Cindy Padnos is an innovator and an advocate for all things entrepreneurial. She is a founder (both of a VC-backed tech startup and a VC firm), with a passion for enabling experimentation that can lead to the discovery of new business models and unique points of leverage. Cindy bleeds B2B/Enterprise Tech – gaining the moniker “Queen B2B” and a place at the table with the top institutional investors in the category.
Cindy has been working with enterprise technology startups for more than 20 years - as a founder, operating executive, adviser, or investor. She founded Illuminate Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture capital firm that invests exclusively in enterprise cloud and mobile software companies. Illuminate seeks entrepreneurs that are "re-inventing the enterprise" with products that deliver dramatic productivity and decision making improvements while leveraging better, faster, cheaper - cloud technologies and innovative business models.
Prior to her investing career, Cindy led several successful venture-backed entrepreneurial efforts. She was the founder/CEO of Vivant (now part of Oracle) an early Software as a Service (SaaS) company. She was CEO of Acumen, orchestrating a profitable M&A, and VP Marketing for Scopus, helping position this early CRM company for its successful IPO. Early in her career, Cindy served as a management consultant at Booz Allen and Arthur D Little.
Illuminate is particularly interested in companies delivering:
- B2B SaaS applications and infrastructure
- Application of AI and blockchain technologies to the Enterprise
- Enterprise mobile solutions
- Predictive and prescriptive analytics that improve business results
- Business model innovation enablers
- Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)”
Cindy is also an investor at various companies, such as Jacobi, Cafe X Communications, Bedrock Analytics, Peerlyst, ChannelEyes, Pyze Inc., JetStream Software Inc. Influitive, Hoopla Software, Xoupang, Contentstack, BrightEdge, and Allocadia.
During this interview we cover:
00:00 - Intro
02:09 - Early SaaS Experience from Raising VC Capital to Acquisition
15:00 - The Decision Behind Illuminate Ventures and Transformation to what it is today (Metrics)
22:21 - Experience & Perspective on the Volatility of Deal Flow Investments with the COVID-19 Pandemic
24:10 The Value of a Dollar & Current Challenges in the COVID-19 Environment
26:18 How Founders Deal with the Slow Down in Decision to Buy or Renew Software from Customers and Some Strategies for the New Normal
31:34 What Illuminate Ventures Share with Startups Beyond Capital Support
38:46 What is a Founder Heroic & Why Any Founder Should Aim to Become One
40:54 Cindy’s Winner Startup Criteria for Investing
42:29 Cindy’s Turn Down Startup Criteria for not Investing