Welcome to the NVCA Blog series, Building Better, where we celebrate the dynamic relationship between our VC members and their innovative portfolio companies around the nation. For today’s Building Better, we spoke with Ben Savage, Partner at Clocktower Technology Ventures, and with Steve Seigel & Miles Beckett of Flossy, a Clocktower portfolio company.
Ben Savage, Partner, Clocktower Technology Ventures
Give us some background on Clocktower Ventures: How did the firm start, what is your mission, and how does the firm strive to meet its goals?
Clocktower Technology Ventures (CTV) is the venture capital investment arm within Clocktower Group, an alternative asset management platform that partners with a select group of globally significant allocators to seed and invest in hedge funds across macro and onshore China focused strategies. Since Clocktower Group’s inception, partners in our ecosystem continually inquired about Clocktower’s perspective on financial services innovation given our heritage and activity in capital markets. CTV, the fintech-focused venture capital arm within Clocktower, was born in 2015.
Today, CTV is a financial services innovation dedicated, stage-agnostic venture capital platform based in Los Angeles, with a portfolio of over 100 fintech startups across the US, Latin America, and Europe. We partner with phenomenal entrepreneurs who have the vision and drive to reinvent financial services, investing from the earliest seeds of startup life to businesses scaling for growth. We invest in fintech companies opportunistically, maintaining a diversified, non-thematic portfolio across the financial services innovation landscape.
Human capital is at the center of our investment philosophy and drives what we do. CTV never leads deals, instead preferring to invest alongside leading institutional venture capital firms. What follows from this approach is a platform that never takes board seats – rather CTV focuses on differentially accretive value-add for founders through the firm’s relationships across a network of fintech founders, growth investors, and a curated network of global macroeconomic thinkers and investors. CTV’s non-conventional VC model reflects a distinct approach built upon an understanding of capital markets and the broader financial services industry.
What does Clocktower Ventures look for in a partner when choosing to invest in a portfolio company? What does Clocktower Ventures value? What do you especially value in the Flossy team?
Human capital is at the center of our investment philosophy and drives what we do. We have spent the past six years refining a framework for thinking about what we believe are the characteristics for great founder, and we apply that framework semi-systematically in trying to identify the highest quality human capital we can find. We do this because we think that our value-add flows from unlocking the power of human capital by building a community and leveraging relationships in ways that are mutually accretive to everyone in the ecosystem. We view our jobs as connecting the right people, in the right ways, at the right time, and then letting greatness emerge form that.
At CTV, we frequently say that “companies are just people”. If you believe in the idea that organizations are just a lot of individuals trying to come together in a shared culture, then you can focus on trying to unlock the potential of those relationships by connecting them to other great people. At the end of the day, we are fintech geeks, and we look for dedicated, focused, high quality founders who also share this same passion.
In financial services in particular, it is easy to build businesses that don’t have a customer-first ethos and instead might try to capture an outsized share of economics or induce customers to make poor financial decisions. We think Steve and Miles at Flossy are doing it in the right way – we really admire the mission of Flossy. We feel that their values are aligned with our values as an organization, and we’re grateful to be part of the Flossy journey.
How does Clocktower Ventures support its portfolio companies? How does it help entrepreneurs grow and advance the VC industry?
We tell our founders when we invest that we will act as collaborative partners, looking to be cheerleaders more than shareholders. We want to support our founders by connecting them to differentially accretive relationships across Clocktower’s ecosystem that can provide insight, opportunities, ideas, and resources. Our whole job is to be a connector – this can take a lot of forms, and mean a lot of things, but ultimately our focus is putting people together in ways that allow them to maximize the potential of their relationship and shared interest.
Steve Seigel & Miles Beckett, Flossy
What is the mission of your company and how did you start?
Our mission is to bring affordable, high quality dental care to everyone. Flossy is an alternative to expensive dental insurance with its high premiums, complicated co-pays and deductibles, and minimal coverage of major procedures. Flossy was born out of the COVID-19 crisis and came from a desire to help freelancers and individuals who lost their dental coverage, and to provide dentists with quick payouts and free marketing compared to the expensive alternatives.
Where and how is your company looking to grow into the next five years?
We are currently live in Arizona and are looking to move across the country over the next few years. In addition to offering affordable, high quality dental care, we plan to offer financing, price comparison tools, and centralized dental records and become a market leader for all of our oral health needs.
What problem is your company trying to solve?
At its core dental insurance does not make financial sense for the consumer with its high premiums, annual coverage caps, and long wait periods for major dental issues. We wanted to create a product that has no wait periods, no monthly or annual fees, no deductibles or co-pays, and gives patients a 50% discount on dental procedures in a pay-as-you go model.
How has Clocktower Ventures impacted your company’s future for the better?
As a fintech/insurtech/consumer health company, understanding the legacy financial services and insurance market is key. Clocktower has a deep understanding of the space and their advice has been invaluable. In addition, providing financing for our patients will be an important aspect of the business and Clocktower has been instrumental in making introductions to potential financing partners. Having them be LA based as well is great as we have been able to use free office space from them as we return to a hybrid work model.