Ali Sheppard
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Ali Sheppard
Design + Operations at VegasTechFund
Les Vegas, United States
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https://www.hwtrek.com/profile/ali-sheppard.1053
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Company Website:VegasTechFund
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About Vegas TechFund:

We Are Investing In Community-

Vegas TechFund is a seed stage investment fund and community catalyst focused on investing in teams solving compelling problems in innovative ways and who are committed to building a vibrant tech community in downtown Las Vegas. We see our city as an incubator and aim to find, foster, and accelerate companies who share that vision and want to build in it. We’re bringing people together who are hungry to be a part of something bigger than themselves and their companies – a community that encourages experimentation, relationship-building, and collaboration.

Our Methodology-

We invest in founders who:

  • Aim to increase the creative class of downtown Las Vegas by solving compelling problems with an amazing team.
  • Are building teams that are excited about being an active member of the #VegasTech Community. This includes mentoring and collaborating with other companies in the community, having community dinners and organizing and participating in tech events such as the Downtown Podcast and Tech Cocktail Week. We’ve also been known to have a drink or two together.
  • Are insanely passionate about their company. We want to build a group of founders that create successful businesses that improve the brand of VegasTech.

Who are we?

We are a group of operators and founders who make seed investments in founders building the future of commerce.

We often invest at day one and hustle alongside our companies to help them grow.

What do we do?

We invest capital and sweat into innovative vertical commerce and physical retail technology companies and companies that enable greater access and efficiency to those areas.

We are operationally-focused investors. More important than the capital we invest, we bring our experience and network and work tirelessly to help you achieve your company’s goals. We only invest in companies we would want to work for.

We want to be the most recommended early stage capital source by founders redefining commerce and the future of retail.

Why are we excited about commerce?

The barriers to creating real things is lower than ever. We want to help build those great companies. At the same time the window of opportunity to redefine the role of physical places in commerce is prime. We want to help define how people interact with their worlds for the next 100 years.

Commerce is not as simple as selling things online. Great commerce is a collection of smart systems and brilliant financial planning. Long-lasting commerce companies are parts operations, technology, design, people and finance.

The bulk of our partners’ company experience centers around commerce. We’ve built products from scratch and at extreme scale. We love it. We’re excited by the opportunity to help innovative ideas become 100-year companies.

What is commerce?

The definition of commerce is broad. We believe it to be all aspects of how people buy the things they need and want. People’s needs include many types of products, tangible and intangible. Companies that deconstruct inefficient or expensive categories of products are equally as exciting to us as companies figuring out how to make the dying brick and mortar retail world vibrant again.

What do you do for your portfolio companies? What kind of investor are you?

In a word: hustle. We are operationally-focused investors. More important than the capital we invest, we bring our experience and network and work tirelessly to help you achieve your company’s goals.

What types of companies does VTF Capital invest in?

Our companies see their products as solving a deep-rooted problem rather than just making a sale.

We invest in companies in a variety of industries but get particularly excited about commerce. Most of our companies create, build and sell products, experiences and tools that challenge commerce in the physical and digital worlds.

We invest in early and mid-stage companies serving consumers and SMBs with revenue-positive unit economics, often vertically integrated commerce, retail technology and SaaS companies surrounding the commerce space.

A company we invest in typically generates revenue in one of three ways. Our experience is that young companies that focus on earning revenue from more than one of these categories experience growth challenges.

VERTICAL COMMERCE – COMPANIES THAT DEFINE AN ENTIRE CATEGORY OF PRODUCTS AND SHOPPING.

These companies are often first-party branded retailers that leverage technology to more nimbly manufacture and market goods.

These companies’ products define new product categories distributed at efficient scale.

These companies have a deep sense of purpose beyond making a sale, this is especially important for third-party commerce companies.

These companies have a long-term stair step vision for how to build a large, lasting company.

These companies use complex systems and data analysis to maximize every opportunity to build a long-term business.

Examples include: Thrive Market, Ministry of Supply, Print Syndicate, True & Co, Mouth.com, Bow and Drape, Ring.com, Karma, Littlebits, Fandeavor, CombatGent, Mizzen+Main, Quarterly, Local Motors.

PHYSICAL COMMERCE – COMPANIES THAT BUILD INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR PHYSICAL COMMERCE.

These companies build innovative technologies that enhance physical shopping experiences.

These companies enable more efficient and innovative use of physical spaces to enable in-person and digital commerce.

Examples include: Ink, WithMe, Swapbox, Vengo.

ACCESS – COMPANIES BUILDING TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES THAT ENABLE GREATER ACCESS AND EFFICIENCY IN COMMERCE

These companies build tools to help retail companies build their businesses more efficiently.

These companies focus on leveraging technology innovation to make commerce simpler, more intelligent and more secure.

Examples include: Banjo, AnyPerk, General Assembly, Surf Air, Skillshare, Adespresso, Hashrabbit, Buffer, WiseBanyan, Dragon Innovation.

What do we not invest in?

Companies directly or indirectly focused on gambling, gaming or nightlife entertainment.

Companies, especially physical product companies, that have not produced and sold a usable MVP to customers whether it be a physical product or an intangible technology product. To help companies like this we invested in Dragon Innovation.

Companies lacking technically-minded team members or co-founders. We’re looking for companies where tech is in your DNA.

Do we invest in other types of companies?

The definition of commerce evolves daily. Most of our recent investments fit into one of our three focus areas within commerce. Sometimes a founder forces us to rethink our definition of commerce. We call those investments Emerging Commerce. Successfully challenge us to rethink commerce and we’ll be friends for life.

When do we invest?

We have always been an early stage investor. We invest $300,000 to $2 million in companies over their lifetimes. We sometimes lead investments but don’t require that we do so. If you’ve raised more than $2 million, you are probably too late for us.

Do we have to be based in Las Vegas?

We love Las Vegas. Some of us live here. 25% of the investments we’ve made are based here. We’ve invested more early stage capital into Las Vegas companies than any firm in state history. We see maximizing our impact as a long-term focus.

If we can do for Las Vegas what Brad Feld did for Boulder, everyone wins. And we can’t do that by only investing in companies with Las Vegas ties. That’s why 75% of our investments are located elsewhere. We’re excited to meet and support companies tackling commerce all over the US (and abroad).