The University of Houston Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation virtually hosted Durg Kumar, co-founder and partner at Knightsgate Ventures for a UH Technology Bridge Partner Spotlight event.
Knightsgate Ventures is a Houston-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in mission-driven startups.
Their strategy is to invest “early in ideas and people that are looking to create positive change through tech innovation.”
“The key drivers in analyzing an early-stage startup are the three Ts: Team, Technology and Traction,” Kumar said. “The startup founder is a big part of the analysis in a young company.”
During the event, Kumar also talked about the company’s social impact. In 2018, they invested in a company producing apparel, accessories and home goods. Working with Green Story, they were able to calculate the impact of these products.
“By using organic and recycled cotton in these orders, rather than using conventional cotton, they were able to make a positive environmental impact,” Kumar said.
According to Kumar, as of 2022 Knightsgate Ventures had invested in 15 early-stage startups across two funds, in multiple verticals and industries, including EdTech, FinTech, Health Tech, Logistics Tech, Mobility Tech, Retail Tech, IT Infrastructure/Telecom Tech, social media/Entertainment Tech, and Software Analytics.
The event spurred questions and discussion from UH faculty interested in understanding what investors are looking for. While Kumar points out that there’s no “magic formula” Knightsgate uses when determining valuation, he suggests that it boils down to some combination of what's going on within a given industry, amongst other companies in that industry, and within the economy at large.
“The group was enthusiastic and asked a lot of great questions. Most of the group came away with a better understanding of how venture capital funds work, how we analyze startup investments, and how social impact and sustainability have become a big part of the investor thesis,” Kumar said.