Gil Beyda, originally from Los Angeles, has Dave Morgan to thank for bringing him to Philadelphia.
When Beyda and Morgan founded Real Media in 1995, they chose to locate the online ad serving company in Fort Washington because of the cheap office space available there.
After selling the company to 24 /7 Media, the duo teamed up again in 2001 to create Tacoda, a behavorial advertising company that they then sold to AOL in 2007. With two exits under his belt, Beyda was ready to try something new.
“I was not a corporate AOL guy, so I set off to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew upâ€¦ again,” says Beyda.
Eventually, he settled on a second career as an investor, teaming with Comcast to create Genecast Ventures. In its short existence, the new fund already has four portfolio companies and a successful exit in Invite Media and Beyda says that he looks to be more active in the months to come.
We chatted with Beyda about what companies he likes to invest in and why Philadelphia’s investor ecosystem is just fine, thank you. Oh, and we critique his LinkedIn profile.
I had known the [Comcast Interactive Capital] guys for a while. They had been looking to do earlier stage sub-million dollar investments in internet technology companies in the northeast. There are two investors in the fund: Comcast and myself. So far we’ve made four investments and we’re looking to pick up the pace and do four or five deals a year. It’s not a “strategic fund,” meaning the companies don’t have to have a relevance to Comcast.
…for example, your investment in Invite Media was more advertising.
Digital media, e-commerce, SaaS, gamingâ€¦. we’re looking to invest across a number of different sectors.
What kind of companies are you looking to invest in?
We’re looking for capital businesses that don’t need $10 million to get to scale. We’re looking for companies with unique technology, a secret sauce that gives them a competive advantage that provides a barrier of entry to potential competition and would be attractive to acquirers.
How big is Gencast’s first fund?
It’s an open-ended fund. We’re lucky enough to not have many limited partners in the fund, so we can be flexible. We want to make four to five investmensts in $250,000 – $750,000 range. We don’t have a cap in what we can invest.
Coming form the West Coast and settling here, what do you think makes Philadelphia’s technology community unique?
It is off the beaten path. For folks who want to be part of startups and folks who are looking to invest in startups the whole ecosystem is undiscovered here. There’s a lot of talent born and raised here that likes this area. We have great institutions here and an untapped base of talent here. By offering a more robust ecosystem, we’re giving them a chance to do something different.
What is in that ecosystem?
Funding is the first question. But there is a lot of funding in this area. Theres Ben Franklin Technology Partners, there’s NextStage Capital, Osage Ventures, First Round … There’s a whole bunch of folks that would love to fund companies in their back yard. I don’t think it’s a shortage of capital.
Do you think it’s a matter of some of the older entrepreneurs not mentoring the younger ones?
I’m not sure that I buy into that. A lot of folks are participating. Myself and Josh Kopelman and Mel Baiada and lot of other folks have done well as entrepreneurs and are looking for an avenue to participate. For the most part a lot of them are very willing to give back.
We have to give you a hard time about something: your LinkedIn profile says you live in New York City.
About 90 percent of deals I do will come from New York. I would love it to be the reverse. I think that the Philly guys know I’m here, but the New York guys don’t know as much [about where I am] so I feel I have to be more aggressive in NYC.-30-
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