Dec 18, 2019
Rene Lacarte rang the NYSE opening bell as Bill.com went public on Thursday (NYSE: BILL), raising $216MM at a $1.6Bn valuation. Finally… some good news for tech companies looking at an IPO. The stock opened at $22 but ran up to $37 by the end of the day. In one day, the market cap jumped to $2.6Bn and has stayed there ever since. It’s by far one of the rosiest IPOs of late.
Madeleine and I are honored to be counted as one of the early investors.
Bill.com is a provider of cloud-based software that simplifies and automates back-office financial operations. The company caters to the over 24 million small- and medium-sized businesses in the US and sees considerable market opportunity in migrating these companies to software that can replace time-consuming, manual processes for handling things like invoicing and accounts payable. Roughly 90% of these businesses use checks to manage their back offices, even though few people use checks often in their personal lives, indicating an opportunity to deliver a better experience for businesses.
Madeleine and my journey with the company started in 2013 as investors through our previous firm, West Capital. When we invested in Bill.com it was pretty early. The round was technically a “Series E”, but the company was very early in terms of revenue and was losing twice that amount. Scale Venture Partners led the round and brought in several strategics like us.
The decision to invest was clear. Bill.com hit all the major points on the scorecard. The team, led by Rene Lacarte, was incredible. Rene was a serial entrepreneur who sold his first company, PayCycle, to Intuit for $170MM — meaning domain expertise, channel expertise, and a previous exit. The rest of the team had a depth of experience building and scaling early stage venture backed companies. The value proposition was huge: a way to seamlessly manage the time consuming chore of Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. The total addressable market — over $100Bn in size. We liked the investor mix: existing investors like DCM, lead investor Scale Venture Partners, and new co-investors — big banks who would help the company gain access to its target 24 million small business customers directly and through accounting firms at a lower customer acquisition cost.
The valuation was high — we were really paying up for the opportunity — so we had modeled our return based on a 2.7x. At the current stock price, this represents a 20x for investors over 6 a year period.
Today, the company has over $100MM in revenue and counts over 4,000 accounting firms as clients — and they are just getting started.
And so are we.
Elizabeth Edwards was recently honored as one of the “Women Who Mean Business” by the Business Courier, along with Sarah Anderson of Cintrifuse, Kelly Downing of Bartlett, and 7 other honorees.
This gave us an opportunity to share why early consumer is so compelling — and our unique perspective. View the video here.
On the heels of H Venture Partners I, the firm launched a new fund, the H Venture Partners Brand Fund, which is designed to give individual investors access to venture capital at a $50,000 minimum and the flexibility to invest through an IRA. Fund limited to accredited investors. Find out more: www.h.ventures/invest
Relatively little venture capital is invested in the consumer sector, despite the fact that consumer represents 20% of US GDP.
The eight early stage funds that exclusively focus on the consumer sector outperformed the US venture asset class by 7%.
While investing at the edge of the tech horizon can be seductive, the everyday essentials in the consumer sector represent big markets, high growth rates, and multiple pathways to liquidity. Brands like Peloton, Dollar Shave Club, Stitch Fix, Seventh Generation, and Casper are just a few examples of venture-backed consumer brands that are scaling like tech companies. (Sources: BLS, PitchBook data 2007–2017)
Private equity is a homogeneous industry where only 6%-10% of investment decision makers are female. At the same time, 85% of consumer purchases are made by women.
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First-time funds may have an advantage over well-known firms. According to a new Preqin Report, which evaluated fund performance of early stage funds over a 15 year period, first-time funds outperformed their established peers by 12%, achieving a 25% median net internal rate of return (IRR) versus a 12% median net IRR for established funds.
Intangible assets are the new hidden wealth: Brand equity is a critical value driver for emerging consumer companies. Today, 84% of the value of the S&P 500 is in intangible assets, up from 32% in 1985. We believe in accelerating brand equity to amplify investment returns.