What is indie.vc

I wasn’t planning to write this post.

My plan was to send a private email to a few friends that they could share with a few of their friends.

And I did that.

On Jan 1 I sent the following note to a handful of people I’d discussed this idea with in the past:

Finally put the site up @ indie.vc

Not planning to make a bunch of noise publicly but feel free to share with anyone you think is a fit or could help get the word out. 

If we find 8 companies we’re excited about it’s a go!

Happy New Year and thanks for all your feedback and guidance so far…Bryce
My hope was that these friends and their friends would lead to dozens of applications from which we’d pick 8 companies to participate in our little project. I didn’t expect much to happen during the holidays. I didn’t even bother turning off my ridiculous out of office message.

3 days after sending that note, and without personally talking about what we’re doing, we have over 100 applications.

Given the sparse information on the landing page and very little public information available, my fear is that many are viewing our little project through their own lens and seeing what they “want” to see. Which is wonderful and flattering.

But, as the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

So, I’m writing this post to provide a little clarity on indie.vc. What it is. What it isn’t. And what we’re trying to learn from it.

Let’s start with what it isn’t.

It is not a small business loan program. 

It is not an accelerator, incubator or any other type of ator. 

It is not a new VC fund. 

It is not a non-profit or “impact” investment vehicle. 

All of which are wonderful. And have their place. They’re just not us.

So, then, what is indie.vc?

indie.vc is a test, an entrepreneurial experiment. 

Currently the mainstream startup narrative is owned by VC backed startups who’s success and ambition are often measured by the amount of capital they’ve raise. That’s a fine narrative, but not the only one.
VC funding can great for some companies, but it comes with a certain set of expectations that have an impact on everything from business model to company culture. VC backed startups, by design, are on a different timeline with a different measure of success for all involved. Those are fine expectations and outcomes, but not the only ones.
My partner Tim bootstrapped his business to 9 figures in revenue without taking any outside investment. Our sense that there’s a cultural shift towards taking little to no VC investment, staying independent longer (or indefinitely) without sacrificing the ambition for building large, profitable and impactful businesses. We’re seeing more and more of these businesses hit our radar every day, and we’ve wanted to find a ways to foster that independent ideal and DIY ethic.
indie.vc is designed to test whether that sense we have is real.
Can we provide the resources and networks founders would traditionally get taking VC money, without all the expectations and baggage that come with it? Would an early focus on cashflow and sustainability v. fundable milestones stunt growth or lay the foundation for a more scalable long-term culture? Is it possible to maintain and independent attitude and ethos with an outside investor on your cap table? And could these types of companies compete, and win, against their traditionally VC funded peers? 

We *think* the answer is yes, but it may not be and we’re open to that outcome too. Which is why this is a test.

Not a manifesto.

Not a movement.

A test.

We’re running this as test within OATV. We’ve allocated cash to make 8 $100k investments with a significant reserve of capital for participating companies. 

There is no specific participant profile, as we’d like to see where there is demand for this type of thing, but we think those that who leverage the scale and distribution of the internet are going to be more interesting to us than food trucks or brick and mortar businesses. 

We’re unlikely to accept anyone who doesn’t have a prototype. Launched products would be even better. And revenue better still. 

Given that profile, participants would not be expected to pick up and move to San Francisco or a central locale be involved. Tho we plan to have some in person time required, much of the program content and network is designed to be distributed and online. 

Hopefully this provides a bit more backstory and helps fill in some of holes around what was posted at indie.vc. I will write more here as this thing evolves and as broader questions arise.

If you’re interested in being a part the program, you can apply here.

If you’re interested in being a part of the conversation or have specific questions, you can request to join our Slack channel by emailing us here.