Excel Venture Management, Starting With Clean Slate, Shows Early Returns on Broad Vision

1/13/10Follow @xconomy

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of being a relatively new venture fund. It means that a lot of your investments haven’t been around long enough to hit many serious rough patches. That’s one of the great differentiating factors that’s been in Excel’s favor the past year. Because it hasn’t been around for very long means it doesn’t have to carry around a lot of baggage. It doesn’t have old portfolio companies that need to be continually propped up with rounds of capital.

“We’re not spending our time with companies that have financing problems. We’re able to look forward,” Gullans says.

Those kind of headaches at traditional VC firms—and their associated worries about whether they will be able to raise new funds anytime soon—has created an opportunity for a young firm like Excel, Gullans says. Not having to worry as much about those issues means it can spend more time looking at exciting investments in their earliest stages, Gullans says. And, naturally, the new ideas aren’t commanding the high valuations they might have a few years back.

It might sound naïvely optimistic to investors who have been burned before by pursuing the next big thing, but Gullans says the early-stage, big-idea, platform approach is finding an audience with the people who matter most—the limited partners at pension funds and endowments who provide VCs with their capital.

“Our approach of looking for breakthrough technology and finding a route to the market for it is encouraging to the LPs,” Gullans says. “It’s really been very refreshing. We’re finding very exciting opportunities to invest in.”

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