We’ve been away for a few weeks enjoying the season and prepping for the new year ahead! As we think ahead, we think of how to get the most our of our year. For the first Spotlight of 2017, we chatted with CIC member, Melissa Withers of Betaspring, one of our ImpactHub/CIC Boston clients that’s trying to help people get the most out of their business!
Tell us a little bit about your team.
Betaspring invests in fast growing, revenue-driven companies. We amplify our cash investment with expert support and a full stack of in-house growth services. With our non-equity model, companies return investment as a percentage of revenue over time. We invest on a rolling basis and in multiple cities at the same time. BUT…in 2016 we invested in more Boston-based companies than anywhere else! Betaspring has been investing since 2009 (90 companies, $65M follow-on funding raised, four exits).
How did you get into the type of work you do? Is there a cool backstory?
When Betaspring launched in 2009, we were the 8th accelerator in the world. In 2014 when we completed our fourth fund and took a step back to evaluate what we wanted to do moving forward, there were more than 1000 organizations in the world called accelerators. Funny thing though, is that almost all of them were using the same equity-based model. Juxtapose this to the economic reality of our country: only 7% of the companies on the INC 5000 list have raised venture. 7%! Most on the list are built on revenue (and some scrappy small rounds of get started money). Yet all of our support platforms for early stage companies were oriented toward producing venture exits. So, in 2015 we reconfigured our model to serve companies where revenue is the primary driver of growth and to work beyond the constraints of equity-only financing. That decision aligned with our personal interest in those kinds of companies and our expertise building real-ass businesses, while allowing us to bring a new funding model to the market that could help an underserved group of killer companies.
What have been your biggest learning opportunities and milestones? What’s your next one?
We are very pleased with the first round of investments. I guess the biggest observation we’ve had is around how dominant the venture narrative is. There’s nothing wrong with raising venture, but for good reason it’s a relatively rare occurrence. Yet at startup bootcamps and meetups all across the country, we focus almost all of the content on telling founders the story of how to raise money. We need to focus more on teaching them how to build big, profitable businesses rather only focus on how to build a deck.
What kind of cool connections/experiences have you made during your time at CIC/ImpactHub?
It’s the perfect place. Everyone is there or near there. And the vibe is awesome.
Lastly, tell us a cool fact about yourselves!
I went to a Polish elementary school. And I can do a mean Polka.