The venture capital market may still be trying to sort itself out, yet venture capital firms remain optimistic in closing new funds.
Ubiquity Ventures is the latest firm, securing another $75 million in capital commitments for its third fund. Sunil Nagaraj is the solo general partner at Ubiquity, having started the firm in 2017 and closed his debut fund of $30 million in 2018. He then raised $51 million in 2020 for Fund II.
Nagaraj, who was previously with Bessemer Venture Partners for six years, says he has “the power of being nerdy and early,” which is what led to his 2014 seed investment in Auth0 while at that firm. The company eventually exited in a $5.6 billion deal to Okta.
He also said there has to be a delicate balance between mainstream SaaS, deep tech and off-the-deep-end moonshots.
“Those are the two ends of the spectrum,” he said. “The danger is that once you do something outside the norm, you can go too far off the norm.”
He focuses on early-stage startups creating “software beyond the screen,” which he describes as the trend of having no screens, meaning using software to navigate, perceive, understand and control the real physical world. In other words, it can become “ubiquitous.”
“This is something I would love for the whole tech community to embrace more of,” Nagaraj told TechCrunch. “It’s the biggest idea that’s not being exploited right now.”
Investments include companies like Croptide, a company developing a “smartwatch” for plants that reads a plant’s status from its stem; Halter, a way to control cows from your smartphone; Loft Orbital, a satellite-as-a-service company; and Revi, which makes kiosks and online ordering services for restaurants.
He has already made four investments from the new fund and plans to make about 20 overall, writing about $1 to $2 million for a seed round and reserving the same for the subsequent Series A. And Nagaraj takes a board seat, which he joked that many of his peers find odd at the seed stage.
Three months ago, he created Ubiquity University, a series of educational videos for seed-stage entrepreneurs. For example, how to set up your first board meeting, your first financial model and how to build a cap table.
“I’ve done about half of them myself,” Nagaraj said. “I’m continuing to add to this as a free resource for the world. It’s based on some of my pet peeves — entrepreneurs have been pitching like 100 times with different VCs. So what do they do at the first meeting? Pitch. You already have my money, you don’t need to sell me anymore.”