We serve our portfolio companies by providing strategic advice to guide Founders during their companies’ earliest stages and accelerate entry into the next phase of growth. We offer access to capital, customers, and operational expertise, and actively support our portfolio companies when they raise additional capital.
Our mission is to meaningfully collaborate in the creation and growth of hundreds of companies over the next four decades. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we consider it a privilege to work alongside founders and we are continually inspired by the possibilities that budding ventures create.
Practice “integrity investing”
We live by the original Golden Rule. We consider it a privilege to work alongside entrepreneurs. We are kind, sincere, and respectful to others and honest, and we expect if from others in the Bee Partners community. We'll offer straight-up advice, even when it runs counter to our own self-interest. And we expect the same in return!
Invest in building companies
We are passionate about building companies and we avoid following the herd. We're the earliest stage investors you'll ever meet, investing our capital and services alongside other committed investors, and will absolutely invest pre-product and pre-revenue. In all cases, we'd rather focus on foundational venture creation and strategic defensibility over hype.
Balance intuition with data
We embrace the humanity of venture creation and all the distortions and biases that come with human nature. While we will pore over data, we will never replace our intuition with an algorithm.
Time is worth more than money
We aim to be swift and not waste a Founder's time. Post investment, we effort to boost their clock speed, sometimes by establishing guardrails, other times by assembling outside resources and domain experts, and still other times by doing the groundwork ourselves. Sometimes getting out of the way is time best spent.
We partner with Founders who seek success, fortune, and glory for reasons far beyond their own pocketbooks. We partner with people who respect the contributions of others and lead their teams as servants to accomplish a goal greater than they could ever imagine possible. It's this joy for entrepreneurship that drives the team here at Bee Partners and we consider it a privilege to work alongside Founders.
What we provide
Most importantly, we build long-term relationships with Founders and welcome them into our passionate community of entrepreneurs, investors, and advisors. Our small portfolio size ensures we provide individual attention that results in high quality connections to capital, talent, and customers. We stick with Founders through thick and thin, and we like to be their first call during the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey.
At Bee Partners we typically invest $200-400k in the seed stage, and continue to support companies with capital as they grow. Occasionally, we’ll invest a smaller amount in what we call the “genesis stage,” also known as a Friends & Family round. We’re frequently the first outside capital in a pre-seed company. In all situations, we prefer to initiate a relationship with Founders very early in the process, ideally before a fundraising effort even begins, so be sure to reach out well in advance of your financing.
Each member of the Bee team believes that collaboration results in outcomes far greater than isolated individual effort. We work hands-on with Founders, encouraging them to create a culture open to assistance and joint effort. We talk with Founders —a lot—to learn both what is working and what isn't, so we can collaborate with them to remove obstacles to progress.
What we invest in
Our strategy for investments
We invest in passionate Founders who are deeply serious about building a company to solve longterm problems. We prefer Founders who have market insights as a result of industry experience though prior Founder experience is not necessary.
When we invest, teams are typically experimenting with an initial product, discovering whether their messaging fits their intended customer, and enjoying very early revenue. We’ve invested before, during and after teams reach product/market fit.
We tend to invest along thematic lines, as this approach allows us to identify companies that address underlying market needs without the limitations of traditional sector definitions. Read more about our current themes on our blog.
Bee Partners is based in San Francisco and invests in companies across the United States.
Is my company “too far along” to be considered by Bee?
If you’ve raised over $2.5 million or are generating more than ~$40,000 of monthly revenue, then you’re probably too far along for us. To put another way, our check sizes are not high enough for you to justify taking a meeting with us even though we’re sure we’d learn a ton from collaborating over coffee!
Is my company “too early” to be considered by Bee?
We never pass because a company is ‘too early’, and so it’s never too early to talk with us.
How we make decisions
Why do you focus on B2B?
They have revenue models that work. Software really is eating the world, and in B2B it’s easier to find product/market fit. With our B2B strategies, we can invest and focus on ~eight companies per year. If we focused on consumer, we would need to significantly increase that number, and we’d then deviate from our own strategy.
Yeah, but I see some consumer startups in your portfolio...
Yep. The Founders of those companies proved to us that their underlying business model and/or technology was one that we could underwrite, as predominantly enterprise SaaS investors. Rules are made to be broken, although we seldom deviate.
Do you fund companies that are competitive with each other?
No. Were we to consider such an investment, we grant the incumbent Founder with veto rights to our check writing. We have, however, had companies pivot into the same sector, thereby becoming competitive post-investment. In those cases, we will continue to evaluate each on their individual merits prior to making follow-on investments, and we never, ever share proprietary information across companies, regardless of whether they are in our portfolio or not.
I’m a single founder. Can I get funding, or does Bee only fund teams?
In total, we’ve funded 13 single Founders since inception. However, across our newest portfolio, which stretches back to January 2014, we’ve only invested in four single founders. It’s a high bar, as you need to demonstrate an ability to both recruit a kick ass team as well as to lead them to execute your vision. All else equal, we’d typically recommend that you find a co-Founder who complements your skillset and who you’d be proud to be your partner.
What other esoteric restrictions do you have?
The one that gets in the way a lot is a dogmatic restriction to Founder family teams. We decided long ago to minimize any conflict amongst the Founders and Bee Partners. In spite of many examples of successful outcomes with husband-wife, brother-sister, etc., we’re steadfast in this restriction. We won’t even take a meeting.
How much funding do Bee companies receive?
On average, our median initial check size into a company is just over $300,000, and, on average, we’ve invested over $450,000 into each of our companies. But averages are downright terrible to quantify what Founders should/could expect from Bee Partners. Most important, you should look at how many of our companies have gone on to raise successive rounds of capital.
Through June 2016, we had 33 unrealized companies, seven of which were less than one year old. Of the remaining 26, three are resolutely profitable (yep, only took Seed money) and therefore are precluded from this analysis. That leaves 23 total companies. Of the 23, over 50% have successfully raised a Series A or later round of capital. In spite of the tougher fundraising environment, we actually expect this ratio to improve to nearly 75% in the next year.
Some of Bee’s follow-on investors are some of the biggest names out there: Canaan, Crosslink, FirstRound, Floodgate, Formation8, Foundation, Javelin, Khosla, Kleiner, Sierra, TechStars, Trinity & more. We work very, very hard to get our companies funded beyond the Seed by the right investor. These facts don’t always get covered clearly in the press, and we think it objectively speaks volumes about the quality of our portfolio.
Do you typically take a board seat at the level of your average initial investment?
Again, our average check size is about $400,000, and we reserve another ~4x that amount per company. Regarding board seats: Many of our companies request that we participate in some board capacity. For some, we accept that formal role and commit to it, as any other investor would expect from a lead investor. For others, we provide the same level of service as those where we formally take a board seat, but without doing so. It really depends upon the situation. Regardless of whether we invest, we always recommend that Founders create a formal board and rigorously adhere to a periodic schedule of meetings.
What it’s like to partner with us
What else besides capital does Bee provide?
Hopefully, you’ll get a sense for our work by checking out other sections. Key takeaway: If you’re on the fundraising trail and all you get is capital from your investors, then it’s a failed fundraising, at the preSeed & Seed.
How does my relationship with Bee translate to my next round of funding?
Well, based on the information above, it should matter, and we strive for it to matter, a lot. Through our partnership, we support your collection of key metrics, we help to shape the story, and we identify which of our relationships will fit best with you.
How does Bee partner with entrepreneurs?
Pre-investment, we’re deeply committed and as excited as the Founders are about their opportunity to impact the world. Our intention is to offer Founders value from the very first meeting. Post-investment, we become pragmatic realists as to the challenges of entrepreneurship. Company building comes from long, hard hours with very little certainty, and so we aim to support Founders along this arduous road.
That support comes in the form of content (we regularly supply exclusive insights to our Founders on a variety of topics), customers (we repeatedly seek prospects to convert into new customers), capital (many of our ongoing relationships are with VCs who invest at later stages than we do, and we aim to deliver our Founders great leads into those firms best suited to their company), and collaboration (we talk with our Founders, a lot, to find out what doesn’t work so we can potentially resolve those fast). Our partnership model is derived from the very name of the firm, Bee Partners, and we embrace this chosen path with our Founders.
Why is the firm named Bee Partners?
Our partnership model is derived from the very name of the firm, and we embrace this chosen path with our founders. We know of no other VC firm that uses the word ‘partner’ in their identity without the word capital preceding it. Michael specifically avoided the word ‘capital’ when founding the firm. At the same time, he searched for an identity to best describe the firm he aimed to build, a firm that would strive to “be partners” with its founders. Bee Partners stuck from the very beginning, and our commitment to this ideal has never been stronger than it is today.
What are the most notable Bee companies?
Appealing to a general audience, our most notable company is Indiegogo. Synonymous with crowd funding, Indiegogo has developed a national consumer brand that invokes possibility and creativity in the minds of its audience. We’ve always considered it a great honor to be investing in a company so passionate about disrupting how we finance projects. We have a handful of esoteric investments that are extremely well known amongst their smaller circles of customers & partners. One of those, Skycatch, has deployed a data capture and analysis application to thousands of industrial sites where drones are used for survey.
In total, how many companies have you invested in?
We have invested in 50 companies to-date, and have been the first investor in over half of those. We are proud of our commitment to the pre-seed phase, a most challenging time for Founders, and one that we embrace.