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Garrett Camp's VC fund is breaking all the rules with a new accelerator for fledging founders. Here's how its different.

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 15 Jul 2021


<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/60ef5900a8d8c00019b0343c-2400/2019-05-10t153224z_255491457_rc1f3d1cffc0_rtrmadp_3_uber-ipo.jpg" border="0" alt="Uber IPO Dara Khosrowshahi and Garrett Camp" data-mce-source="Reuters/Brendan McDermid" data-mce-caption="Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and co-founder Garrett Camp take a selfie photograph on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company's IPO in New York."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>When the billionaire cofounder of Uber, Garrett Camp, started his early-stage venture firm <a href="https://www.expa.com/">Expa</a> in 2014, he had a very specific purpose in mind.</p><p>"He created the firm to be what he wish existed when he was building Uber, a VC that really put the founder first, and takes this hands-on approach to building cool products that can potentially change the world," said Lisa Besserman, Expa's managing director.&nbsp;</p><p>Expa's approach seems to be working, with 81% of its seed investments going on to raise a series A round. Those include Current, a banking app now worth $2.2 billion and <a href="https://www.expa.com/companies/convoy">Convoy</a>, a digital freight network worth $2.75 billion, according to Pitchbook.</p><p>Hoping to find its next batch of breakouts Expa announced Thursday it is launching <a href="https://www.expa.com/accelerator">a revamped accelerator program</a> to offer 15 pre-seed startups at a time the chance to get one-on-one mentoring and checks of up to $400,000.</p><p>Unlike its previous accelerator in 2017, founders do not have to travel to New York. They can join from anywhere.</p><p>"The world has changed and we're changing with it," said Besserman. "Talent is everywhere and people should have opportunities to receive funding and receive support, regardless if they're in a tier one venture city or not."</p><p>Proximity has traditionally been a key ingredient of acceleratorswith founders and mentors huddled around whiteboards and going out for boozy networking dinners. Expa's team acknowledges the effectiveness of their remote approach still has to be seen, particularly when they are putting such a large emphasis on one-on-one coaching.</p><p>"To be honest I think we will see sort of how it works," said Roberto Sanabria, Expa's co-founder and COO. "I really like to get involved with the companies that I get to work with and I do think that's going to be a little bit of a challenge."</p><p>Another change is that Expa is now accepting ideas on a rolling basis. With a strict yearly deadline before, Expa realized it may have been missing out on great ideas that did not conform to its schedule.</p><p>"If you have an idea in October and you want to start working on it, but you have to wait until May to apply to the program, that's not going to work," Sanabria said.&nbsp;</p><p>Expa also wants to differentiate itself by not limiting its partners involvement to a certain length of time.&nbsp;</p><p>"The example I give is if a baby gets put in an incubator at a hospital, the doctor doesn't say, 'We're going to give your baby two weeks," Sanabria said. "The baby stays in the incubator until it's ready to come out."</p><p>Expa's involvement will not come cheap. Like most accelerators, it takes a substantial chunk of equitya 7% stake for a $250,000 check or 10% stake for $400,000. (The average pre-seed startup now raises a hefty $500,188 <a href="https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/6191183/The%20Pre-Seed%20Round%20Defined.pdf">according to Crunchbase.</a>)&nbsp;</p><p>Camp himself, <a href="https://www.forbes.com/profile/garrett-camp/'sh=171618e87b89">worth $3.9 billion according to Forbes,</a> will still mostly be focused on the firm's larger investments and Expa did not make him available for this story. He almost never speaks to the press.</p><p>"He obviously went through a lot with whole Uber experience and for the most part he's a pretty private guy," Sanabria said.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/garrett-camp-launches-accelerator-to-be-what-he-wish-he-had-at-uber#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/bpa-plastic-containers-bad-health-risks-obesity-heart-disease-diabetes-2019-2">Why I'm throwing away every plastic thing in my kitchen ASAP</a></p>
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