October 13, 2017

Inside Corporate Venture Capital: A Closer Look at Venture Development

When a startup receives funding from a VC or a CVC, the true value goes beyond the term sheet. Yes, the funds are necessary to get the startup off the ground, but with a good firm, you’re entering into a partnership that not only aides your business bank account but provides mentors and resources to help build a successful business from the ground up. At Verizon Ventures, we have a dedicated team precisely for this purpose and caught up with them to provide an inside look of what Venture Development really means.

What is Venture Development’s role in Ventures and what is the primary function?

Daniel Chui, Manager, Verizon Ventures: Venture Development has the element of what most VCs would call portfolio development. But it is also more than that. In addition to helping our portfolio companies navigate Verizon, the team works on identifying mutual commercial opportunities to drive business growth and build a repertoire of tools and resources that helps them advance their businesses.  

Paul Heitlinger, Manager, Verizon Ventures: What differentiates Verizon Ventures from other VCs and one of the best reasons to have Verizon Ventures invest is because of the fantastic venture development opportunities that we provide. We have a dedicated team of VenDev folks who work tirelessly to promote our portfolio companies both within Verizon and outside the company. We're our startups' best advocates and champions and we're always looking for new opportunities for connections. In addition, we facilitate access to Verizon services like wireless service or innovation labs to help companies work with Verizon closer.

What types of support or assistance have you offered to portfolio companies?

DC: One example, as a large telecommunications provider, we provide free access to wireless devices and services and credits on Verizon Digital Media Services (CDN).  We also subsidize the cost to several services including co-working and expert networks.

PH: We provide things like facilitating business development meetings with internal business units, work with third party services that provide benefits to our startups, PR and marketing, and internal offers (like CDN and wireless services). Our backgrounds are wide ranging and varied, with lots of operational experience, so we can provide mentorship and strategy support when needed.

How do you help elevate the portfolio companies within the Verizon organization?

DC: In order to help our portfolio companies and identify new investment opportunities, our team meets with business and product leaders on a regular basis to better understand their goals, programs, and needs. In those instances where we have a portfolio company that can meet an immediate need, we facilitate that discussion. In other cases, we hold events such as Startup Day, where we have our portfolio companies come to our main office to exhibit for the day, participate in panels on relevant topics, and meet with senior leadership.

PH: Part of our job is to learn who is who within the huge Verizon organization. It's these relationships and proactive outreach that make the biggest impact when it comes to making internal connections. Navigating an organization as complex as Verizon is hard from the outside and we help make it possible.

What do portfolio companies appreciate most from your work with them?

DC: Our portfolio companies appreciate the fact that we're looking out for their best interests.  We work to better understand their needs and see how we can support and help them to make their business easier to scale or cheaper to run.

PH: Anything to help them grow. Business opportunities are second to none when it comes to venture development, and that's the number one goal we have. We want our portfolio companies to be as successful as possible.

Having a team dedicated to supporting the startups in our portfolio allows us to to create opportunities that they otherwise may not have accessed. The Venture Development team is continuously looking for new ways to help our portfolio companies foster growth by listening founders and evaluating and evolving what we offer on an ongoing basis.  

Tags: portfolio , Andrew Der , Startups , Daniel Chui , VC , Paul Heitlinger , CVC , Venture Development