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Corporate Venture Capital and How It May Impact Your Startup

HBR | Nicolas Sauvage, Claudia Zeisberger, and Monisha Varadan | Jul 28, 2022

Corporate venture capital - Corporate Venture Capital and How It May Impact Your StartupIn the first half of 2021 alone, Corporate Venture Capital funds (CVCs) around the world inked more than 2,000 deals worth more than $70 billion. It’s an increasingly prevalent alternative to traditional funding options such as VCs and angel investors — but how can entrepreneurs determine whether a CVC is the right fit for their startup? Between 2010 and 2020, the number of CVCs grew more than six times to over 4,000, and these CVCs inked more than 2,000 deals worth $79 billion in the first half of 2021, surpassing all previous annual tallies.

See:  Post-Covid U.S. Tech Economy: Top 20 Cities Venture Capital 2021

These corporate investors offer not only funding, but also access to resources such as subsidiaries that can serve as market validators and customers, marketing and development support, and a credible existing brand. However, alongside this added value, CVCs can also come with some risk.  We found that of the 4,062 CVCs that invested between January 2020 and June 2021, more than half were doing so for the very first time, with just 48% having been in operation for at least two years at the time of investment.

Picking the Right Match

Once you’ve determined whether you want to work with a strategic CVC, a financial CVC, or something in between, there are several steps you can take to figure out whether a specific CVC is a good fit for your startup.

1. Explore the relationship between the CVC and its parent company

Entrepreneurs should start by speaking with employees at the parent company to learn more about the CVC’s internal reputation, its connectedness within the parent organization, and the KPIs or expectations that the parent has for its venture arm.

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An outfit with KPIs that demand frequent knowledge transfer between the CVC and parent company might not be the best match for a founder looking for no-strings-attached capital — but it could be perfect for a startup in search of a hands-on corporate sponsor.

2. Determine the CVC’s structure and expectations

Is it independent in its decision-making, or tightly linked to the corporate parent, perhaps operating under the umbrella of a corporate strategy or development department? If the latter, what are the strategic objectives that the CVC is meant to support? What are its decision-making processes, not just for selecting investments, but for giving portfolio companies access to internal networks and resources? How long does the CVC typically hold onto its portfolio companies, and what are its expectations regarding exit timelines and outcomes?

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