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2017|Case No.E630| Length 23 pgs.
In 2014, Mar Hershenson and Pejman Nozad teamed up to form Pear VC, a venture capital firm that invested in start-ups spanning three stages of company development: 1) pre-seed, which Pear termed “soil”; 2) seed; and 3) Series A. The duo had known each other for well over a decade before creating Pear VC. And while they have very different backgrounds—Hershenson had founded several companies after receiving her PhD in electrical engineering, while Nozad had invested in dozens of successful start-ups as an angel investor after immigrating to the United States from Iran—they shared the same deep-rooted mission of helping early-stage start-ups succeed.
Along with financial capital, Pear provided its portfolio companies with the tools, network, support, and mentorship needed to grow their businesses. Hershenson and Nozad took great pride in Pear’s high-touch, values-driven approach, which they deemed “partnering” rather than “investing.” The two spent significant time helping start-ups develop into sustainable, category-defining companies, whether that meant assisting with an operating plan, introducing founders to potential employees, or connecting teams with experts in a given industry. The “Pear VC” case explores the myriad challenges associated with forming and growing a seed-stage venture capital firm, from raising a fund, to aligning on investment criteria, to scaling the business.
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The Pear VC case highlights several learning objectives from the perspective of an institutional venture capital firm: 1) Prioritizing key investment criteria when evaluating early-stage entrepreneurs; 2) Understanding how to create and sustain strong deal flow; 3) Evaluating the economics of a venture capital fund; 4) Assessing the challenges associated with scaling a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investments; 5) Determining the appropriate balance between helping founders and enhancing future deal flow.