Big ideas are expeditions into the unknown.
The first step is always the hardest. Even for the wealthiest investors and the largest corporations, the cutting edge of ignorance is a risky place – that’s why Spencer Trask syndicates risk.
Spencer Trask creates a unique group of shareholders for each venture. We are a dedicated group that shares the risk, the rewards, and the responsibility of building a new company. We have seen, time and time again, that a network of smart people can improve the chances of success for a new venture.
Our network consists of entrepreneurs and founders, CEOs, coaches, advisors, directors, corporate partners, and private investors, who all work together using Spencer Trask’s legacy as their inspiration. They breathe life into big ideas.
What’s your Big Idea?
If you have an idea that will change the world, we can help you.
Scientists and entrepreneurs partner with Spencer Trask because we provide the right combination of experience, guidance, and capital to protect and build on your idea. Working with advisors and private investors, we help you develop that idea into a world-leading company.
Turn Your Experience into Equity and Impact
Great CEOs use great Advisors. New ventures are led by passionate entrepreneurs who sometimes need advice, whether it be a voice of reason, or sometimes real help. Spencer Trask matches that need with experienced executives. Advisors can come on board and really make a difference, especially in the early stages of a company. Seeing the impact you can make can be very satisfying, both emotionally and financially.
Here is a story from one of our shareholders, Craig Jones:
When bacon slips into the fire, do you grab it with your bare hands? Or do you let it burn? Craig Jones had to make that decision with InnoCentive. Like bacon, startups can be slippery. When Spencer Trask approached Jones with InnoCentive, Craig was truly excited by the limitless potential of open innovation. His excitement turned into an investment. A year later, he put another toe in the water. As the company grew in revenues and reputation, he increased his position once again, this time requesting a seat on the Board of Directors. Since we respect his business judgment, Spencer Trask persuaded the co-founder, Alph Bingham to add Jones to the Board.
Then Craig starting asking some tough questions. “This is lovely, the hundred customers and all; but where’s the growth? How many new salesmen have we added? How are we paying them? What is their sales productivity? Why aren’t we generating positive cash flow?” The answers were not satisfactory to Craig.
When apprised of the situation, the Chairman of Spencer Trask suggested bringing in a new CEO. “I think our current executive has created a good base, but he’s stuck. We have to get someone else.” Within six months, Craig started a search for a replacement. InnoCentive’s CEO selection process narrowed down to one offer. While the company had several good alternative candidates, none were great, so Craig offered to run the company himself. No one asked him to do this. He took action on his own accord — out of concern and self-interest.
In his new role, Craig focused on employee morale first. Ironically, he improved morale by cutting the staff by 30%; the productive team members resented carrying the non-contributors. Then he zeroed in on the other elements of the InnoCentive network: (1.) the 100 corporate and philanthropic customers who rely on InnoCentive to solve tough technical problems; (2.) the 200 or so private investors; and (3.) the 250,000 problem solvers in the network.
With the turnaround underway, Craig launched a bridge funding. Other shareholders followed his lead.
By year-end, 2014 sales orders increased 27%. Employees, shareholders and the InnoCentive network were reassured. Craig’s grit and will power pushed the firm to profitability and positioned it for healthy growth.
Once he had right-sized the business, Craig focused on its potential. InnoCentive is all about using the mammoth reach of the Internet to connect talent with tough problems. It allows large and small organizations to innovate on a variable-cost basis. Reducing the cost of invention is not some bland slogan for InnoCentive. It is the heart of the proposition. As the acknowledged intellectual leader in collaborative innovation, Craig needed to turn InnoCentive into the global market leader.
Young companies need ‘doers,’ not conceptualization. A ‘wake-up and shake-up artist’ like Craig can make all the difference. Most anything can be fixed. The question boils down to: How much effort will it take? How much time? And with what resources? Business-like executive investors get answers to questions like these. Then they take action.
That’s why we encourage engaged shareholders – true shareholders, like Craig Jones – who improve the odds of success for themselves…and for everyone else.
Optimize Return on Capital
Corporate partners can scale a young venture. They are an important part of the Spencer Trask Network.
Blue-chip corporations that have collaborated or invested directly in a Spencer Trask venture include IBM, General Instruments, SAP, Pfizer, Manpower, Lockheed Martin, Cisco, P&G, Motorola, Oracle, and Schering-Plough.
The Net Worth Network
We connect ideas, people and capital to create new ventures with the potential for major impact. Most startups require capital. Some seek to find this through corporate partners, some seek venture capital, and some want a diverse group of high net worth shareholders. Some just need a helping hand. Whatever the need, we are there.
High Net Worth Investors
Successful executives and angel investors have helped launch some of the most innovative companies of the technology revolution: think Google, Facebook, Apple and Ciena. Angel investors like Facebook’s Peter Theil and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn are heroes of the startup world, because they leveraged their networks and their capital to help others entrepreneurs get started.
Spencer Trask Ventures, Inc. (STVI), our brokerage affiliate, can help you bring something new and important to the world. Making a dollar and making a difference can give you enormous satisfaction.
“…this investment in Precyse brings to fruition a four year search for an outstanding business venture in which I could find active involvement.”- –
– Russ Chandler, who brought the Olympic Games to Atlanta after he built a major wireless leader and a hospital chain group.
Venture Capital Firms
Venture capital firms consider Spencer Trask a reliable resource of investment opportunities. Venture investors justify allocating a portion of an institutional portfolio to high-risk, high-return private investments to generate alpha because they know that if a new venture works out, returns can be extraordinary.
New ventures are not for the faint-of-heart. Failure is an option. Despite our valiant efforts, ventures go bust. If that happens, take the tax write-off and move on. Win or lose, we take comfort in the belief that making new products and creating jobs is about the most noble and rewarding thing you can do.
In order to reduce new venture risk, we build networks of shareholders, advisors and coaches who become part of the creation process. We have seen time and again that smart, engaged investors can identify and fix problems.
The bottom line? No one can guarantee a financial return in the venture business. However, Spencer Trask can guarantee one thing: with us, you will find ideas and people that you won’t find anywhere else. The power of any network is a function of the quality and number of engaged people within it. That’s why we are inviting you to join us.
“… it became a personal challenge for me to resume the pursuit of that goal by leading startup Prescient Medical.”
– Marv Woodall, President of Johnson & Johnson Interventional Systems, who launched the coronary stent – one of the most successful medical devices ever. InVivo Magazine