We are so incredibly grateful to have so many great milestones in our short history — and 2018 was no different. We founded NCV on the idea that the best entrepreneurs are building companies outside the coasts, and with the support from our great investors who believe in our mission, we have found that to be even truer than we imagined. Through numerous strong additions to our portfolio, expanding our Venture Partner program and ramping up our E2E programming, we couldn’t be prouder of our entrepreneurs’ accomplishments in 2018. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights.
We love any opportunity to bring Austin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem together, and we are firm believers that it shouldn’t take an industry conference or panel of experts to do it. That’s why we founded our series of ‘Meat-Ups’ in 2018 — with pig roasts, grilling demos and fresh meat from Austin’s finest ranches courtesy of Rosso & Flynn. Whether it’s kicking off summer or discussing the rapid developments in the world of eCommerce, we have truly enjoyed bringing Austin’s founders, investors and service providers together in our backyard for great BBQ, and even better conversations.
SXSW has always played a large role in Austin’s innovation ecosystem and has done a tremendous job putting the Texas capitol at the forefront of people’s minds when they think about startups and entrepreneurship. That’s why we were so thrilled to put on our first-ever SXSW panel featuring our portfolio CEOs Julia Cheek of EverlyWell and Eric Korman of Phlur, as well as Localeur CEO Joah Spearman. Our panel focused on one of our major investment themes: digital natives disrupting time-honored industries. The panel’s great turnout and lively Q&A showed us that this shift in consumer behavior isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
One of the more never-wracking parts of 2018 was our first-ever Annual Meeting. Our mission is to source and support the best entrepreneurs in Next Coast markets, and none of it would be possible without our incredible investors. We were so pleased to have the opportunity to share our firm’s progress over the past year and give our investors the chance to hear directly from out portfolio CEOs. Their enthusiasm for our founders’ business ideas and development as leaders makes our whole mission possible, so our first-ever — and successful! — Annual Meeting was certainly a highlight of 2018.
At NCV, one of our main goals is to leverage our network and industry expertise to provide our portfolio with the best resources to scale their businesses, and our Venture Partner program is a key part of that. This year, we added an atypical Venture Partner, bringing on Jason Dorsey to advise our portfolio on consumer trends, brand building and customer acquisition. Jason is an expert on digital natives and generational behavior, and he has helped us refine our investment themes and evaluate big trends that impact our investment decisions. Jason is not a garden variety Venture Partner, and we’ve already seen his incredible impact on our firm and our portfolio.
As early-stage investors we know that one of the key parts to successfully scaling is having a strong and well-suited executive team at the helm. That’s why we brought on Jeff Browning as a Talent Venture Partner in 2018. Jeff has helped our portfolio companies with all aspects of organizational design, talent acquisition and executive development — as well as helping our founders round out their executive teams. He has 30 years experience in executive talent acquisition and spent 15 years as the Recruiting Partner for Austin Ventures. He’s already been an invaluable resource to our portfolio companies as they rapidly scale their companies.
We were absolutely thrilled to have our first exit in our short history from our portfolio in 2018. Clarity Money, a fintech startup that helps consumers manage their personal finances, was acquired by Goldman Sachs. Clarity Money’s sticky traction with digital natives and intuitive UI made it an incredible addition to Goldman Sachs offerings as they seek to reach Millennials and Gen Z with modern banking platforms. Founder Adam Dell created an intuitive product that’s disrupting a massive market, and we were so excited to be a part of his journey.
We had not one, but two exits in 2018. Our portfolio company OnRamp, an Austin-based data center and cloud computing company, was acquired by Des Moines-based IT company LightEdge. LightEdge now runs one of the largest interconnected data centers outside the coasts in key Next Coast markets. OnRamp didn’t just have a great suite of products, it was also led by two great entrepreneurs: CEO Lucas Braun and President Ryan Robinson. Helping them through the acquisition process and their excitement around thinking big made an exhilarating liquidity moment even greater — and reminded us of why do exactly what we do.
There were so many great milestones in 2018, but to us one of the greatest has been expanding our portfolio with the top founders in Next Coast markets that are building innovative companies disrupting massive markets. Investing in these types of entrepreneurs is exactly why we founded this firm. This year, we added 11 new companies to our portfolio in everything from SaaS to at-home health testing to blockchain platforms. Our collaborative approach has allowed us to source some of the best glass eaters in a wide variety of industries, and we couldn’t be more excited to help them scale and grow as leaders in 2019.