Nnamdi Okike and Aaron Holiday rely on data on the kind of pattern matching that most venture capitalists rely on. Not surprising, given his background. Before launching his venture firm, 645 Ventures, in 2014, Okike was a director at data-driven investment giant Insight Partners. Meanwhile, Holiday, who came directly from DFJ Gotham Ventures, was previously a software engineer at Goldman Sachs.
Of course, data is hard to come by when a startup is just getting off the ground. But last week, in an exchange with TechCrunch, Okike and Holiday said their proprietary software and “resource-intensive model for early-stage investment” is working so well that 645 just secured $347 million in equity commitments from a variety of traditional venture investors. (foundations, family offices, endowments) through two new funds. One is a $195 million seed stage fund; the other is a $153 million fund to support its notable winners as they mature.
These are remarkable numbers in a market where LPs feel far less attractive than they did a year ago. The funds are also a far cry from the duo’s $7.6 million proof-of-concept fund. (They then grossed $40 million LP in 2018 and $160.6 million in 2020, so they now manage about $555 million total.)
Some liquidity from FiscalNote, a maker of policy administration software that started going public in august after merging with a blank check company, it presumably helped. The team says seven other portfolio companies have been sold in the meantime and many others are much more valuable than when 645 Ventures backed them, including two teams whose later rounds were led by Insight. These include the $60 million Series C of the national medical office Eden Health and the $50 million Series B round of cybersecurity company Shift5.
Other milestones to brag about (for now) include the $1.4 billion valuation from cloud security firm Panther Labs and Overtime, a sports league startup that recently raised a $100 million growth round.
Of course, there have been failures. Okike says a big regret is the NFT OpenSea marketplace, which he and Holiday had the opportunity to invest in early on and “unfortunately passed.” At the time, he says, “they didn’t realize how fast the NFT market was growing.”
The good news, Holiday suggests, is that there are plenty of other great New York-based startups to fund. “As a member of the Cornell Tech board of directors, we are seeing a lot of young entrepreneurial energy flocking to the city, and several tech founders have moved their headquarters from other tech hubs to New York City.”
The team also sees it as positive that more “Silicon Valley VCs with a history” who “once saw San Francisco as the center of the universe” are opening offices in New York, including, earlier this year, both company index Y capital of the sequoias.
Are they worried about the competition at all? Not really, says Okike. “We have tailored our offering to provide a compelling value proposition as a primary investor.”
One of the company’s most recent bets is Efficient Capital Labs, which lends capital from US companies to software companies in India; 645 Ventures led its $3.5 million round seed.
Okike says the company has also closed an as-yet-undisclosed Series A investment in a real estate software startup and has been, and will continue to be, active in real estate software, with past bets including RentSpreea startup focused on online rental applications and tenant screening; aryeo, a real estate content platform that helps its users manage, syndicate, and automate listing content; and Rifiniti, a business intelligence startup that was acquired in 2019 by FM:Systems, a maker of facilities management software, for undisclosed terms.