Another Turn of the Tandem Snowball

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Today we’re announcing the largest class of startups we’ve ever accepted at Tandem. This makes me think of a comment that Amazon’s Jeff Wilke once made to me about Tandem looking like Warren Buffett’s business in the early years when he gradually began to grow it, as documented in Alice Schoeder’s Snowball. While we have not quite achieved the lofty heights of a Berkshire Hathaway (yet!), I like to think of this latest class as yet another turn of the Tandem “snowball.”

In short, with our new fund in place alongside a deeper core team and a larger headquarters facility, we’re increasing the number of startups we invest in each quarter. We still look for stellar product teams from around the world who we can work with closely to find product-market fit, but now we can fortunately support more of them. We had been investing in 3 new companies per quarter, and our goal is to be backing 6 per quarter by the end of the year. This quarter we invested in 4 startups – a first step towards our next goal which will result in 12 active companies working inside Tandem at a time for a total of 24 per year (a typical startup works with Tandem closely for 6-months).

What’s driving this growth? Primarily, the success of the stellar teams we’ve backed to date. This year, Tandem-backed Playhaven merged with Kontagent to form the newly branded Upsight. They started with just two co-founders and took their first investment from Tandem several years ago. On the hardware side, both Tile and Cuff got off to roaring starts, and we’re getting even more active in that arena. Meanwhile, Bash Gaming was acquired by GSN after two astounding years of growth.

When mobile startup founders hear what these and other Tandem companies have done, it makes our job of attracting them that much easier. It also tends to draw in great people as investors, advisors and team members.

We’re now up to eight team members who support and help grow the companies within our Mobile Acceleration program. These professionals literally roll up their sleeves every day and work right alongside our companies. And I mean they literally work side-by-side, sharing workspace, desk space and even fridge space.

Bigger can also mean better. We’ve taken a careful approach to growth since the inception of Tandem, making sure a sufficient number of quality mobile teams are there to be found before ramping investment volume. We’re confident the pipeline is now indeed flush with talented teams, and it will be fantastic to see more founders working side-by-side with our partners and other startup teams. As this takes shape, the environment within Tandem will become even more electric than it’s been.

And with no further adieu, I’d like to introduce the four new Tandem companies:

Arbiter

This team hails from Las Vegas and came to Tandem from BoostVC. They offer a mobile app platform that supports in-app, real-money betting for skill-based games.

ShoeLovers

This is a team from Mexico City that applied to Tandem for three straight quarters before getting admitted after they completed the 500Startups program. They provide a social commerce service for women who love shoes.

Popslate

This Bay Area-based hardware team has built the world’s thinnest screen. The company started with an “always-on” screen embedded in a smartphone cover, and now Tandem is working with them to extend the screens to many other valuable form factors.

Caarbon

This Bay-Area team is building the Uber for valet parking. The service will provide a convenient service from trusted providers, all controlled simply from your smartphone.

Welcome to these new companies, and thanks to them for helping us build up that snowball. If you have a stellar product team working on a mobile business, we’re taking applications for the next group now. The deadline for applications is July 13. Apply now!

Doug Renert

Doug Renert is a partner at Tandem Capital, Silicon Valley's Mobile Acceleration Fund. You can find Doug on twitter @dougrenert.

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