Yanev Suissa's advice to tech entrepreneurs: Don't (entirely) ignore the government - Technical.ly DC

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Jul. 9, 2015 8:01 am

Yanev Suissa’s advice to tech entrepreneurs: Don’t (entirely) ignore the government

A former NEA associate, Yanev Suissa is building a new fund that will help growing companies find common ground with the public sector.
Government and tech firms: We can work it out.

Government and tech firms: We can work it out.

(Photo by Flickr user visitBerlin, used under a Creative Commons license)

Venture capitalist Yanev Suissa thinks entrepreneurs shouldn’t have to worry about the government. And yet, the former New Enterprise Associates investor now wants to fund companies that either have services to offer the public sector or need to “navigate” the regulatory process to get their products to market.

“There are very few government folks in the top venture funds,” said Suissa. So he decided to launch his own investment firm, a D.C. area-based fund for early-stage growth companies called Sinewave Ventures.

Yanev Suissa.

Yanev Suissa. (Courtesy image)

It will offer technology firms the ultimate eat-your-vegetables service: Helping them build out their public-sector arm.

Suissa served at the tail end of the Bush administration and the early days of the Obama administration as investment officer, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Yet as an investor, he’s certainly not enamored with government.

“There’s incredible financing risks by just focusing on the public sector,” he said. It’s “very difficult to build a sustainable business focusing on it.”

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But private- and public-sector collaboration is becoming inevitable, he said.

On the one hand, “the private sector is realizing it needs to figure out the public sector,” with the so-called sharing economy barging into closely regulated industries.

Entrepreneurs should also consider government as a potential growth market, said Suissa. “You should be on both sides of the equation.”

Meanwhile, the government has softened its stance on outsourcing certain services. “Now they’re really interested in commercial off-the-shelves technology,” he said.

They need to “understand how to deal with the private sector,” he added. “It’s going to slap them in the face if they don’t.”

Suissa’s fund, called Sinewave in reference to a curve that could link Capitol Hill and Silicon Valley, launched in February and is in the process of raising a $100 million round, according to the Washington Business Journal.

It has already participated in a $25.2 million round for Cambridge-based data analytics firm Tamr and a $10 million round for Herndon-based wearable tech company APX Labs.

Sinewave Ventures will offer “value-added” backing to its portfolio companies, said Suissa. The fund is building partnerships with major tech companies, service providers and commercial retailers. They will act as strategic partners and investors, and also maybe as clients, he said.

Suissa said the fund wouldn’t focus on area companies, but noted D.C. is the center of shifting trends in the technology industry.

“D.C. is becoming more relevant,” he said, “because of the broader overlap of public and private.”

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