Technically Philly would like to begin with an apology.
In Tuesday’s VC Roundup, we speculated that ETF Ventures chose their new name based on their proximity. Turns out, the opposite was true.
“The reason we wrote it out (as SeventySix instead of 76), actually, was to not be associated with the highway,” says Associate Adam Dotson.
When the VC firm formally known as Eastern Technology Fund changed its name this week, it was mostly due to the rise in popularity of exchange traded funds, a sort of mutual fund for alternative investments. The resulting confusion between ETF the firm and ETF the investment vehicle prompted the group to rebrand themselves as SeventySix Capital: an homage to what Dotson calls the “entrepreneurial spirit of our founding fathers.”
The company also wanted to have a clearer connection to Philadelphia.
Below, we ask Doston for the rejected names as well as the difference between Philly startups and 67th Ward or D.C. startups.
As always, edited for length and clarity.
Tell me about SeventySix’s presence in Philly.
Our three major successes from our first fund, that we raised in 2007, are all Philly-based. We invested in Seamless Web, though they are based mostly in New York and London — they became a menu page where workers can order right from their system and bill it directly to the company. They are making hundreds of millions of dollars and they were purchased by Aramark, which is right in our back yard.
So it all came back?
I’m telling you, it always comes back.
Another thing we did was Nutrisystem, based in Horsham. The final one is Conchohoken based Take Care Health systems, and they were purchased by Wallgreens.
These startups seem to define what you outlined was ETF’s strategy: getting down and dirty with entrepreneurs.
Absolutely. One of the things that defines us is engagement and our relationships. We have a really strong Rolodex.
That’s one of the things a VC brings to a company. It isn’t about investing, then saying “go do your thing,” it’s about helping them succeed, and one way to do that is to introduce them to potential partners and potential acquirers. This way everybody wins.
Can you tell me any of the rejected names that came up for you name change?
We’re not going to get into that, but suffice to say we went through a lot [laughs].
Do you see a difference in the Philly companies versus ones from New York or DC?
I don’t know if there’s a good answer to that. Most of what it rises out of is the surrounding area. So Seamless Web was a New York investment for us. So their target market was defined by that: financial industry, law firms etc.
Similarly our major investments here that we have done, like Take Care Health, it does feel Philly-like. It’s made to be more convenient for people. It was the healthcare industry that inspired them.
And the Philadelphia companies are more obnoxious at sports games.
[laughs] Probably. Though there are some obnoxious sports fans outside of Philly.
Every Friday, Technically Philly brings you an interview with a leader or innovator in Philadelphia’s technology community. See others here.
People: Adam Dotson