HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 56
Houston-founded venture capital firm heads into second fund focused on social impact
When it comes to business, creating a social impact and a profitable business strategy aren't mutually exclusive — especially nowadays — and a Houston-founded venture capital firm is striving to invest in seed-stage tech companies that check both of those boxes.
Knightsgate Ventures was founded in Houston in 2018 by Durg Kumar and has since expanded to add a New York partner, Allen Bryant, to the operation.
"For a very long time, there was a perceived trade off between social returns and financial returns," Bryant says on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "What we are seeing now is that's really not the case. You actually have businesses that are bringing impactful change and those businesses are propelled by that."
The VC's first fund invested in six startups — including Houston-based Voyager — and is now heading into its second fund. Kumar says the first fund's success was in part due to his network. Now heading into the second go around, Knightsgate's network has grown with the addition of Bryant.
"We're not just one local regional network; we have a national network," Kumar says. "We're not only looking to invest or raise locally — but also start getting the connection between the two ecosystems and find what Houston can learn from New York and what New York can learn from Houston."
Of course, the other difference between the two funds is that Knightsgate will be raising and investing from fund two on the heels of a pandemic. Thankfully, Kumar says, Knightsgate's portfolio companies were in a good place financially and even made strategic pivots amid the challenges.
Now, through the end of this year, Kumar says he and Bryant are helping their portfolio startups focus on the next year.
"Now's a good time to retrench and focus on building product," Kumar says, "so that in 2021 when travel restrictions ease, then you've got your refined product to go out and take it to the customers."
In the episode, Kumar and Bryant discuss each of their thoughts on Houston's growth as an innovation ecosystems from their two different perspectives.
Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.