Dave Balter Joins Nicole Stata’s Boston Seed Capital as VC Fund Ramps Up
The Boston ecosystem for tech startup investing just got a little more active. Boston Seed Capital said today it has hired Dave Balter, the CEO of BzzAgent, as a venture advisor (see photo, right).
Balter joins Peter Blacklow from Worldwinner, now executive vice president of digital for GSN, as a top advisor to the fund. Both are keeping their current roles in their respective companies as well.
Boston Seed Capital is run by Nicole Stata, the founder and former CEO of human-resources software firm Deploy Solutions, which she led for 11 years before its sale to Kronos in 2007. (If there’s one thing you get from this article, please learn how to pronounce Stata correctly: “STAY-ta.” Yes, she comes from a famous family.)
Boston Seed, which has offices in Newton, MA, is an early-stage investment firm that is about a year old. It invested in eight startups in its first year—most recently, Shareaholic, FitnessKeeper, and Relive (just last week). Other investments include Krush, Yottaa, EverTrue, Kinvey, peerTransfer, and Smarterer. Most of its startups are based around Boston, though Stata says, “We invest from Boston to pretty much anywhere.”
Stata (see photo, left) declined to give specifics about the size of her fund or how much she’ll invest in a typical startup. She did say she’s looking at seed-stage to Series A investments, is testing “the micro-venture model” while “keeping as close as possible to a traditional venture fund,” and is “eager to work with [other] venture firms.” In terms of sectors, Stata says Boston Seed focuses on “enabling platforms for Internet, mobile, and data.”
There is a question of how Boston Seed will differentiate itself from other local micro-VC funds such as NextView Ventures and Project 11 (not to mention angel groups). Stata herself has expertise in software as a service, human capital management, and business software. Blacklow brings plenty of gaming and marketing know-how. And the addition of Balter brings more leadership in marketing, social media, and company-building, as well as more contacts with entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders.
Indeed, the point of bringing in Balter is to provide “existing CEO feedback” to startups, says Stata. “It’s something I wish I had done when I was running Deploy,” she says. (Balter’s company, BzzAgent, is owned by Tesco/Dunnhumby after an acquisition earlier this year.)
So why does Stata want to do venture capital now, instead of starting another company herself? At Deploy, she says, “I was heads down, and quite myopic in my field. I wasn’t good enough at looking around at what was happening. I wanted to understand, what does the world look like today and where is it going?” As an investor, she says, “I can help a lot of companies instead of just one. That’s a big motivator.”
That brings her back to Boston Seed’s essence. “We really want to help startups,” she says. “That’s the reputation we want to get. We have to earn it.”