The long-time finance and tech executives are the co-founders of StagedotO, a Seattle-based venture capital firm that has quietly invested in a handful of early-stage startups over the past two years.
Self and Wade grew up together in the Seattle region and both attended Bishop Blanchet High School. Their careers took them separate ways, Self as an investment banker helping companies such as Amazon go public and Wade as a serial entrepreneur involved with five VC-backed startups.
They kept in touch and made a few investments together. But soon they recognized how Series A investment rounds were increasing; PitchBook data shows $12.7 billion in combined Series A deal value for 2017, up from $5.7 billion in 2012, despite the same number of deals.
“We saw the gap to get entrepreneurs funded through Series A become wider and wider,” Self said.
So Self and Wade decided to launch StagedotO two years ago, first starting with their own money and later raising more capital from venture partners. They’ve deployed $14 million to 10 startups across the U.S. in a variety of industries including finance, real estate, telecommunications, and more. Investors in StagedotO’s first fund are high-net worth individuals and family offices.
“We consider ourselves as a tender boat to the cruise ship,” Self said. “That cruise ship is getting farther away from shore with Series A funding getting higher and higher.”
StagedotO uses a milestone-based model for follow-on funding and works closely with its portfolio companies to provide “advisory services,” Self said. There are nine companies as part of StagedotO’s first fund, including Ovation, Plotify, RealSavvy, and Storyvine. It has backed one Seattle-based startup, Teal Communications.
The firm’s investment thesis is industry and location-agnostic, though Self expects its involvement in the Seattle region to grow.
StagedotO, which is hosting its first-ever conference in Seattle this week, is one of several new venture capital firms popping up in the Seattle region. Others include Pioneer Square Labs, Flying Fish Ventures, and Unlock Venture Partners.
Editor’s note: StagedotO is a GeekWire sponsor.