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Wireframe Ventures is an early-stage fund investing in founders on a mission to improve the health of people and the planet. Wireframe Ventures likes to be the first check in pre-seed/seed-stage startups and work closely with founders from inception to success. Their capital is early, active, and patient.
- Stage: Pre-Seed, Seed
- Check Size: $200K-1.5M
- Geography: US, Canada, Europe
- Lead/Follow: Lead and Follow
- Revenue/Valuation Thresholds: No revenue is required
About the Fund
Why was the fund created?
Paul and Harsh started Wireframe Ventures in 2016 based on over a decade of experience at the time investing and operating in climate and health startups. Over the prior few years, there had been a cleantech crash and also an explosion of generalist seed funds. Despite the urgent and enormous opportunity in climate and health, there was a lack of high-quality funding sources committed to supporting founders at the earliest stages. Paul and Harsh saw an opportunity to pair their deep domain experience and networks in these areas with a service-based approach to partnering with teams at the early, chaotic stages of company development.
What is Wireframe Venture’s core belief?
Climate change is the biggest risk to human health on a global scale. As such, Wireframe’s investment thesis is focused on human and planetary health. Both are intertwined at a societal level – people care so much about the climate because they also care about the wellbeing of 8 billion souls who call it home. Additionally, in many cases, the approach to building a startup in a regulated area, with channels to market, often a physical product that must be delivered, entrenched incumbents and sometimes significant capital requirements create similar challenges for startups in both areas. And at a specific level, some of the same tech stack, whether synthetic biology or computational biology is being applied to health, agriculture, new foods, or sustainable consumer and industrial materials.
What domains in climate tech does Wireframe Ventures have the greatest expertise in?
Paul has more than 15 years of experience investing in renewables, energy and climate while having been an active early-stage investor throughout the first cleantech wave. Harsh has over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and investor in climate, human health (genomics, personalized medicine, etc), and “deep-tech” areas.
Wireframe Ventures is technology agnostic but thematically focused. To date, Wireframe has invested in electrification of transportation, agriculture, sustainable consumer goods, circular economy, renewables, manufacturing, energy, computational biology and synthetic biology.
What type of portfolio support does your team provide?
Wireframe Ventures not only invests capital into startups they believe in, but they also get involved as an empathetic thought partner – Wireframe is flexible in whether it takes a board seat when investing because their relationship and primary engagement with teams are outside a formal board setting.
Wireframe wants to help early-stage founders with:
- Company building – product, partnerships and “boring but important stuff”
- Growing a team
- Follow on funding
- Networks of investors and potential customers
What are Wireframe Ventures’ investment process and timeline?
For pre-seed investments, the process usually takes 1-3 weeks. At this stage, Wireframe views the investment in the individual(s), rather than the startup itself, especially as the startup is pre-product and pre-revenue. As such, Wireframe values relationships with founders and recommends that founders reach out to start building that relationship sooner, rather than later. A couple of the pieces Wireframe thinks about when vetting a team include leadership (charisma, confidence, EQ, etc), founder market fit, and business/commercial instincts.
Wireframe’s process is about the same for seed-stage investments. The main thing that is different is that Wireframe assesses a team’s product capability by digging into market validation and potential to achieve product-market fit with a seed round.
What would make Wireframe Ventures consider deviating from their typical criteria?
Wireframe reserves 10% of its fund for investments outside of their typical thematic and stage criteria. These investments are typically in teams they’ve previously backed (Tensil) or to invest in solutions where they have deep expertise but may be just past seed (LevelTen Energy).
About The Author
Co-Founder at The Impact
Daniel currently works at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a Product Manager. Outside of his day job, he is a Principal at C3, Tech Scout at For ClimateTech, and Venture Scout at Prithvi. He also works with various climate incubators/accelerators (Cleantech Open, Techstars, and Joules Accelerator) and runs The Impact and Innovate Climate – both are newsletters covering startups in the climate space.