More and more VCs are now actively helping their portfolio startups with fundraising, hiring, and marketing — they aren’t simply waiting for exits after making their investments.
This approach is usually called the smart money approach: VCs go beyond the traditional check writing and become trusted advisors and active contributors to the success of their portfolio startups.
First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz pioneered this approach about two decades ago and successfully developed departments within their teams that are called Platforms. Depending on the VC and what it wants to achieve, this department could also be called Community, Portfolio Management, Talent, Portfolio Support, and so on.
Platforms typically consist of PR managers, content makers, recruiters, and marketers who help portfolio startups with their expertise.
At F1V, the Platform team is larger than the Investment team. We have PR, recruiting, operations, and marketing departments with team leads in each. This tailored support is often the reason for founders to choose F1V as their investor.
In this short story, we talk about a few global funds that help their portfolio companies with marketing. We also explain how F1V supports its own portfolio in this area.
Global VCs that go beyond funding
At F1V, marketing support is a crucial aspect of our assistance since our startups are primarily in the early stage and often require guidance during their expansion. Among VCs, this type of assistance varies based on the project stage and the specific needs of the startups.
Both Breega and Flybridge have full-time marketing specialists on board; some funds like Fuel Capital and Vendep Capital have marketers who work on both the fund’s brand and marketing support to its portfolio companies. The fund A Project has its own agency with specialists of various profiles, including marketing.
Certain VCs provide help by tapping into their network and not keeping, say, marketers in house. Most often they have just one staffer responsible for all the areas, he/she talks to portfolio startups and, after understanding what they need, connects them with outside advisors. It can be a top marketing specialist who steps in and helps achieve concrete goals. Funds like The Engine, Chapter One VC, and Headline operate in this manner.
Seedstars conducts an internal growth course and takes from participants a portion of the investments in return.
Ways F1V can help startups with marketing
With over 60 companies in our portfolio, our marketing crew keeps close connections with each company and helps with marketing launches, measuring performance, and hiring marketers.
We offer both hands-on and hands-off support, depending on each startup’s needs and resources.
Marketing launch. Our hands-on approach involves creating a marketing strategy and testing new channels or funnels for startups, helping their in-house team. If they don’t have enough resources, we run short-term marketing campaigns and then help them hire a permanent marketing specialist.
Channel performance audits. We assess the media channels of a startup, including how their campaigns perform on Facebook and Google; it usually takes us a week to provide an audit presentation and come up with recommendations. We stay in sync with startups as they implement our suggestions.
Performance mentoring. Through weekly check-ins, we review all marketing campaigns, suggest improvements, and discuss future tests. However, the startup team remains fully in charge of implementing the changes.
Knowledge hub. Our internal platform serves as a consolidated knowledge base, offering guides, checklists, memos, and FAQs for startup teams to strengthen their own marketing expertise. We also host lectures, inviting external and internal experts to share insights.
Expert consultations. We offer prompt support through discussions or written responses to specific questions. To help answer some of the toughest questions, we tap into our network of advisors. They provide guidance to startups on complex topics outside our scope. Currently, we are testing their involvement in B2B, marketing, and product analytics.
Vetted freelancer network. We regularly grow our database of freelancers in fields like SEO, design, acquisition, and copywriting. These specialists have already been assessed for task quality and are available for our projects on an hourly or part-time basis.
Marketing community. We have a networking platform for marketers from our portfolio companies to connect and share experiences with each other.