just as important, we will look to invest and partner with teams whose passion and dedication matches our own in their quest to build out a great vision. We understand the challenges as we, too, are founders of our own new model; hence, we hope those great teams will likewise choose to partner with us.
To that end, we have aligned an amazing team to build out and manage Team8 Capital. My colleague Sarit Firon has extensive expertise in leading high-tech startups and venture capital funding. She will be leading Team8 Capital to support and accelerate its portfolio companies. She shares our philosophy of company-building and her hands-on operating experience makes her an incredible partner to both investors and our entrepreneurs.
In managing Team Capital, Sarit will be joined by Liran Grinberg, one of Team8’s co-founders, who has gained first-hand experience across all the companies Team8 has founded and built to date. Liran has also been the architect of the Team8 Village, overseeing Team8’s go-to-market teams and resources over the years. As such, Liran will also be the perfect bridge between Team8 Capital and all the other Team8 resources.
For now, Team8 Capital will fund cybersecurity, data science, and AI-focused companies across market segments Team8 chooses to be actively engaged in. These are the domains we have been focusing on and have built expertise in for the last few years. They are becoming increasingly more critical to enterprises, especially these days as enterprises are working to navigate their way through the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.
As I look to the future, I am encouraged by what I sense is the beginning of a powerful network effect. The more great companies we can put forward, the more our Village will attract additional executives and luminaries from the world’s largest enterprises, and the more executives and luminaries we have in our Village, the more we can finetune and help build great companies. Whether we start these companies ourselves by partnering with the Village and with great founding teams, or whether we intersect great companies our Village believes would be instrumental for their future and invest in them – the more we build and invest, the more relevant we become and the more our perspectives grow.
We started this journey feeling that with the commoditization of capital great founding teams will be 100% fundable, yet some of them will still miss the mark in this global market race. We cannot guarantee success of course; it is determined by luck and so many other factors. We do believe, however, that our access to customers and thought leadership opportunities, coupled with a wealth of experience and domain expertise in enterprise technologies, data, AI and cybersecurity and of course access to top talent, will provide great founding teams with an unfair competitive advantage to enhance their own journey in an environment that has been getting decidedly more difficult.