Fresh out of stealth, Work Life Ventures is a new $5 million fund to invest in seed stage, work-focused SaaS startups. The fund is backed by notable investors like Marc Andreessen , Garry Tan, Alexis Ohanian, NFX, Slow Ventures, and more. Other investors include Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Cameo CEO Steven Galanis, and product leaders at Dropbox and Slack.
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Brianne Kimmel, the founding partner of the fund, told Crunchbase News that it took two weeks for her to raise the entire fund, thanks to her personal network.
Kimmel’s first exposure to SaaS came when she was head of social media at Expedia starting in March 2013.
“I started out by building internal tools, and saw large inefficiencies inside of large companies,” she said. From there she went to Zendesk, founded SaaS School, a biannual workshop for techies, and is now jumping into this first time role as an institutional investor.
About 40 percent of the new fund’s deals will come from SaaS school, according to Work Life Ventures’ pitch deck. It plans to deploy the capital over 30 investments in 24 months. While she said the fund will also do Series A rounds from time to time, the check size will be around $150,000.
“People will pay out of pocket for Superhuman [an email optimization startup], so I feel like there was definitely an opportunity to reimagine how is the workplace changing how software is used,” she said. Kimmel pointed out that while the last “tech cycle” may have been about MailChimp, a newsletter startup for ecommerce businesses, now we’re in the world of Substack, another newsletter startup which lets the average consumer charge readers for subscriptions. Substack recently raised $15.3 million in a financing round for its digital marketplace, in a round led by a16z.
Beyond work tools and collaboration services, Kimmel said she is interested in startups that use software to find “new ways for everyday people to make money.” Companies are no longer just creating a software layer. They’re adding a monetization layer on top of it. And that’s a focus of Kimmel’s new fund.
She pointed to AirGarage, a startup she invested in that allows anyone to rent out their parking space, as an example.
Her deep ties to the SaaS community has already let her into some high profile deals. For example, Work Life Ventures is an investor in Tandem, a hyped YC-backed startup that raised a $7.5 million Seed round, which we reported on previously.
“My conversation with Tandem went deep very quickly because I had previously looked at competitors in a similar space, and knew other products in the space operating in stealth,” Kimmel said on the phone.
Additional investments from the fund include another Y Combinator startup, Dover, which focuses on candidate sourcing, and Command E, which lets users “jump to anything in the cloud without digging through tabs or searching multiple systems,” according to its website.
Kimmel’s jumping into a market that has a high saturation of startups all claiming optimization. Her untraditional transition from operator to venture capitalists may or may not be what it takes to differentiate her from the equally high saturation of venture capitalists looking to bet big on the “next Superhuman.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias