HXTV| VC Ask Me Anything Virtual Event ft Companyon Ventures
About this Event
YOUTUBE LIVESTREAM LINK: to be added
FACEBOOK LIVESTREAM LINK: to be added
HXTV| VC Ask Me Anything Virtual Event featuring Companyon Ventures
About HXTV Livestreams: These livestreams, which will include audience Q&A, will tackle the big questions on everyone’s mind, like how founders should adjust in the face of the pandemic and what fund-raising will look like once the pandemic loosens its grip.
FOUNDERS! APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN FOR 1:1 PITCH SESSIONS
Apply to pitch 1:1 to Companyon Ventures! Apply HERE!
11:55am| Livestream available
12:00pm | Introduction to the speakers
12:05pm | Info session on Companyon Ventures
12:15am | Question and Answers
1:00pm | Adjourn
MORE ON COMPANYON VENTURES
Companyon Ventures funds B2B software startups into their expansion-stage by injecting decades of startup and VC experience through operational hands-on investing. The Boston-based firm leads post-seed, pre-expansion rounds in capital-efficient startups across North America that are ready to scale. Companyon’s capital and expertise help scale portfolio companies into a supersized Series A or non-dilutive growth.
Tom Lazay | Co-Founder & General Partner
Tom co-founded the startup that became VoiceSignal with a classmate while at Trinity College. The mission of the company was to bring conversational speech technology into the home by developing small footprint speech recognition and synthesis technology that could run on low-cost consumer-grade micro-controllers, a technical challenge that had not been solved in the industry at that time. VoiceSignal built a world class R&D team by recruiting some of the industry’s most talented scientists and engineers from MIT, Johns Hopkins, Dragon Systems, and Lernout & Hauspie. Leveraging this expertise, the company pivoted to licensing it’s IP and small footprint technology to mobile handset manufacturers. By 2007, VoiceSignal’s mobile voice dialing, command & control, and dictation software was shipping globally in more than 300M handsets from companies like Samsung, Motorola, Blackberry, Palm, and others. Tom had many roles throughout the company’s journey. At the time of its acquisition by Nuance, Tom was running the company’s product management team, data management team, and was managing relationships with wireless carriers like Sprint & Verizon. Nuance Acquired VoiceSignal for $300M in 2007.
In 2011, Tom was asked by his former co-founder at VoiceSignal to join Shaser Bioscience as COO to lead product, regulatory affairs, quality systems, and engineering. Tom had invested in and advised Shaser prior to joining. Shaser had a mission be the dominant provider of energy-based aesthetic medical device technology for the consumer market by exclusively providing clinical performance, extensive IP, superior engineering, and continual innovation. The company developed the entire consumer product including IP, engineering, FDA / regulatory clearance and design for manufacturing, and licensed the product to the Remington Division of Spectrum Brands (Remington, Ray-o-Vac, Stanley, Black & Decker). The product was sold and distributed the product worldwide including channels like Target, Costco, Walmart, Amazon, Ulta Beauty, QVC and TV Infomercials. Tom recruited and built the QA and Regulatory affairs team, and put a more rigorous recruiting, product management, and engineering process in place. In 2012 Spectrum Brands Acquired a 56% stake in Shaser for $50M, and acquired the balance of the company in 2016 based on an earnout structure.
In 2014, Tom built a prototype of an anonymous mobile peer-to-peer payments system (called Silouet) to facilitate anonymous in-person tipping while adhering to federal Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations. After testing the system in the Boston market and measuring customer acquisition costs and lifetime value, Tom shut down the service and did not raise capital.
Tom started experimenting with angel investing in 2009 with his investment in Shaser. From 2009 to 2012 Tom did casual angel investing in a handful of deals. In 2014, Tom developed a passion for early-stage investing and advising and invested in two seed funds, Project 11 Ventures, and Converge Venture Partners. Tom built relationships with their portfolio CEOs and received valuable feedback by those CEOs about their needs and expectations from their investors. By interacting with the fund General Partners to help source, screen, and advise portfolio companies, Tom started identifying gaps in the seed VC ecosystem, in particular, the lack of hands-on, execution resources to help companies work faster and smarter, and the lack of Seed2, Pre-series A VCs. These insights, combined by studying later stage funds, like Openview Ventures, inspired Tom to build and launch Companyon Ventures in 2016. He is also a mentor and judge at Mass Challenge.
Firas Raouf | Co-Founder & General Partner
Firas has been involved in early-stage software for the past twenty years, primarily focused on B2B and SaaS. His entry into this space started in 1999 when he co-founded a series of three startups based in California including eEye Digital Security, where Firas was COO in charge of sales, marketing, and operations. During Firas’ tenure at eEye, over $29M in funding was raised from Insight, Bessemer and other investors, as eEye scaled quickly in those first five years to nearly $18M in revenue. As the company scaled to the growth stage, Firas’ chose to leave eEye to pursue another startup.
From eEye, Firas connected with Scott Maxwell, who lead Insight’s investment in eEye. Firas joined Scott in 2005 at Insight to begin his new career as a VC.
In 2006, Scott, Firas and other members of Insight started OpenView Venture Partners, based in Boston. OpenView is an expansion stage fund focused on B2B SaaS with a unique model of delivering exceptional value-add work to its portfolio through a dedicated consulting team.
In the early startup days of OpenView, Firas applied his operational acumen to build the firm’s first deal sourcing process and the first instance of its outbound prospecting process. Firas was also a major contributor to OpenView’s thought leadership through content marketing.
Through his tenure at OpenView, Firas invested in, and/or managed, investments in seven portfolio companies; in which a total of $83M was invested through OpenView’s first two funds. As of January 2019, the estimated gross return of the investments is estimated to be top-decile. One of those investments, valued at $1B in early 2019, remains active as of June 2019.
After participating in raising OpenView’s third fund and as the firm began to invest in later stage companies, Firas decided to leave OpenView to focus on early-stage startups. In 2014, Firas founded [N]squared, an advisory firm focused on helping startups scale. Through 2018, Firas was involved in scaling eight companies. Three of these companies were European startups entering the US market. Most notable was ProofHQ, which in 24 months since engaging Firas grew, with no VC-funding, from $4 million to $18 million in ARR and was acquired for $50 million. For another two companies, Firas assumed full-time, interim CEO role. This included Artist Growth, which Firas grew from $80k to $500k in ARR in one year.