Pitches at the ready. There’s a new fund in town: Freestyle Capital, a new VC firm that will focus on early-stage startups. And to get the ball rolling, Freestyle has raised $27 million in investment funds from limited partners Cendana Capital and Hall Capital.
Founded in 2009 by serial entrepreneurs Josh Felser and Dave Samuel, Freestyle Capital got its start as Felser and Samuel’s own informal investment engine, which has already financed some 27 companies, including Byliner, Get Satisfaction, CrowdFlower, Typekit, About.me, BackType, and Co-Tweet. Some of those names might sound familiar; several have already exited. About.me was acquired by AOL last December, BackType was acquired by Twitter over the summer, and CoTweet was acquired by ExactTarget back in March 2010.
So, while Freestyle Capital has been wheeling and dealing for a couple of years now, today’s announcement marks its decision to up the ante and actually enter the venture capital market not just as entrepreneurs with extra cash to invest, but as a legitimate firm. What makes them different? Felser and Samuel have had a few notable exits of their own.
In 1997, the two co-founded music and entertainment site Spinner.com, which was acquired by AOL Time Warner in 1999 for $320 million, and in 2004, Felser and Samuel co-founded Internet video network Grouper (now Crackle), which was bought in 2006 by Sony for $65 million.
Additionally, Felser co-founded FYI Living, a self-described “mythbusters of health information,” while Samuel has been working with children’s entertainment site 4 Kids, and Brondell, “the first American-based company to develop high-tech toilet seats.”
“Every time we make an investment decision, we draw upon our own deep entrepreneurial experience to unearth the critical success factors for each company – an approach fundamentally different from that of most VCs,” said Josh Felser, in a statement. “Partnering with entrepreneurs at the seed stage is the next best thing to actually being founders ourselves.”
Freestyle Capital will provide seed and early-stage investments to “young companies with transformational business ideas” in the range of $100,000 to $500,000.
“Like the rest of the world, Josh and I have seen how Internet technologies can transform our lives – but we also know first-hand the long road it takes to get there,” said Dave Samuel. “This experience is what really sets Freestyle apart from many other investors.”