Technology and marketing entrepreneur and investor Chris Cunningham has recruited a group of media and tech executives to help startups get off the ground.
Cunningham cofounded mobile advertising firm Appssavvy before holding senior roles at location data firm Unacast and mobile advertising company ironSource.
Five years ago, he started C2 Ventures to angel invest in startups like Arbor and credit card company Petal at the pre-seed and seed rounds, using his own startup background to help new companies. Now, he's applying that model more broadly, raising $10 million for a new fund backed by media and tech veterans who will also advise founders.
The new fund, named C2V Capital Partners, has raised more than $5 million and seeks to raise $10 million by the end of the year, said Cunningham. Its 25 investors include senior execs and founders from marketing, media and technology companies:
- Rich Antoniello, Complex founder and CEO
- Bill Wise, CEO of Mediaocean
- Ramsey McGrory, chief revenue officer of Mediaocean
- Ari Paparo, CEO of Beeswax
- Brian Adams, VP of engineering at Spotify
- Adam Caplan, cofounder of ARM Insight
- Brian Quinn, president of OpenSlate
- Jason Kelly, CEO of Kambr
- Pete Davies, chief revenue officer of Darkstore
- Chris Feo, SVP of global sales and partnerships at Tapad
- Geoff Hamm, cofounder of TILT Holdings
- David Yaffe, former cofounder and CEO of Arbor
- Kurt Abrahamson, former CEO of ShareThis
- Haroon Mokhtarzada, CEO of TrueBill and former CEO of Webs.com
Matt Olivo will help run the fund as partner, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.
Cunningham wants to invest in non-adtech companies
C2V Capital Partners plans to make eight or nine investments per year, with an average investment of $150,000 to $250,000, Cunningham said. Half of the fund will go towards early rounds of funding at startups with the other half set aside for follow-up rounds.
Cunningham said that he considers the fund to be a generalist firm but is particularly interested in martech, direct to consumer, wellness and travel companies. Despite his background in adtech, Cunningham said he's not interested in advertising-based startups because they often lack recurring revenue.
"I see an adtech company relying on an agency holding company to support their revenue targets," he said. "A SaaS business gets repeatable, reoccurring revenue from other publishers and media companies — the revenue is sticky."
C2V Capital Partners has invested in four companies:
- Kambr: Sells airline companies revenue-management software
- Beam: A direct-to-consumer cannabinoid brand
- Boostr: Software that helps publishers' sales teams manage ad space
- Magellan: Analyzes and measures ads in podcasts.
Cunningham said the fund plans to invest in two other companies this year, which he wouldn't name. One makes software to change the construction business, and the other helps automobiles solve for clean-technology issues.
The LPs will also advise the startups and create marketing material and host events for startups, similar to the work that Cunningham has done for his own investments like Narrative, a data startup he created a video series for.
Complex's Antoniello said a lot of investment firms talk about doing more than raise money for companies, but Cunningham has a track record to back up his approach.
"There's a lot of people out there talking about how they're going to bring a very talented roster of people with different perspectives and help you through downturns, thought process or connections. There are very few who actually do that," Antoniello said.
Cunningham is banking on his network to scale his investments
Patrick O'Leary, founder and CEO of boostr, said that Cunningham's experience working at startups sets him apart from traditional tech investors like Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road.
"It can be a pretty demoralizing process for founders to raise money," he said. "Chris was a breath of fresh air."
Beam cofounder Matt Lombardi said he cold-emailed Cunningham about a previous company and kept in touch with Cunningham when launching Beam, leading C2V Capital Partners to invest in the brand's recent $5 million seed round. This month, Beam opened a pop-up shop in New York that Cunningham stopped by.
"I liked his experience as an entrepreneur and taking that knowledge to help other companies," Lombardi said. "Chris is such a force of energy and positivity mixed with strategic thinking — he has a very good network of people."