Business Success

PhillyTech Company Profile # 1 – First Round Capital & Josh Kopelman - “Why Your Business Advocate Community is Vitally Important To Your Success.â€

PhillyTech Company Profile # 1 – First Round Capital & Josh Kopelman - “Why Your Business Advocate Community is Vitally Important To Your Success.â€

First Round Capital

1/13/2015 - PhillyTech Company Profile # 1 – First Round Capital & Josh Kopelman - “Why Your Business Advocate Community is Vitally Important To Your Success.†- By Michael C. Bertoni – Founder & CTO – PhillyTech.Co - #1 Resource for Tech, Digital & Social Selling

PhillyTech.Co profiles a different Philly Tech company each week. This week, we’re profiling First Round Capital, the seed-stage venture firm making Philly’s tech scene proud on a national stage.

First Round Capital is headquartered on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School in Philadelphia and has satellite offices in New York and San Francisco. One of the largest early stage venture capital firms in the country, First Round ranked 7th in Entrepreneur Magazine’s VC 100 Index. The firm has invested more than $440 million dollars in 57 technology companies in 2013.

First Round was founded in 2004 by serial entrepreneur Josh Kopelman. In 1992, while still a sophomore at Wharton, Kopelman founded Infonautics in Wayne, Pennsylvania. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. In 1999, Kopelman founded which was sold to Ebay in 2000, and in 2004, founded TurnTide that was acquired by Symantec that same year.

With just a shoe string marketing budget, Kopelman spread the word about in really unusual ways, including naming a town and placing urinal screens in sporting stadiums. (Don’t ever complain about not having money to market your business!)

In just 13 years Kopelman founded and sold 3 companies and built a winning formula for startup and early exit success. It was time to take his model to the venture capital market and turn that industry on its head. In 2004, when First Round Capital was founded, not many venture capital firms were investing in early stage companies. Many thought that the risks were too high. Kopelman recognized that the costs to start a technology company had decreased dramatically since 2000 and that First Round had the opportunity to dominate a space that many investors weren’t thinking about.

Kopleman has built a strong team of investment partners, platform, operations, finance and administrative staff that have decades of experience and work from the Philadelphia, New York or San Francisco. Here are the investment partners with links to their competency areas:


Bill Trenchard     Chris Fralic      Howard Morgan    Josh Kopelman    Phin Barnes    Rob Hayes    Wiley Cerilli   CeCe Cheng

First Round’s winning formula for start-up success has a few core attributes:

  • The companies that they invest in must have a strong leadership team with a clear vision.
  • The technology product must have a large market with dramatic growth potential.
  • After being chosen as investable by the First Round Team, they help create a dynamic community for the entrepreneurs by connecting them with tech, resources and community they need to be successful on day 1.

First Round has essentially built an incubation model into their investment strategy by providing all the people, process and tools necessary for the startup to be successful. No time or thought has to go into what is needed to be successful because it is already there and First Round already knows how to course-correct if the company starts to go off the rails.

The value of this “Business Advocate Community†or private social network that First Round gives to the tech startup is dramatic. It is something that we can all learn from in the business community. Every business owner has the opportunity to build a business advocate community of colleagues, business partners, family, and friends that all want to help you succeed. Once you’ve established this community, it becomes easy to get questions answered, find information and benefit from others’ expertise.

Kopelman’s success comes from sticking to his winning model, improving upon it year after year, and building a strong team. By doing these things, Kopelman has invested in more than 250 companies, of which 52 have sold, since 2004. He’s also provided significant return to investors with the sales of StumbleUpon and to eBay for $75 million and to Intuit for $170 million, respectively.

I can’t wait to see what Kopelman has in store for the next 10 years.

  • In his first 13 years he founded 3 companies and sold 3. (average 1 every 4.33 years)
  • In his next 11 years he invested in over 250 companies and sold 52. (Average 23 a year / 28%)
  • PREDICTION: In the next 10 years he will invest in 650 and sell 214 (Average 65 a year / 33%)

Michael C. Bertoni – Founder & CTO – PhillyTech.Co - # 1 Resource for Tech, Digital & Social Selling

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