Where we started…

Access Venture Partners was co-founded in 1998 by Frank Mendicino II and Frank Mendicino III with a simple mission: to earn outstanding returns by supporting entrepreneurs building exceptional companies in the Rockies. “The Franks” grew up in a family of entrepreneurs from Wyoming and then spent many years working in venture capital in Silicon Valley. The pair shared a key belief about the future of startup investing – venture-backed startups were poised to be a cornerstone of every economy.

In 1998, the venture sector in Colorado was nascent with only a few pioneering firms in place, and a handful of upstarts like Access setting up shop. By 2006, there were a number of growing companies, an exit, and the beginnings of a startup community established by AVP and partners such as Foundry Group and Techstars. Early in our journey, we were fortunate to partner with Brian Wallace and Kirk Holland. Without their help, Access would not be where it is today.

Fast forward 20 years.

Since 1998, Access has invested over $125M in 70 companies in the Rockies. Those companies have raised more than $3B and have hired over 7,500 employees.

One of the bets we made in founding Access was that technology companies would be founded everywhere. In 1998, very few early stage venture funds thrived outside of Silicon Valley or Boston. Today, many do. Fortunately, our bet has paid off and we expect there to be many more entrepreneurial success stories with their genesis in the Rockies.

We are now seeing an acceleration that we did not anticipate when we started Access: many founders are building geographically distributed, or “remote first” teams, taking advantage of talent wherever it lives.. To continue our success, we must meet founders where they are. In order to execute a more distributed geographic strategy we have invested in the next generation of our team with the addition of Elyse Kent, Alex Houghtalin and Eric Shu.

Staying true to early-stage investing.

With AVP Fund V, we will be continuing our early-stage investing focus, writing checks in seed and series A rounds. With our seed investments, we will be making smaller bets with $250k-$500k checks and doubling our investment frequency versus prior funds. 

A few qualities we look for in seed deals:

  • Stage: Preferably an MVP in the market, ideally with some initial users / customer traction
  • Team: Founding team that knows the problem and customers first hand and is passionate about growing a big business
  • Business Model: Scalable unit economics. We deeply respect founders who bootstrap and learn through services, but there should be a clear path to a self-service product and software margins
  • Market: Clear focus on an initial wedge with a believable path to huge market
  • Themes: We believe that software will continue to transform every industry and create tremendous value. We get most excited about businesses that fall into one of the below themes 

We’re doubling down on our themes.

We are particularly interested in backing founders who are building foundational technology infrastructure, solutions to unleash productivity across the enterprise, and new approaches to create a safer, protected digital economy.

Our investments fall into the following themes:

  • Cybersecurity & Defense Tech – securing digital infrastructure for consumers, organizations, and networks 
  • Managed Marketplaces – software and marketplaces that simplify commerce and transactions as well as open up new digital economies and avenues of commerce
  • Enterprise SaaS – HRtech, DataOps, Applied AI, API & Seamless Interoperability, Data Infrastructure

Still founder-focused.

We aim to bring our business acumen, combined experience, networks, humor, and hard work to the founders we back, no matter where they are located. As we double down on our themes, we are thrilled to continue to support founders in Colorado, Utah & the Mountain West. We’re also interested in meeting founders in emerging markets and distributed teams. 

We’re codifying our expert network.

Since our founding we have supported and guided tech startups through the critical early years of their development.  In addition to providing funding and mentorship support, we often make introductions  to investors and experts in the AVP family. Over the years, we have built an expansive expert and partner network—from GTM experts to financial advisors—and an extensive talent network. With Fund V, we’ll be digging deeper to grow and build a symbiotic network with deep domain expertise. Our experts will continue to help us evaluate potential investments, provide mentorship to our portfolio companies, be the first to hear about potential opportunities within the portfolio, and build relationships with one another.

We are excited to continue bringing the foundational qualities of the west and our core ethos as we back emerging founders. And we’re excited to meet you.

At our core, we are pragmatic optimists, which is to say that we believe in innovation and the incredible power of technology. We believe in a better future. We believe that businesses can be built from nothing. We’re willing to work hard, to give all of ourselves and our resources to our founders and to do so with patience – we know it takes time. If you’re a founder, an investor, or would like to join our expert network, we’d love to hear from you. 

We roll up our sleeves, provide value without ego, live the code of the west, and keep it real.

– Frank, Kirk, Brian, Elyse, Alex & Eric