More Than a VC
There's Venture Capital and there's Venture Capital. Like anything, there are degrees and shades that make a difference in the VC world. For those seeking financial backing for a project, it pays to know what you're looking for. If we take VC101, then it’s all about spreadsheets and data marching across screens. It's how it can be, but for us, not how it should be.
VC is also about people or, more to the point, about relationships. While the numbers have to add up – and yes, we like our numbers too – the approach at Oxygen Ventures is to see the dollars as just the beginning of our ties with our VC recipient. From there, we build.
Founding any for-profit undertaking on relationships makes sound business sense. A business doesn't just fall from the sky. It has to be dreamed up and then put into action by someone – a person who, willingly or not, becomes a figurehead for the brand. Development is facilitated by partnership with others, with founders having to bring in those who know the things they don't. That collaboration continues as the business grows and changes. There are relationships every step of the way.
Some see a business as simply a way of funnelling funds into a bank account – an almost mechanical means for generating capital. And doubtless, some venture capital firms see their investments as such. But that's naive. Smart founders recognise their businesses as the sum of the people that make them up – employees and wider stakeholders all contribute. It’s why we’re keen to understand the people behind the business before we invest.
Founder and financial backer of Oxygen Ventures, Larry Kestelman, is passionate about the people component in any business he runs or invests in. From the days of starting up his own people-oriented business at Dodo, to today, as he looks to put something back into local entrepreneurial culture, Larry sees the relationship as central.
Which brings us back to VC.
For Larry and Oxygen Ventures, the goal is not just to throw money at exciting new ventures. For us, VC is all about fostering the new business with all the assistance our network can muster. Larry's LK Group is a variety of businesses, focused on delivering exactly the kind of support digital startups need from reaching MVP to going global.
Oxygen Ventures' funding recipients become clients of Larry's numerous business nodes, locking into already-established and successful operations to take advantage of their expertise and support.
This isn’t VC as you know it. As Larry told Fairfax Media, “We are looking for business ideas worth involving our time and resources. If they just need money, we're not the right people.”
"I'm very much for Australia's promising startups. I hate the idea that people have to run off to find funding and execution. I'm wanting to help, but I'm interested in what we do."
We deliver more than venture capital, and our goal is to serve our founders as best we can. A pile of money has a value – but it’s only an investment when the people around it use it wisely.