August raises $8M for its smart lock

August, a smart lock company that hopes to launch its product in the spring has raised $8 million in first round capital led by Maveron. But are such locks ready for prime time?

Maveron Casting for Consumer Investments in SF

Though there’s no lack of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, you can count one more. Maveron this week announced it is opening a San Francisco office, headed by partner Amy Errett, the former CEO of who joined Maveron as an entrepreneur in residence two years ago.
Errett (a fly-fishing enthusiast, as pictured) told us that Maveron differentiates itself because it will only fund consumer-focused businesses, and it spans the range of seed to late-stage investments. With portfolio companies such as kids’ browser KidZui, language education site Livemocha and online college enabler Altius Education, Errett said her two main areas of focus are “web-enabled consumer services — classically things consumers did offline — and online education.” Read More about Maveron Casting for Consumer Investments in SF

DEMO: For Entrepreneurs, Some Guidance

Given that IPOs are hard to come by these day, VCs are spending more time focusing on strategic buyers, according to Eric Tilenius, a newly minted partner at Maveron Venture, who spoke at the DEMO conference in San Diego on Tuesday.

That, of course, changes the way venture firms evaluate startups, looking for technologies that might be of interest to a large number of acquirers, rather than a business that can achieve a market cap of $500 million on Wall Street. It also could lower valuations for startups because many strategic buyers (especially without the threat of losing a company to the public market) will likely pay lower prices. The two exit scenarios aren’t mutually exclusive, but VCs sure act like they are when the subject is brought up.

The more experienced VCs quickly jumped in after Tilenius’s comments with the familiar “we invest in innovation and for the long haul” tripe, and they clearly didn’t like moderator Matt Marshall’s suggestions that they were flipping companies. But let’s be real, when we’re in the longest IPO drought in 30 years, at least according to NEA General Partner Krishna, ‘Kittu’ Kolluri, the need to provide investors in the fund with returns means that investors can’t look just for home runs.

The end result for an entrepreneur seeking capital is this: Make sure you can present a list of potential acquirers, an estimate of how long it will take to build a business that will attract interest from those acquirers and pricing on deals that might be used as comparisons. But you know how you wouldn’t compliment an acquaintance on a nose job? Well, you might not want to mention that your startup is an attractive M&A candidate rather than the next hot stock on the Nasdaq.