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Today our Defy portfolio company, Nautilus Biotechnology, began trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker NAUT after its successful merger with the Arya III SPAC. The event and financial outcome is much less important than what Nautilus hopes to achieve: leveraging technology to change the scale of what is possible in proteomics to enable significant advancements in drug development and revolutionize the way biomedical research is conducted. The company developed a protein analysis platform to identify more than 95% of the proteome. By leveraging innovation in computer science, engineering and biochemistry, the company hopes to help researchers understand and treat…


Chad, DJ and Neil over a Sichuan lunch.

Yesterday, a Defy portfolio company, Skubana, announced its successful acquisition by 3PL Central and its partner, Mainsail Partners. While it serves as a meaningful exit for Defy and the founders of Skubana, Chad Rubin and DJ Kunovac, the team will remain to build a next-generation end-to-end commerce platform that combines 3PL’s warehouse management system (WMS) with Skubana’s industry-leading inventory management and eCommerce operations platform. Post-merger, customers, and partners will be able to increase efficiencies, communicate across platforms and deliver products seamlessly to consumers. This represents a true win for every piece of the commerce ecosystem.

Our story with Skubana began…


Securly’s co-founder and CEO, Bharath Madhusudan, leading a meeting

For years, the education market was persona non-grata for many in the venture capital community including myself. After 20 years of investing, it was difficult for me to understand the desire to deal with school administration, long sales cycles, difficult installations and (gasp) budget cycles. Then I met Tory Patterson and his partner Amit Patel who taught me why investing in educating, protecting and helping students at all levels was not just good for the world, it can create venture returns.

I won’t bore you with the Owl VC pitch but it’s a great one — in the last decade…


Nick Bulcao’s Twin Daughters holding Defy’s first check!

After more than 20 years in venture capital, I can happily admit that I am often wrong — totally and completely wrong.

One of those times was when I became enamored with the idea of a common logistics platform across carriers — this should exist, right? After chatting with many friends, I ran into the smartest person I have ever known in and around the logistics space, Nick Bulcao. On our fateful first call, he thoughtfully listened to me wax poetic about the big idea and the space. He stopped me at one point and said, “You know Neil, you…


Screenshot from our event in late December.

If you’re like us, 2021 has the Defy team thinking about a fresh and new aesthetic. But design is so much more than a look. How you position and message your company, your product, and your mission can have an immensely positive impact on your revenue growth and brand recognition.

Andy Getsey joined us and our portfolio companies to talk about the importance of these two branding cornerstones. Andy is with Getsey Hannon, a communications consulting firm. He’s also a partner at seed and angel fund, Theorem Ventures. …


Brian Rothenberg, Partner at Defy.vc

Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the entire world. We at Defy know that the challenges faced by each of our portfolio companies, team members, and friends are different. Many are tackling new business opportunities or challenges, some are taking on the disruption of kids learning from home, and we’re all figuring out how to be as effective as possible working remotely with our teams. In times like these it’s especially crucial to be able to lean on a community for learning and support in order to adapt to these challenging circumstances and come out ready for tomorrow.

We brought…


By: Madison McIlwain, Associate at Defy

Gen-Z cares more about the environment than potentially any prior generation; as is suggested by their self-proclaimed icon of Greta Thunberg. However, will they be the generation to pledge buying waste-free fashion and deliver? Being a fashion vegan, defined as someone who does not purchase first-hand clothing, is a challenge to live out. Similar to single-use plastic-free life, fashion veganism is inefficient because our society and our supply chains are built for consumption, not resumption. And let’s be real, sometimes we want to treat ourselves to a sparkly, new item. Giving up first-hand shopping…


We are so excited to have Brian Rothenberg join the Defy team, here is his journey in his own words…

Ten years ago I went to business school with the aspiration of shifting from product management into venture capital. I earned a VC internship where I learned a great deal about what had previously been an opaque world to me, including how great a job it is and confirming that I definitely wanted to be VC, someday. …


Photo courtesy of MIXhalo co-founder, Mike Einziger

We wanted to let you know we raised an oversubscribed Defy II at $262M today following our $151M Defy I inaugural fund which we closed two years ago. Defy II was led by the most premier LPs in the world, including university endowments, hospital groups, nonprofits, and foundations that allow our success to contribute to things we care about like scholarships, research, and community programs. There was more demand than capacity for the fund because investors know all we want to do is invest in the best entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

Our strategy is exactly the same…


We launched Defy in 2017 with the goal of building a firm to focus on early stage venture investing. One of the things that we’ve naturally been doing is leveraging our network of incredible CEOs and entrepreneurs to help us better understand key questions when evaluating new companies. Who better than an active CEO to give us insights into how their industry is operating. Often times, when those investments move forward, they will co-invest and even become an advisor to the company.

Because this has been such a successful pattern for us, we’ve decided to formalize it in what we’re…

defy.

Early stage venture capital

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