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Introducing MKT1 Capital
MKT1 Capital is a $10M early-stage B2B fund, investing capital and hands-on marketing help
When we aren’t newsletter-ing, we’re managing a fund. So, we interrupt our regular marketing posts to tell you a bit more about MKT1 Capital. If you are a marketer looking to get into investing, this one is especially for you. (But so as not to disrupt or self-promote too much this announcement was just posted and never emailed to our subscriber list)
If you build it, they will not come
The best products don’t always win. The best teams don’t always win. And even great founding teams, with great products, in huge markets don’t always win.
A great product, team, and market have become table stakes requirements for startups to succeed. Marketing is now the differentiator.
But most founders and investors don’t have marketing expertise. That’s where MKT1 Capital comes in.
MKT1 Capital is an early-stage B2B fund started by former marketing leaders Emily Kramer (Asana, Carta) and Kathleen Estreich (Box, Intercom, Scalyr). We invest value-add checks in startups with “go-to-market viability” across industries. We’ve raised nearly $5M in our first tranche in early 2022 and just started raising our 2nd tranche with a target fund size of $10M. We’ve invested in 14 startups over the last year including Anrok, Pocus, Plain, and Vori.
Our fund is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and Atacama Ventures; GPs including Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures), Andy McLoughlin (Uncork Capital), Adam Nelson (FirstMark), Jonathan Heiliger (Vertex Ventures), Avichal Garg (Electric Capital), Niv Dror (Deploy Capital & Shrug Capital), plus founders, operators, and 50+ marketers with leadership experience at B2B companies including Airtable, Alloy, AngelList, Asana, Atlassian, Box, Carta, Dropbox, Flexport, Glassdoor, Oyster, Plaid, Slack, Splunk, Wealthfront, & Webflow.
Building MKT1 Capital
From Marketing Execs to Advisors & Angels to Fund Managers
3 years ago, we both left our marketing leadership roles and found ourselves at inflection points in our careers. We started advising startups and angel investing together. Working with over 75 startups, we realized our observations as marketing executives were even more prevalent than we thought:
Lack of support: Inside companies, startup marketing gets a bad rap. Startup marketing leaders don’t get the support they need and have shorter tenures than other execs.
Marketing hiring mistakes: Founders repeatedly hire the wrong first marketer for their business model, audience, and stage because they don’t know what to look for. Founders seek advice here, but not always in the right places.
No marketing investors: Marketers invest significantly less compared to other functions (product, engineering, and even sales leaders)—fewer than 1% of angel investors on Crunchbase are marketers.
Despite this, we’d observed the outsized impact marketing can have on a startup’s success.
We started MKT1 Capital because the investor plus marketer skillset is sorely missing in the ecosystem, yet highly valuable to startups and highly in demand. We are uniquely positioned to fix this.
Our goals for MKT1 Capital
Here’s what we aim to achieve with MKT1 Capital:
Produce outsized returns for our Limited Partners by helping startups succeed at marketing: Startups that excel at marketing outperform. We identify companies with GTM (Go-to-market) viability and help them uplevel and accelerate their marketing efforts.
Advocate for and educate about marketing: Through our content, courses, community, and direct mentorship for portfolio company founders and marketers, we hope to give teams the marketing guidance they need to achieve great outcomes.
Bring more marketers into the MKT1 community: We want more marketers on cap tables. We believe marketers, founders, and other investors all benefit when more marketers invest and help startups.
Investing with a marketer’s lens
We of course evaluate the founders, team, product, business model, market dynamics and size, and potential for outsized returns when investing. But we also look for go-to-market (GTM) viability, including marketing advantages, which are typically overlooked by investors.
What is GTM Viability?
GTM viability is how we describe the potential for a startup to win on distribution, growth, and brand. To have go-to-market viability, a startup needs to have:
Founders who approach marketing as a strategic lever, not as a service organization to sales. We look for founders who value and enable marketing.
Go-to-market skillsets & storytelling ability. We invest in founders with a demonstrated ability to hire non-technical talent and tell their story effectively.
Built-in marketing advantages. We look for dynamics in the business, product, or market that can inherently drive growth.
The power of marketing advantages
Companies that have at least one marketing advantage—and build their strategy around these advantages—outperform. All high-growth startups have these dynamics (diagram below). We focus on helping startups identify and accelerate as many marketing advantages as possible.
For more on marketing advantages and how to use them to shape your marketing strategy, check out today’s other newsletter.
We know how to help marketers work with founders, and how to help founders work with marketers. Over the past few years, we’ve built a community, content, and courses to help scale these efforts and teach operators how to build high-impact marketing functions.
Our community also creates a flywheel that enables us to scale our deal flow, get into competitive rounds, and support more startups and marketers.
Limited partners: The center of our community
We’re looking for LPs who align with our thesis to invest in MKT1 Capital, Fund I. You’d join an intentionally unique LP base:
Over 50 of our LPs are marketers (so far). Our Marketer LPs help support our portfolio companies. We have a lower minimum check size for marketer investors, as we are focused on enabling marketers to participate in this ecosystem.
Nearly 20% of our LPs are first-time investors in funds and/or startups. We’d love to produce great returns for a different cast of characters.
We aim to raise money from LPs and invest in founders who want to drive positive industry change and actively prioritize DEI. While we don’t have a diversity target, we pass on companies and LPs who don’t reflect these values—and over 50% of the startups we’ve invested in have diverse founding teams.