The latest venture fund to set up a separate seed financing program is Boston-based Spark Capital, a prolific investor in Internet and new media companies such as Twitter, Boxee, Tumblr, Veoh and KickApps. The initiative is dubbed Start@Spark, and is primarily geared towards startups from the Boston and New York areas.
Early-stage investments will amount up to $250,000, and will not be restricted to information technology companies but also periodically be granted to startups offering financial or educational services. Entrepreneurs who get into the program will have access to Spark’s partner network and legal counsel, and will also be prepared for a second, more formal round of funding at a later stage if progress is deemed satisfactory by the firm. You can apply here.
This is not the first program of this type we’ve seen. In fact, it seems like they’re popping up all over the place, conceivably thanks to independent initatives like Y Combinator and TechStars who’ve paved the way. Charles River Ventures debuted its “QuickStart” program back in November 2006, Sequoia simply invested $2 million of its own fund into Y Combinator to give them more runway, and other firms have set up platform-specific seeding funds in the past (e.g. Kleiner Perkins’ iFund and Bay Partners’ Facebook-apps only fund).
We should probably note Spark Capital in fact a partner to TechStars, and General Partner Bijan Sabet is listed as a mentor for the seed program, but undoubtedly they’ll be competing for the same investment sooner rather than later.