Beyond the Pitch

Rev1 Ventures making good on promise of name change

Rev1 Ventures making good on promise of name change originally published in Columbus Business First.

Rev1 Ventures is calling 2014 a pivotal year for its transformation to fully focusing on advising and funding tech startups with potential for rapid growth.

The former TechColumbus became a more active investor and created programs to help entrepreneurs vet ideas, find customers and get discounted or free professional services.

“We invested in as many companies in 2014 as we had invested in the five previous years,” said Wayne Embree, executive vice president for venture acceleration.

Rev1 made 18 investments in startups, ranging from $25,000 to $400,000 for a total of $4 million.

“We were able to get a much stronger throughput from the time we meet companies and the time we’re able to put money to work,” Embree said. “We’re able to track these companies much more precisely than we were in previous years.”

Meanwhile, earlier investments are starting to pay off as companies are acquired or raise new funding rounds.

Rev1’s portfolio attracted $109 million in outside investment to the region and $78 million in capital from acquisitions of Uptivity, a maker of call center analytics software. Uptivity still operates in the Brewery District, generating $12.6 million revenue last year for Utah-based acquirer InContact Inc.

Rev1 started Concept Academy, running 150 entrepreneurs through three days of intense research to determine if their ideas for businesses are truly what customers want. Just 30 percent found true market demand, and participants later raised a combined $4.8 million.

It also expanded its First Connect program, getting startups access to major corporations as potential customers and mentors. Eight Rev1 companies found clients that way in 2014. The network also recruits attorneys, accountants, designers and other professionals who donated $775,000 worth of services.

“In some respect, startups are a contact sport,” Embree said. “The more engaged you are as an entrepreneur, it increases the likelihood you’ll get to critical milestones quicker.”

Business First subscribers can read the full article here.

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