Roc Nation’s VC Neil Sirni lays out his investment strategy – ClearTips

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J-Z’s Roco Nation announced in 2017 that it was forming an investment arm called Arrival. And the firm has been busy ever since – co-founder and President Neil Sirney said Arrivé has made 29 investments so far.

At the same time, Sirini hasn’t really said much about those investments publicly or about the broader strategy. So he reached out to me a few months ago, and suggested that he was ready to give more information about Arriva.

“We are now three years old, investing 29 and expanding – so it felt like the right time to start a little bit,” he said.

During some back-and-forth emails, we discussed how Rak Ration fits into the nation’s larger objectives, how Searney (a former Goldman Sachs executive) makes investment decisions and where he is focusing next. (Spoiler: Southeast Asia is a big part of that north.)

He was also keen to provide testimonials from Arrive’s portfolio companies – for example, Outlier.org founder Aaron Rasmussen stated that “when Arrive arrives at your mission, they are committed,” while Helm’s co- Founder and CEO Giri Srinivas said the firm “brings” something that I don’t see in traditional institutional investors – legitimate operational expertise around brand and marketing. “

You can read our email Q&A below and edited lightly for length and style.

What is a Rak and how does it fit into the umbrella of the big Raw Nation?

Aarak is the venture platform of Roshan Nation. Roc Nation is a full-service music and sports management, music publishing and entertainment company founded by Jay-Z. Roc Nation and its associated companies have created a diverse business that employs several hundred people. These businesses include artist and athlete representation, a portfolio of Spirit Brands, an apparel line, a philanthropy department that manages four charitable organizations, a content streaming service, a digital team with over 1.4 billion followers, sales and marketing Also maintains social media accounts. The division that operates on countless partnerships with Fortune 500 companies, communications, video production and live event production.

RC Nation Infrastructure can add value to many different types of businesses at different stages, which is why we made Advent. For consumer-facing businesses, Arrive leverages RC Nation Infrastructure to help companies with branding, creative, marketing, communications and other services. For the enterprise, we use our extensive network of B2B relationships to help with business development.

Being a strategic venture investor on the cap table of a portfolio company is not only about investing, but also how human capital can deploy a fund to drive long-term, real and unique value for entrepreneurs and their businesses. is. Therefore, we are helping portfolio companies to take advantage of the wider RC Nation platform and, in turn, gain access to great entrepreneurs.

What kind of investments do you make?

We are relatively field and stage agnostic. We have dedicated capital to an early stage fund that focuses on Series C to Series, but we have also started SPV development and pre-IPO investment as we lay the foundation for a dedicated development vehicle later this year Huh.

How do you make investment decisions? Is Jay-Z involved in the process?

We turn to companies to which we can provide meaningful assistance, but this is outside of Ross Nation, the core industry of music and traditional sports. Thanks to our forum, this is an extremely wide opportunity. To date, we have made 29 investments under the Arrival umbrella in everything from fintech, insurtech, edtech, health and wellness, social, and gaming. Geographically, we are investing in North America, mainly around 80% in the US, and 20% in Southeast Asia, namely Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. As a strategic investor, we never lead deals and always co-invest.

Our long-term focus is to focus on real and unique value for our portfolio companies. If we remain hyper-focused on this mission, we believe that we have the opportunity to build a sustainable brand as a top-tier strategic investor.

Jay-Z approves every arrival opportunity; He, Juan Perez, and Desri Perez are ardent supporters of Arrive and what we are collectively trying to accomplish.

ClearTips: What is your biggest success story so far?

Neil Sirini: I am very proud to be the co-founder of Arrival and what it took to get here. In the grand scheme of things, we are just getting started, but I have been an entrepreneur – after leaving a large public company – for 10 years now. It has been a roller coaster with many sacrifices, but I can understand and relate to our founders and their journey which makes this experience even better. The founders of Roc Nation have built their businesses in brick as well as bricks, so the entire organization is united by this entrepreneurial mindset. I still consider myself a founder and operator first, whose business is to invest.

New York, New York – October 20: Jay Z performs during the Tidal X: 1020 at the Barclays Center on October 20, 2015 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill / FilmMagic)

Given that the arrival has been for a few years, what made you feel that the time has come to start talking more openly about the fund?

When Arrival was launched a few years ago, I hated what we were going to do. Instead, we quietly really wanted to do it; Learn, improve, build and in the process, demonstrate that we are not, and never will be, tourists in the enterprise ecosystem. We are now three years, 29 investing and expanding – so it felt like the right time to start a little bit.

What is an example of an investment where working with Arrive / Roc Nation has benefited beyond financial investment?

Act like many other investors, in which we spend time understanding the vision of a company and then try to provide them with a meaningful lever to help drive their success. Our toolkit is unique thanks to the RC Nation platform and network. We have found that our portfolio companies and their other investors, typically traditional enterprise funds, find those levers to be complementary and additive to the cap table.

Generally works with portfolio companies in three main areas. The first is creative and brand marketing. The second is business development and partnership. The third is communication.

Communication efforts are usually focused on short-term or immediate awareness driving. Many of our portfolio companies receive extensive press coverage when we invest in them. This initial focus typically dies within a week or two, although news that remains as detectable assets the company might not otherwise have. While it may be of some value, particularly to consumer businesses, we believe it is at the bottom of the list compared to the long-term benefits derived from RC Nation’s underlying infrastructure in brand marketing and business development.

In terms of creative and brand marketing, we’ve probably saved our first-stage portfolio in total by providing more than a million dollars at no cost to the brand and agency. Examples of this include campaign sluggishness, graphic design, video production, hosting live events, and product integration, among other activities.

To support business growth and partnerships, we have leveraged our network to help portfolio companies launch their own internal philanthropic platforms, to introduce new partners and customers to our B2B relationships. Took advantage, targeted other strategic investors, helped companies navigate endorsement deals and recruited non-technical executive talent to join their companies.

We do not pretend to be a magic pill, no investor can be, but we focus on continuous improvement and building on the services we provide to our portfolio companies. The founding journey is never a straight line and we pride ourselves on being ready to do whatever we can on our behalf. Stephen Francis, SRP et Arrival, and I are accessible to our portfolio companies on any given day and time.

Do you consider these investments primarily strategic for Roshan Nation, or do you focus on financial returns?

Ic Strategic ‘Investor, in terms of arrivals, refers to the strategic value that we bring to the cap table of a portfolio company. We take advantage of the strategic value that is found in deals and build relationships with entrepreneurs in whom we have high confidence. Our ultimate goal is financial return and as an operating company for RK Nation, nature does not mean strategic investment. Instead, arrival means a strategic investment for the portfolio company.

You said that you are stage agnostic with dedicated capital at different stages. Can you say anything else about what the breakdown is in terms of early stage versus later development deals, and how that might change with the new development fund?

Of our 29 investments, I would classify 25 as early stage and 4 as development. With respect to the percentage of capital, 4 growth investment is slightly more than 35% of the total capital. When we have a dedicated development fund, I expect a growth investment volume of about 3 – 6 per year.

What are your priorities for 2021?

At high levels our priorities are to build a large team to ensure that we are engaged in a very large portfolio and we remain aggressive in deploying more capital to return to larger companies.

On a more granular level I am regularly looking forward to physically coming back to Southeast Asia like Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. We are indeed advancing rapidly in this area and recognize that more enterprise money deploys significant capital there before it is for a longer period of time. We started investing a lot of time in 2019 as part of our plan to deploy around 30% of our early stage funds in the region. This expansion is interrupted by COVID-19. However, I would take quarterly trips when the journey was normal. There is nothing like in-person interaction to build relationships and trust, especially internationally.

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