What We Do

Illuminate’s focus is on finding, funding and accelerating great founders in the B2B/Enterprise cloud and mobile computing space. We focus on companies building SaaS applications as well as solutions that leverage data and mobility to improve business results. We seek innovative ideas led by talented teams – frequently bringing together diverse perspectives that marry “creative destruction” with new technologies to solve old problems in new ways.

Illuminate is typically a startup’s first institutional investor, but can also be a fit for an established company seeking its first equity financing. Our sweet spot is Series Seed rounds – filling the gap between angel capital and larger funding rounds of traditional VCs. When the timing is right, we collaborate with the best large-scale firms for the next round of financing, but we love lean start-ups that preserve flexibility in their early years.

With three funds under management, Illuminate has been an early investor and board member in deep technology platforms like BrightEdge Technologies (SEO market leader), SaaS applications like Xactly Corporation (NYSE: XTLY) and early market innovators like Influitive (customer advocacy).

If you are an entrepreneur that wants to reinvent business as we know it – let’s talk!


How We’re Different

We’re Not Tourists – We Live Here

·        Our investing team and advisors have spent their careers operating, advising, and investing in the Enterprise/B2B software world.

·        Our investments are thesis based – grounded in relevant experience and leveraging our own research.

We Don’t Just Follow The Herd

·        We recognize that great investment opportunities come in a variety of packages – sometimes looking a bit different from the norm.

·        Our unique approach broadens our deal flow to gain access to all the best teams and their innovative companies – not just a subset.

We are Doers – Not Watchers

·        We’ve been there ourselves as founders, so we love supporting talented teams as they build great companies.

·        You won’t hear a lot of hot air from us – we’ll jump in if we can help or find someone who can.

Our Results Speak for Themselves

·        More than half of our new investments have been referred to us directly from our prior portfolio founders and advisors.

·        Across more than 10 years of early stage investing we’ve gained multiple M&As and IPOs – with not a single washout.

Meet Our Team



Stanford Technology Ventures – Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series: An Enterprising Approach to Investment

In this live video interview  conducted on campus at Stanford, Cindy Padnos is interviewed by chaired professor Tom Kosnik. Shares her experiences as both a prior tech startup entrepreneur and as the founder of Illuminate Ventures, an early/seed stage Venture Capital firm. Also available as podcast http://stanford.io/WvhccN.

Insider’s Guide to Silicon Valley’s Investors

In Silicon Valley, people say that the investor-entrepreneur relationship is like a marriage, only more important. Like most jokes, there’s a fair amount of truth behind it: Matchmaking mistakes between investors and entrepreneurs can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences. The initial pitch meeting feels a little like a first date: Each side looks for a […]

Facebook-Blind VCs Missed Opportunities in B2B Cloud Investments

Venture capitalists have been blinded in recent years by consumer technologies – but the real opportunity lies elsewhere. In the consumer internet and business-to-consumer (B2C) categories, there have been some dazzlingly large acquisitions – it’s hard not to be mesmerized by deals such as the $1.65 billion dollar acquisition of YouTube less than two years […]