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Let a 1000 startups bloom...

Via the usual sources, I learnt about Charles River Ventures Quickstart program. The idea is simple: provide seed funding for a lot of small startups. Its not a bad idea: it's been done before. Y!Combinator has been the best example of this most recently. They provide amounts in the few thousands, generally to college kids along with some basic resources for generally a 5% stake in the company.
This portfolio approach seems to have worked pretty well for them so far.

This program is a similar idea, but different in that they're providing amounts to the tune of $250K as seed funding to startups. Here's the problem: this role is typically taken on by angel investors, and has been taken on by angel investors for ages. VCs typically come in a little later with larger investments and more (warning: b-school phrase coming) "value-add."

Michael Arrington has a theory that given the low capital requirements and increasingly quick turnarounds of Web 2.0 startups, VCs will be at a disadvantage compared to angel investors, who will increasingly reap larger rewards from these companies. So, this could be a play to encroach into that space. You could argue that by doing that they're giving up what they're best at (i.e. focusing on a small number of companies and making a real difference based on their skillsets); alternatively you could believe that they're bringing their skills to a larger market, where they're still very useful. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out...


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