This week, we will study what Jumpstart is. Launched in 2004, this non for profit intermediary organisation helps startups by providing pre-seed funding, developing angel networks, and connections for follow-on funding. They also provide technical and mentoring assistance.
All of this takes a lot of resources, and Jumpstart so far has collected some $75 million.
Jumpstart and ecosystem building as “an artificial reef”
Laura Bennett, of Embrace Pet Insurance, was the first ever receiver of funds from Jumpstart. She moved in Cleveland in 2004 and says “there was nothing here, no angel funds, no accelerators”. Over the last 10 years, it has changed a lot.
Jumpstart was designed to create the market itself, in order to attract investors. Government is not well suited to invest directly into ventures, so there was a need for an organisation between the ideation and research stage and the marketplace stage.
An intermediary organisation can focus either on entrepreneurship, and/or on specific industries, such as biomedical or manufacturing in the Cleveland area.
In 10 years, Jumpstart has invested about $37 million in about 76startups at a seed stage. It is also built as an “evergreen”: all earnings from the investments are used to invest again in a new series of ventures. Budget-wise, the initial $30 million of Jumpstart have been provided 60% by the public sector, and 40% by private donors.
What KPIs for tech ecosystem builders? From exits to job creation
Exits are a key metric, but not only. Return on investment, follow-on capital when a startup manages to go to series A, revenue generation or job creation are other KPIs to assess the performance of this ecosystem-building activity.
When it comes to the day-to-day support, Jumpstart has for instance come with Embrace Pet Insurance in London to help them strike a first deal with a big insurance company, and helped another venture to change its board.
Other intermediary organisations can be found pretty much everywhere. Endeavor is one of them, with a network to help mentor, fund and grow high-impact entrepreneurs across the world, from Argentina to Singapore.
Ray Leach, the CEO of Jumpstart, adds that the organisation has also evolved. It was designed primarily as an NGO helping other to reach business goals, such as company formation. In a way, “it’s like an artificial reef”: Jumpstart is an artificial construct which helps the ecosystem to grow again.
Now, the government has asked Jumpstart to look for other, sustainable ways to get funds, and the organisation is for instance selling consulting services to other communities to try to replicate their own success story. A new for-profit fund is also in the making.
Next topic: Universities!