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Community-driven VCs: 6 investment firms creating communities for portfolio startups

One of the big trends in the VC world right now — investors aren’t committing just money anymore. When they invest, they try to build a community for their portfolio startups.


Big names like Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Techstars and First Round share the knowledge and network in a bid to speed up the growth of their startups and increase their success rate.


Here’s a list of six VCs that build communities for their portfolio startups and have invested in startups with Ukrainian founders. There are many more of them, of course, this is just my pick.


Read more: Traditional invest-and-exit VCs dying: Community-based funds take their place.


All Iron Ventures


Portfolio companies: 50+, including Preply.


All Iron Ventures has created a community of VC managers and LPs investing in Europe under their “fund of funds” program. Through this community, investors get access to the most prominent European VCs, developing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems.


Opportunities provided:

  • Relevant deal flow.

  • International investors base.

  • Assistance with opening up in new jurisdictions.

  • Access to the European tech community.

“We want to build long-term relationships with the managers in whom we invest and provide them with meaningful value. In short, become one of those LPs that we would like to have as our own investors.” — Diego Recondo, partner and co-managing director of All Iron Ventures.

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)


Portfolio companies: 1,315, including Reface and Allset.


While some VC funds are just getting on the path of building a community, Andreessen Horowitz has been doing this for more than 10 years.


Opportunities provided:

  • The firm has its own database of designers, coders, and executives, which a16z uses to help portfolio startups hire the best talents.


For its startups, Andreessen Horowitz hires the best advisors. One time it was Larry Summers, former U.S. treasury secretary.


A16z once also hired Adrian Fenty, former D.C. mayor, to advise the firm's portfolio companies on working with local, state, and federal governments.


Techstars


Companies in a portfolio: 3,300+, including InputSoft, Propertymate, Softcube, and Preply.


Techstars isn’t just a fund or an accelerator — it’s a whole ecosystem that is boosting the development of entrepreneurs around the world.


Opportunities provided:

  • A three-month acceleration program, during which startups are surrounded by mentors and exposed to an unrivaled network of corporate partners, investors, and Techstars alumni.

  • Educational events for entrepreneurs: Startup Weekend, Startup Week, and Founder Catalyst (a ten-week pre-accelerator program). Techstars provides entrepreneurs with the training, tools, mentorship, and network to cultivate a community of ambitious entrepreneurs.

  • It provides founders with educational online resources like Techstars’s Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Venture Deals online course, and Startup Digest.

"Startup Digest links local and global ecosystems for entrepreneurs. I like curating because through Techstars’s Startup Digest I can explore different events in my area and expand my network." — Lavey Ko, Taipei curator at Techstars’s StartupDigest

Startup Wise Guys


Portfolio companies: 300+, including Measy, AYE Technologies, CallPage, Finmap, and 30+ more startups with Ukrainian founders.


Startup Wise Guys is the most prolific accelerator fund in Europe that boasts an 80% survival rate of its startups. The accelerator offers a five-month mentor-driven program focusing on sales, scaling and fundraising.


The community consists of over 600+ company founders.


Opportunities provided:

  • Acceleration programs in XR, SaaS, cybersecurity, sustainability, and fintech.

  • Wise Guys Growth, a growth support program for pre-series A startups.

  • Pre-Accelerator, a training ground for early-stage startup founders.

  • Founders Club, an educational program for young entrepreneurs to equip them with the necessary tools for a startup launch.

  • Meaningful connections with mentors and founders.


Alchemy Ventures


Portfolio companies: 28+, including Ukrainian startup Unstoppable Domains.


Alchemy Ventures is developing the Web3 ecosystem, supporting promising startups in this industry.


Opportunities provided:

  • Direct access to Alchemy and its strategic partners (Andreessen Horowitz, Pantera Capital, Coatue, Addition, etc)

  • Exclusive founder dinners and events to build connections and knowledge

  • Access to the Alchemy Talent Network to help find the best recruits in the industry

  • Strategic mentoring to help with fundraising

  • Immediate access to Alchemy’s products and support teams


Y Combinator


Portfolio companies: 3 500+, including Awesomic.


One of the most iconic accelerators, Y Combinator can boast probably the most powerful community in the startup world, which consists of over 9,000 founders. It is created to help startups achieve their ambitions in a friendly environment with other founders and mentors.


Opportunities provided:

  • ​​Camp YC, a weekend of workshops and summer-camp-style activities.

  • Access to narrowly category-specific founder communities on WhatsApp and Bookface. There are groups for startups in hardware, biotech, edtech and so on.

  • Y Combinator organizes the Alumni Demo Day, for which prominent YC founders get an early look at new startups. This event has also become a de facto alumni reunion.

  • Discounts on or free-of-charge use of over 100 services.

“The power of YC’s network is incredible. You’re tapping into a network with experts in almost every category — from hardware to enterprise sales to biotech. Additionally, many alumni become the first customers (or even investors) of startups in the current batch.” — Kathrina Manalac, partner at Y Combinator.

Summary


Investors are now trying to build more communities around their portfolio companies. For them, they usually offer


  • offline educating activities like startup weekends, camps, acceleration programs, events, and conferences;

  • online libraries, toolkits, and courses;

  • specialized groups where representatives of a particular industry search for solutions to the current challenges;

  • discounts on services and tools for startups;

  • talent recruitment assistance;

  • expertise in marketing, finance, and fundraising.


This is just a short list. If you want me to include someone else, reach out to me at polina.fomenkova@flyerone.vc.


Follow Flyer One Ventures on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Cover photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

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