Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF)
It has been an inspiring start for Cortado Ventures. In this newsletter, we’ll share what we’ve accomplished in the first 100 days, in addition to several new announcements. Since our last writing, we have invested into our third company, added Board of Advisor members, and are naming our Expert Advisor in aerospace. Read about our insights on investing in Midwest startups and establishing product-market fit for early stage companies. Lastly, we’re in the final month of fundraising, with tremendous response that pushed us past our $10MM goal and towards our extended $15MM target for the fund.
“If Oklahoma is to compete in the global economy of the future, we must mobilize our scarce resources to fund innovation. Cortado Ventures is a model that assimilates entrepreneurs, venture finance expertise, and a network of investors toward that end.” — David Rainbolt, Cortado investor
What Lies Ahead
- First 100 Days Report
- Next Investment: MITO Material Solutions
- Board of Advisors
- Aerospace Expert Advisor, Paul Campbell
- Cortado Featured at Oklahoma Venture Forum
- ‘Meet the VC Firm Betting on Oklahoma’s Future’
- Portfolio Company Update: Respond Flow
- VC Insights: Product/Market Fit
- We Are Hiring!
First 100 Days Report
Since launching in late May, Cortado Ventures has achieved several key milestones, which we’re proud to share in our “First 100 Days Report”
- Reached our $10MM fund goal almost a year ahead of schedule, now extended to $15MM
- Invested in three companies which together have already grown revenue and customer pipeline considerably, and represent approximately 40 jobs created this year
- Added Expert Advisors in fintech, insurtech, and aerospace
- Onboarded our Entrepreneur In Residence, working with entrepreneurs, executives and stakeholders
- Created a Board of Advisors including the top talent in the state in entrepreneurship
- Been published and featured in articles, podcasts and speeches throughout Oklahoma
- Co-invested alongside some of the top institutional investors in the region
- Not to mention several announcements that we’re holding back for now!
Next Investment: MITO Material Solutions
Announced on social media earlier this week, Cortado recently closed on our third investment. MITO Material Solutions has a patented material that started at Oklahoma State University. CEO Haley Keith and her team are revolutionizing the future of materials. MITO Materials’ proprietary graphene functionalization technique allows them to make hybrid polymer modifiers for use in all industries. Only 2lbs of E-GO can make either 3,000 carbon fiber bike frames or enough plastic parts for five Ford F-150s. Manufacturers are saying E-GO is “allowing us to shed a third of our original weight,” and “nothing has ever come close to this.” CEO Haley Keith said in the announcement:
“The world is shifting to a need for lighter, stronger, and more sustainable materials; right now we need something better than metal. The partners we secured through this funding round have pulled together strategic customers and suppliers that will help us scale and meet this very pressing market need.”
Board of Advisors
Cortado Ventures is pleased to announce the first two members of our Board of Advisors, Erika Lucas and Devon Laney. Erika co-founded StitchCrew and partnered with the Oklahoma City Thunder to launch an accelerator to support founders in the middle of the country. She was born in Mexico into a family of bootstrapped entrepreneurs, and has seen the dignity entrepreneurship brings and the impact to the community. With a background in private equity, Oklahoma Department of Commerce, entrepreneurship, and frequent speaker on investing in women and people of color, Erika brings a wealth of expertise and perspective.
Devon is CEO of 36 Degrees North, Tulsa’s basecamp for entrepreneurs, startups and innovators. It has the best place to find the high-quality workspace, helpful resources and diverse community needed to build growing companies that drive economic impact in the Tulsa region. Previously, Devon was CEO of the Innovation Depot in Birmingham and worked with Accenture on strategic projects at Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, Devon is an entrepreneur with experience in the technology and B2B space. Both Erika and Devon bring relevant experience, expert knowledge, and broad perspective that is invaluable for Cortado.
Aerospace Expert Advisor, Paul Campbell
We are adding to our team of Expert Advisors who help Cortado evaluate companies within their domain of executive-level operating expertise. This month we welcome our aerospace expert, Paul Campbell. Paul is a tenured CEO and executive of prominent aerospace companies, including Enviro Systems (in Seminole, OK), Capstone Turbine, and Rolls-Royce. Under his leadership, Enviro Systems doubled market share and EBITDA margin while growing sales CAGR 11.8%. His current role is CEO of Spartan Energy Services, operating in 10 states. Paul is also committed to transforming rural America with a passion for creating rural jobs and improving rural education, and founded The Academy of Seminole. It’s an honor to welcome Paul as Cortado’s aerospace advisor.
Cortado Featured at Oklahoma Venture Forum
Managing Partner Nathaniel Harding was the featured speaker in August’s meeting of the Oklahoma Venture Forum. OVF is the champion for small business ventures and economic development, connecting and recognizing venture talents in Oklahoma. Their diverse membership includes investors, entrepreneurs and service providers from across Oklahoma representing the wide array of business interests in our state. OVF programs create awareness of business opportunities and trends and offer purposeful networking for leaders of commerce.
‘Meet the VC Firm Betting on Oklahoma’s Future’
New York-based financial journalist John Hyatt recently visited with Cortado Ventures to learn about our perspective on why now is the perfect time for what we do. Hyatt captured very well the spirit of our “why”. Read more on his blog ‘What’s The Deal’ and see below an excerpt:
“Harding wants to leverage his entrepreneurial and financial acumen to invest in promising Oklahoma technology startups, while also contributing to the diversification of his home state’s economy. At the end of the day, Harding is an Oklahoman who wants to play a role in setting up his state for long-term prosperity.”
Portfolio Company Update: Respond Flow
Our first investment, Respond Flow, has grown revenue exponentially since our investment in May, having released the second generation of their platform and signed their largest customer. The company is quickly adding talent and customers, and is a great example of the kind of companies Cortado targets. If you own a business and are looking for a way to connect with current and potential customers, please contact Respond Flow. Their text message system is very popular with customers, and cuts through the clutter with customer- and product-specific interactions with an exceptionally high conversion rate.
VC Insights: Product/Market Fit
We love finding and sharing great insights on how to find, invest in, and build great startups. Arguably the most important thing to get right for an early stage technology company is product/market fit (PMF). How do you know that people want what you’re making? How can you quickly iterate to make it even better? Some of the best reading and tools on early-stage PMF valuation is by Superhuman founder and CEO, Rahul Vohra. We’re sharing the 5-step process here, and will link to the reading and tools, the best we’ve seen on this topic.
- Set up a survey to ask your users “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”
- Segment your audience to find supporters and paint a picture of high-expectation customers
- Analyze feedback to convert on-the-fence users into fanatics
- Roadmap your improvements by doubling down on what users love and addressing what holds others back
- Track product/market fit over time as your most important metric
We Are Hiring!
We are still accepting applications for our Venture Associate position. Please follow this link before September 9th to apply. The Cortado associate will be involved in sourcing, vetting and negotiating deals; portfolio company management, and fund administration. Be a part of history in the making!