An unlikely prospect is heading to Washington, D.C.-Baltimore corridor on Wednesday through Friday to find new investments.
Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Betaspring is looking to add more D.C. region companies to its portfolio, and the two partners are visiting both D.C. and Baltimore this week to screen potential companies for their RevUp fund. Meetings will be held in D.C. on Sept. 13 and 14 at the Alley co-working space and in Baltimore on Friday, Sept. 15.
“D.C. has the hallmarks of an ecosystem that I think are really important,” said Melissa Withers, a partner with the RevUp fund. “There’s a lot of activity, there’s a lot of assets on the ground and over the last 3-4 years, especially, there’s a real blossoming of activity.”
RevUp launched in 2014 as a way of aligning Betaspring with the core mission of its partners. Both Withers and her partner Allan Tear want to support companies that are already bringing in revenue, instead of the plethora pre-revenue earlier stage startups they came across in their work around Providence, Boston and New York City.
To be eligible for the fund, startups have to have solid month-over-month growth, have a high-quality leadership team and have room to grow in their market. The typical company entering the portfolio has had a recurring revenue between $300,000 and $1.5 million, Withers said. RevUp uses a revenue-return model, rather than an equity stake model, where startups give a percentage of their revenue back to RevUp.
“My partner and I were really frustrated by this myopic focus on unicorn hunting at the early-stage level. All of these programs and accelerator programs were all aiming at finding the ‘Uber for X,'” Withers said. “We took the best of the old model, but shifted our attention to revenue as a really important part of our [portfolio] companies’ business model.”
Withers said the group is excited to tackle the D.C.-Baltimore corridor at the same time. Withers has always thought regionally, so it just made sense to focus on the two different tech and innovation ecosystems at the same time.
“With D.C. and Baltimore, what we found when we started connecting with more the community, we discovered that while there are unique nuances to each economy, there is quite a bit of overlap,” she said.
And it just makes sense. Before restructuring in 2014, Betaspring made an investment in Washington, D.C. success story Surprise Ride, who they still have a working relationship with now.
“I love New York, I love Boston, I love all of the cities, but there’s something really special about coming into startup communities that have had to work hard to grow,” Withers said. “It feels like a really great time for D.C.”