Startup studio super{set} is exiting again, selling marketing company Habu to LiveRamp for $200 million in January. Now, super{set} has raised an additional $90 million in funding, doubling down on its strategy of building enterprise startups.

“In some ways, very little has changed since we launched. We remain a venture studio focused on building companies rooted in data and artificial intelligence. We discover, fund and build new technology startups, primarily in Enterprise space,” founding managing partner Tom Chavez told TechCrunch.

However, other parts of the market have changed since 2019. Chavez sounds right. Building “admittedly boring but rich products,” as TechCrunch reported at the time, proved to be a solid enough bet that the super{set} is now doubling down. It has received a total of $176 million in funding to date.

There are a lot of VC studios out there – according to one of them, Enhance Ventures, “The VC firm phenomenon started in 1996 and has gained momentum over the past decade, becoming the new normal, with huge amounts of money and a long list of exits .” But the advantage of super{set} is that it’s run by a builder with a proven track record.

While Super{set} is backed by outside investors including family offices and technology investors, part of its funding comes from Chavez and his founding managing partner Vivek Vaidya. The two previously co-founded Krux, which they later sold to Salesforce. Previously, Microsoft acquired Rapt, a company co-founded by Chavez, with Vaidya serving as chief technology officer. The two exits totaled $1.2 billion, and the pair are now plowing some of the proceeds into the super{set}.

“Our investors want to see that; they know we’re fully aligned on outcomes and investments,” Chavez said. “But we’re also fortunate to have a very interesting and diverse base of limited partners who bring a lot of expertise and ask a lot of useful questions about what we’re doing.”

The studio’s focus on artificial intelligence is unquestionable, but unlike many investors who support basic artificial intelligence, super{set} is more interested in so-called artificial intelligence engineering.

“The LL.M. Foundation creates a great opportunity for people like us who want to figure out how to design useful applications that leverage all these types of systems,” Chavez said, describing the growing interest in large language models and Said when innovating.

Chavez said that while entrepreneurs can try this on their own, Super{set} gives them another option so they don’t have to run up and down Sand Mountain Road trying to get funding for an unproven idea. “We make all of that disappear so teams can focus on product and customers.”

Risk studio, super (set) style

A more difficult funding environment can create tailwinds for venture capital studios, and not just because it makes it easier to attract entrepreneurs. Investors also want to know that if the company succeeds, the studio will gain enough ownership to earn a handsome return.

However, there is a line between enough ownership and too much ownership, especially when the added value is unclear. The venture studio space is still quite broad, but Chavez said super{set}’s model is “very different from what most venture studios do.”

One big difference is volume: with 16 companies in super{set}’s portfolio, it’s more hands-on than a studio that creates a dozen companies a month. It has even reduced the number of companies it launches from four or five in the early days to two or three a year.

The pair didn’t pursue every idea they came up with. One such tool is the solution memo, which is a version of a typical venture capital memo that analyzes whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. Chavez said this is one aspect of super{set} that has changed from 2019, as its approach shifted from art to science.

Alex Bangash, a limited partner, said Chavez and Vaidya are good at picking partners, both in terms of science and technology. His venture capital fund Transpose Platform has several startup studios in its portfolio. “Tom and Vivek are laser-focused on not only attracting the right talent, but also identifying who has the guts to become co-founders and then working with the company to elevate and grow that talent.”

After validating an idea, super{set} finds it a product-oriented co-founder, and over time its help transitions from hands-on to light-hearted mentorship, but nothing like an accelerator program That creates a cliff. In the early days, support included recruiting, marketing, sales and fundraising.

Co-founders and later companies can also work out of a new space super{set} they recently moved into: the entire fourth floor of San Francisco’s landmark 140 New Montgomery building, also home to venture capital firm Greylock. Chavez, who was born and raised in Albuquerque and moved to San Francisco about 30 years ago, is bullish on the city, especially the current “artificial intelligence revolution.” Super{set} hopes to continue.

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