Why I Started Hayseed Ventures

September 15th, 2015 Posted by Business 1 comment

 

Six months ago, I wrote a rant about venture capital and the lack of fundable seed-stage companies in Arkansas.  In that post, I referenced my action plan to do my small part to help further the state’s startup ecosystem.

Today, I am happy to officially announce Hayseed Ventures.

Business in Arkansas is often looked down upon, and minimally ignored.  I chose the name Hayseed Ventures as a tongue-in-cheek reference to how many outsiders view our fine state.  

“Hayseed” is a derogatory term for a simple-minded southerner.  

But sometimes, being a Hayseed can actually work to a person’s advantage.

As a simple-minded Southerner, I ignored the people who said it was impossible to build a world-class ecommerce company in Arkansas.  Ignoring these naysayers allowed me to build Acumen Brands into an ecommerce powerhouse.  

We built 7 million Facebook fans, raised $100 million of venture capital, and made technology advances that were the envy of the marketing and fulfilment worlds… all from the middle of nowhere.

Likewise, as a Hayseed, I’m choosing to ignore the people who say that it’s a fool’s errand to build a technology-based startup hub in Arkansas.  Where they see challenges, I see opportunity.

Hayseed Ventures will help accomplish this mission through three main functions:

First, there’s a non-profit arm to educate and build community through mentorship and community building with events like our lecture series.  Standing on the shoulders of giants, we will give before we take.

Second, we are developing a funding arm to write checks to gap-stage companies.  This stage of capital is the single biggest hole in the Arkansas startup ecosystem.  There is no mechanism to fund companies who have progressed well past friends and family investments, but are not quite ready to raise a Series A round of capital.  

The funding arm is not yet fully funded.  I hope to have positive news in the next few months.

Third, and most importantly, sitting at the core of Hayseed is a startup studio focused on online customer acquisition. Through this studio, we hope to dramatically increase the number of “fundable” seed stage companies in our state.  

Unlike typical accelerators and incubators, we function like co-founders.  We are not afraid to get our hands dirty, and we won’t do a deal where we take a passive role.  Instead, we use our team of designers, engineers, and algorithmic customer acquisition specialists to move the ball forward.  We turn startups into revenue-generating businesses.

When we partner with a startup, we work through a laundry list of items to ready the company for their first round of outside investment capital.  In short, we prepare the company for funding by building out the first iteration of their product and driving their first revenues.  

Depending on the needs of the company, this laundry list can include many of the following:

  • Designing and building the technology stack.  
  • Constructing the business and revenue models.  
  • Developing the positioning and branding.
  • Designing and implementing a customer acquisition plan.
  • Writing a small check to bridge the company until they are fundable.
  • Pitching the company to investors and raising capital.

 

Hayseed drives returns by partnering with great founding teams whose startups are missing one or two critical elements.  We take those deficiencies (usually in customer acquisition and technology) and quickly turn those holes into their biggest strengths.

We piloted the program with three companies over the the past 6 months, and successfully readied all three for funding.  We successfully cultivated investment offers for each of them, driving an average increase in valuation exceeding 500%.

The process is ready to scale, and we hope to get 8 to 10 companies funded each year.  It won’t be easy, but we’re excited to take the ride!
Interested in learning more?  Contact our team and we’ll see if we can help. 

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“We piloted the program with three companies over the the past 6 months, and successfully readied all three for funding.  We successfully cultivated investment offers for each of them, driving an average increase in valuation exceeding 500%.”

 
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1 comment

Steven Carroll says:

Love what you and your team are building here in Arkansas. I will be coming down to your next event and look forward to meeting everyone.

Thanks,

Steve Carroll

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