Collaborative Fund Nabs Three New Investors and Partners With Code for America

Los Angeles-based Collaborative Fund, the socially-minded seed stage fund, has been ramping up in New York for about a year. Skillshare’s Mike Karnjanaprakorn is an advisor, while analyst Sebastien Park is CEO Craig Shapiro’s right-hand man. Now the fund is announcing three new investors, including Meetup’s CEO Scott Heiferman and RecycleBank cofounder Ron Gonen in New York as well as OpenTable cofounder Chuck Templeton in San Francisco.

“Right now we have no institutional capital invested in the fund, only exceptional individuals,” Mr. Shapiro said in an email. “I believe this allows us to be more agile and aggressive in pursuing our mission.

“This fund is, in a sense, a lean startup; we’re entering into a new market and validating the idea with founders. I want to first prove that we have a brand and investment strategy that is correct and show that we can return significant capital before evaluating the idea of increasing the amount of capital we are investing.”

Mr. Shapiro approached each new investor personally, he said. He and Mr. Heiferman were both investors in Kickstarter and Skillshare; Mr. Gronen was “another new friend after Collaborative set up shop in NYC.” Mr. Templeton is also an investor in Collaborative portfolio company Rentcycle.

The 14-month-old fund is still establishing its brand, so the new investors are quite a boon–as is a partnership with Code for America to match fellows with Collaborative portfolio companies.

“The fund focuses on two themes: the increasing importance of values as they relate to the decisions we make about who we work for, what we buy, and how we spend our time; and the shift from an economy based on hyper-consumption to one based on collaborative consumption,” Mr. Shapiro said. “These two forces present a significant opportunity for new technologies, products, and services to reinvent how we do business, consume personal goods and services, and transform our daily lives.”

Collaborative consumption has accelerated since the fund closed in Thanksgiving 2010, he said, with more people using services such as Airbnb, Kickstarter, and TaskRabbit, and investors have followed suit.

“There is a common ethos among our portfolio: the more financially successful they become, the better it is for the world,” Mr. Shapiro said. “They all lean more toward for-profit focused businesses that inherently create social impact versus more philanthropic, yet for-profit businesses. A subtle distinction, but a very big difference.”

Collaborative is also heavily focused on good design–no surprise as Mr. Shapiro’s resume includes time as president of GOOD Worldwide.

The total fund is undisclosed, but it’s less than $10 million. The fund made eight investments in 2011, including Kickstarter, Codecademy, Skillshare and CreativeMornings in New York. Mr. Shapiro expects to make between six and eight investments in 2012.

The fund will continue to have a presence in New York. There’s definitely something special about NYC’s startup scene,” Mr. Park, who joined Collaborative in the spring, said in an email. “NYC also seems to value a diversity lacking in other startup hubs. I believe this is because of the confluence of several large industries such as fashion, advertising, finance and food. I’m excited to be part of a community that will undoubtedly leave a mark in terms of meaningful cultural and technological change, in a city that is known for its unbounded ambition.” Collaborative Fund Nabs Three New Investors and Partners With Code for America