FAQ

FAQ

What we are about

  • What is H/L Ventures?

    H/L Ventures manages a family of companies and funds that together comprise a holistic company-building ecosystem. At the heart of this system is H/L Studio, which was among the first venture studios to include social impact in its investment thesis. That venture studio is now supported by our opportunity fund, CityRock Ventures, and our managed services group, H/L Strategies, among other entities.

  • What is H/L Studio?

    In 2009, H/L Ventures was one of the early pioneers of the venture studio model, launching what we now call H/L Studio as our first strategy. From inception, our team believed that taking an active role in co-building our portfolio companies – far beyond simple funding – would be crucial at any stage. Many venture firms speak of having a studio or value-added services, but to truly deliver the rarest form of venture capital – consistent support to all portfolio companies – requires the right structure. We partner with founders to create extraordinary enterprises, aligning our interests as closely as possible with the entrepreneur(s).

  • What is CityRock Ventures?

    The CityRock family of funds are the associated growth vehicles of H/L Ventures. CityRock funds begin investing in Series A, both in our existing H/L studio companies and in companies new to our firm, but similarly focused on growth, impact, and diversity. While our CityRock funds participate in Series A and some B rounds in amounts ranging from $500,000 to $1,500,000, CityRock funds also normally receive some modest consideration in options or warrants for all the value-added work of the H/L studio team, which works in daily active engagement with every CityRock portfolio company, just like we do with our studio companies.

  • What makes H/L Ventures different?

    We’re focused on being the best partner for founders at the very first stages of company creation, and we have designed the firm to do just that. When you work with H/L Ventures, you get active partners working side-by-side with you on your biggest and smallest challenges. Whether it’s setting strategy for a fundraise or thinking through your organizational design, we’re in your corner through the thick and thin of company building over those first few critical years and beyond.

    On top of that, you get access to our full H/L Ventures ecosystem which consists of our full-time staff, Venture Partner team, Member Partners of the Holding Company, Advisors, and hundreds of subject matter expects, working to help you fast forward through the tough nitty-gritty of building a company so you can focus on what makes yours special. Whether it’s our portfolio team building your Series A deck, or one of our venture partners connecting you with top-tier candidates, we’re here to help across all your needs.

  • What kind of startups do you work with?

    H/L Ventures works with companies that are protecting or promoting people or the planet. We are industry-agnostic, with massive networks that allow us to be relevant to almost any business and industry with the right configuration of our team.

  • Do you have specific industries that you focus on?

    We are sector-agnostic, however H/L Ventures works with companies that are protecting or promoting people or the planet. This can be either through the mission of the company or the diversity of the founding team. Please see some of the industries we already work in today.

  • Who are the people behind H/L Ventures?

    Please see our amazing community and team here.

  • Who are H/L Ventures’ limited partners / investors?

    We pick our Member Partners very carefully, and it’s important to have shareholders who we can be proud of and who share our values. All of our investors are accredited individuals who have a passion for early-stage company building. We do not have any sovereign wealth funds or government associated entitles as investors.

  • How many portfolio companies do you have?

    Please see our expanding portfolio here.

  • In what geographies are you active?

    We work with companies across the entire US. Unfortunately, we cannot work with companies outside the US. We are, however, able to help internationally-based companies in certain geographies to launch a US company and presence, but can only hold ownership in a US-domiciled entity.

  • What is H/L Ventures’ stance on diversity and inclusion?

    Our mission is to build and serve the strongest community of entrepreneurs. Diversity and inclusion are core to the strongest communities around the world and thus, are core to the H/L Ventures Community and must be for the broader technology ecosystem. We also believe that diverse teams increase performance, and have data to substantiate this from over a decade of operation. We live this mission, with a core team that is extremely diverse in gender, ethnicity, and experience.

  • What do your founders say about H/L Ventures?

    As part of our diligence process, we’ll introduce you to a couple of our current portfolio founders so you can hear directly from them what it’s like to work with H/L Ventures. In the meantime, check out our founder bios, many of which feature their thoughts on H/L Ventures.

Our Investment Thesis

  • What do you look for in a startup?

    The biggest factors in our decision-making are the founding team and our ability to help (we call that “relevance”). For us to be involved, we must be able to meaningfully increase the odds of success for the company. There are other things we look for, which you can find at this link if you are thinking of applying for H/L Studio, and this link if you are interested in CityRock Ventures.

  • How much investment do you provide?

    H/L Studio does not provide cash investment up-front, rather we take equity in exchange for partnership: we build first and view our commitment of time, expertise, team, network, and experience as an investment in non-financial capital.

    CityRock Ventures invests capital at Series A (and occasionally Series B) in both H/L Studio companies and companies coming to us from outside of the studio pipeline. In the case of CityRock investing in a Series A or later round which is not from our studio, CityRock Ventures will also require options/warrants in consideration of the full support of our team for every CityRock portfolio company, regardless of origin.

  • What is your typical check size?

    H/L Ventures investments have previously ranged from as little to $4,000 to over $1,500,000, which does not include co-investment by our active investors.

  • If I’m fundraising now, should I still talk to you or should I wait?

    That is completely up to you. Our process does not depend on the timing of your fundraise (in fact, we often prefer to start with companies that are not in an active raise). However, if we are able to form an equity partnership before your round closes, we are able to help fundraise and potentially invest. It is important to note that we are neither professional fundraisers, nor a broker/dealer. When we work alongside our portfolio companies to raise money, it is as owners in those companies and working with, not for, the leadership team. This is a crucial distinction and one we take very seriously.

  • Is it too late to talk to you if I’ve already raised money?

    No, we have worked with companies who have raised several millions of dollars in funding and are approaching the Series A stage, and our CityRock growth funds invest in Series A and later companies. 

  • Do you make investments post-Series A?

    H/L Ventures has the ability to make investments post-Series A and later stages of the H/L Ventures portfolio companies. Companies coming to H/L Ventures at Series A or later are considered by our later-stage CityRock Venture Partners funds. CityRock makes capital investments in Series A rounds and later in our existing studio companies and in new companies from outside of the H/L Studio pipeline. In the case of CityRock investing in a Series A or later round which is not from our studio, CityRock will also require options/ warrants in consideration of the full support of our studio team for every CityRock portfolio company, regardless of origin.

  • I’m raising a Series A or Series B – should I still contact you?

    Yes. We have the ability to invest in Series A and B companies. Companies coming to H/L Ventures at Series A or later are considered by CityRock Ventures. CityRock makes capital investments in Series A rounds and later in both, our existing studio companies and new companies coming to us from outside the H/L Studio pipeline. In the case of CityRock investing in a Series A or later round which is not from our studio, CityRock will also require options/warrants in consideration of the full support of our studio team for every CityRock Ventures portfolio company, regardless of origin.

Our Terms and Process

  • What are your terms? (equity ranges)

    For the H/L Studio, our initial equity stake ranges from 5% to 20%, depending on the stage of the company. We like to own enough of a company to make sure that we can dedicate meaningful time and resources to helping you build. The historical average stake (through 2020) across our H/L Studio portfolio is just over 8%. This is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on stage, need, etc.

    CityRock Ventures has no specific target for ownership. Please review our terms here.

  • Do you sign NDAs?

    Like many VCs, we do not sign NDAs up front, as a matter of policy. Do not share with us anything that you are concerned about, and if we are deep in due diligence and need to see trade secrets, we may sign a more narrow, targeted NDA about that specific information.

  • What is your diligence process?

    Our diligence process is a unique mixture of components that is meant to be a true two-way street. We must evaluate opportunities selectively, and we know that founders will do the same to us, as well they should. Relevance and likelihood of a successful partnership is at the heart of what we are working to determine via due diligence. Please see here for our due diligence process at the H/L Studio, and here for our process at CityRock Ventures.

  • How long does the due diligence process take?

    Just as we are selective about the companies we work with, we expect you to be selective about the investors/partners you work with. Our diligence process is designed to determine if there is a mutual fit between us. This can take anywhere from several weeks to as long as a few months.

  • Do you take board seats?

    We do not request or require board seats. We consider taking board seats when asked by the founder. We will take a board seat if we lead a subsequent round.

  • How much will you control the decisions of my company?

    It is your company and we do not try to take control or override the decisions of our founders. We will honestly express our opinion and advice, but we will support the decisions you make. Our incentives are as closely aligned to founder incentives as possible, unlike traditional venture firms.

What we do for our Founders

  • What help does H/L Ventures provide for my company?

    H/L Ventures becomes an extension of your team. You get access to our full-time portfolio team, venture partners, and extended network of subject matter experts. We help on almost every aspect of your company including hiring, service providers, branding, sales, marketing, PR, product, finance, fundraising, and much more. We aim to have relevant support for any founder need. Please see our model here for further information.

  • How closely will we be working together?

    Very closely. As an extension of your team, our relationship with you is similar to an early employee or co-founder. We are in contact with our entire portfolio on a virtually daily basis, either through email, calls, or text.

  • Am I assigned an “account manager” or point person that will handle my company?

    No. As an H/L Ventures portfolio company, you receive full access to our entire portfolio team. Our entire portfolio team will be on most communications with your company, although the full team will not be present on every call.

  • Do you help your companies hire?

    Yes. Within the H/L Ventures ecosystem, we have great networks of senior level executives always on the lookout for new positions, recruiting firms who specialize in specific roles (SDRs, Engineers, etc.) and industries, and Venture Partners who have years of expertise in building teams. We will always pick up the phone to take initial interviews or help close candidates. We will help everywhere from drafting the job description to determining the appropriate compensation structure.

  • Will you help me in the next financing rounds?

    Absolutely. H/L Ventures may even – and often does – invest in future financing rounds. For every company, and every round, we will reach out to our extensive network of angel investors, family offices, VCs, and others to help you fill out the round. It is important to note that we are neither professional fundraisers, nor a broker/dealer. When we work alongside our portfolio companies to raise money, it is as owners in those companies and working with, not for, the leadership team. This is a crucial distinction and one we take very seriously.

  • How do you help your companies acquire customers?

    Whether you are a consumer company trying to optimize paid marketing, or an enterprise company looking to nail down your channel partner strategy, the best way to get up to speed fast is to learn from those who have been there before. We’ve helped dozens of early-stage companies across a wide range of industries on their early growth and customer acquisition plans. If we don’t have the answer in-house, we will find someone else who does from within the H/L Ventures ecosystem. We have a vast network of subject matter experts who we can connect to our companies to provide custom, focused advice based on the exact situation. Our networks cover a wide range of industries, and we often utilize that network for direct access to senior and executive level decision makers.

  • Can you help me identify the right service providers?

    Yes, we have a network of hundreds of vetted service providers that we call the H/L Trusted Partner Network. The network includes everything from legal providers to computing services. We’ve vetted each of these service providers and in many cases have a relationship in place where the service provider will offer a discount or preferred pricing. Our portfolio companies are currently able to access over $300,000 worth of perks from the H/L Trusted Partner Network per company.

  • Does H/L Ventures’ involvement or ability to add value change over time as my company grows?

    Through our experience, we have found that our involvement and ability to add value does NOT fade over time. Many issues and needs of early-stage companies persist throughout the life of the company: hiring, finance, investor relations, sales, marketing, and fundraising, among others. Because we partner with founders very early-on in their company’s life, we are able to form a strong bond with the team and become the first point-of-contact for many of these issues as they arise.

Click this footnote for disclosures

Disclaimer: The information provided above is provided for potential portfolio companies only. Our portfolios are managed by 903 Partners, LLC d/b/a CityRock Venture Partners, an exempt reporting advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Status and registration as an investment adviser does not imply any special skill or training. The information provided herein is not directed to any investors or potential investors, and does not constitute an offer to sell — or a solicitation of an offer to buy — any securities, and may not be used or relied upon in evaluating the merits of any investment.