Why We Started Harvest Venture Partners
In the middle of the night close to 30 years ago, my father woke me up and said: “We have to get to the factory — now!”
We had just spent the past year building out what had quickly become North America’s largest cotton candy manufacturer. We patented our own plastic bag. We signed deals with big box retailers at the time when Wal-Mart was on the cusp of being a thing.
And now, in the middle of the night, our factory was being robbed.
Racing to the factory, we were greeted by the night manager who told us he had caught a disgruntled employee stealing. Calling the authorities, we settled into hours of backup work to not only trace the events but also get the factory back on track.
Just another day at the office, right?
Looking back, I consider myself quite lucky to have gone through that experience. I learned about entrepreneurship through the hardship of it. The grind of it. Every single day.
These are lessons you cannot pick up in business school; or any school for that matter.
After personally investing in over a dozen companies and starting two myself, what’s become clear is that starting a business is an exhilarating journey. However, it can also turn on a dime to become harrowing and frightening.
Fortunately, many founders intuitively understand this. So, they seek out counsel at the start of their business. Many believe that if they get assistance at inception with a group of great advisors, they will be ok.
Unfortunately, too many founders underestimate the longevity of the support they will need. Recruiting isn’t just about finding the right team leaders; it’s about building long term culture. Branding isn’t just about the logo; It’s about ensuring the right messaging and targeting every day. The scope of counsel is often too short term to drive lasting impact and build game changing businesses.
We started Harvest Ventures to solve for that exact reason: to provide generational support to founders along their journey to building breakthrough businesses. Just writing a check and saying you’re there “to help” is no longer enough; you need to be a true lifetime partner with the resources, agility, and capacity to see it through to the end. While we start with the check, we provide unwavering support because, as founders ourselves, we know that at the core of every great company is an extraordinarily dedicated and skilled team.
Too often, founders underestimate the resource drain associated with services like recruiting, growth marketing, and accounting. In fact, close to two thirds of all founders admit to repeatedly underestimating the cost of these types of resources and services.
Harvest Venture Partners’ relationship with Harvest Builders, a venture studio platform, ensures that founders have access to path breaking resources at virtually no cost. Harvest Builders has over 40 full time staff dedicated to helping you build your business. In a way, Harvest becomes your fractional co-founder, scaling up the gaps in staffing and resources when you need it and ratcheting down when you don’t. These resources are available for the entire lifetime of your business; not just during the earliest stages of your company.
Building a new tech team? Harvest’s recruiting team has successfully built a hiring engine for the largest tech companies in Western Canada; hiring at a pace of about 20 people — a day.
Designing and deploying a new marketing funnel? Harvest’s growth marketing team is amongst the best in the business, having successfully built the marketing plans for over two dozen startups including 4 of the top 10 venture backed businesses in the country.
Yet we do not stop there as we back this up with financial planning, accounting, and back office support so you can focus on going heads down and building product.
Harvest is built by founders for founders. That means we understand the speed with which deals need to get done and the counsel you’ll need when you encounter the bumps along the way. We’re operators supporting other operators; it’s just that simple.
Speed is critical in venture. You want to spend less time on deals and more time on building.
That’s why we’re comfortable saying our goal is to close our deals in five days or less from the time of decision with the right team and company. With documentation now pretty much standardized, our focus is squarely where it should be: helping founders succeed.
Our diligence process is also different. Harvest’s core team and close advisors bring close to 50 years of entrepreneurial experience to the table as your direct counsel. We leverage this to help you with introductions to crucial customer connections, key hires, and other investors because we believe the best diligence takes place by being helpful. If we can create value together right out of the gate, who knows what we can achieve in the future.
First time founders focus on product. Second time founders often focus more on scaling distribution. We not only believe that distribution is what differentiates; we have strong conviction it’s the secret unfair advantage underpinning true category winners.
Central to our funding process is providing portfolio companies access to key anchor distribution partners to supercharge growth right out of the gate. By starting the flywheel towards accelerated scale, we can take advantage of embedded distribution channels, lower the cost of customer acquisition, and speed up the product development cycle.
With partners like Neo Financial and ATB and over 20 other financial technology leaders globally, we cover the gamut of the types of relationships we know you’re looking for.
Why We Focus on Founders
At the core of every great company is an extraordinary founding team. A team that is dedicated to making one small dent in the world that could eventually grow to disrupt how we live and work every day. From the earliest days of Silicon Valley and the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor to more recent entrants like Airbnb and Doordash, this is how it’s always been.
And will always be.
We never set out to start a venture fund because we wanted to be fund managers. In fact, we started a venture fund so we could do what we love best: helping great people bring extraordinary things to life. If we can do this for just one founder or just one team, we will have succeeded.
After all, as Walt Disney said:
“You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
Alex Gold is the Founder & General Partner of Harvest Venture Partners.