Sorenson Ventures may not be a household name, but the Lehi, Utah-based firm has quietly backed 30 enterprise startups since 2017 when it launched its initial $100 million fund, some exiting via acquisition and some sporting flashy valuations. Today, the company announced that it has raised its second fund, this one around $150 million.
Company co-founder and partner Rob Rueckert said he and co-founder Ken Elefant each brought more than 15 years of investing experience when they launched the firm five years ago. Rueckert came from Intel Capital, while Elefant had stints at Lightspeed Venture Partners and Battery Ventures. Both were focused on B2B companies, and Rueckert sees that experience as a key differentiator for his firm.
The company looks at early-stage enterprise startups and tends to write small checks in the $3 million to $5 million range. Rueckert said that is unusual for a firm his size.
“This is a $150 million fund, the prior one was just a little over $100 million. That’s a little bit unique for a seed and Series A-focused investment fund, only because those funds that have traditionally been really great at that stage are now billion-dollar funds,” he said.
He also pointed out that it’s harder for those larger funds, which are typically writing much bigger checks, to make the math work when it comes to checks in his firm’s range. What’s more, he said his firm takes a more hands-on approach with startups. “There’s a lot of hard work to get a company from pre-revenue or early revenue to really rolling, and we embrace that work,” he said.
“So we do a lot of the old-fashioned roll-up-your-sleeves work with the firm, helping them find their first customers, helping them find that go-to-market motion, and figuring out the product-market fit,” he added.
Rueckert acknowledged that approach requires a lot of heavy lifting, but it makes sense for their kind of fund. “A heavy lift only makes sense if it’s a material part of your fund. So we intentionally tried to keep the fund to a target size where that kind of investment is material for us,” he said.
The approach seems to be working, with six exits from the first fund, including Bridgecrew, which was acquired by Palo Alto Networks for $156 million; CloudKnox, which was acquired by Microsoft; and Openpath, which was acquired by Motorola. All three exits happened last year.
Other portfolio companies include Socure, an identity verification company that raised $450 million in November on an impressive $4.5 billion valuation, and CyCognito, an attack surface management startup that raised $100 million at the end of last year with an $800 million valuation.
While the new fund is being announced publicly today, they actually closed it last year and have already begun putting the capital to work in a new round of startups. The company is a division of Sorenson Capital, which invests in later-stage companies.