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
“The refreshing thing about Illuminate is their singular focus on Enterprise Software. With most VCs, Enterprise is part of their portfolio, but with Illuminate, it is 100% of their focus and that shows in their expertise, connections and depth of knowledge.”
“Illuminate has delivered exactly what we were seeking. Cindy’s experience as founder of a SaaS company and seasoned investor in the enterprise software space is invaluable in shaping our success.”
“Illuminate has offered value that goes well beyond typical Board participation – teeing up a host of C-level contacts to accelerate both the time frame and the likelihood of our market leadership.”
“Illuminate Ventures went above and beyond in every way. Their impact was tremendous for the company on a large scale and for me personally as a first time entrepreneur.”
“Illuminate Ventures has been a great advocate – always offering practical advice. They have helped us to accelerate our business and to better understand how to scale the company overall.”
“Illuminate has provided high quality intros to many partners and helpful insights in subsequent financings. Adding Cindy & an Illuminate Advisory Council member to our board has been invaluable.”
“It was great to have Illuminate Ventures as an investor. We quickly recognized the value that Cindy and her firm could bring, allowing Illuminate access to our much sought-after initial funding.”
“There was a lot of demand for Influitive’s seed round. We were impressed with Illuminate’s founder references and have no doubt we made the right decision. Illuminate has been a great partner – they are there when we need them.”
“Illuminate’s team has opened their rolodexes to connect us with hard to reach customers and partners. Cindy asks the best questions and is always ready to brainstorm. We love having Illuminate on our team.”
“The greatest benefit of working with Illuminate is the amazing amount of knowledge they bring to the table about building an enterprise SaaS company. Their support has been incredible. I would not start another company without them.”
“The Illuminate Ventures team is extremely hard-working and helpful. They have opened up doors to an incredible list of people who we would have never had access to without them.”
“Illuminate Ventures has been with us since the very beginning and has provided incredible support. We continue to benefit tremendously from their mentorship, enthusiasm, confidence, and connections.”
“Cindy has been a great mentor and a trusted friend for more than a decade. She has shared great advice drawn from her experiences as an executive, entrepreneur, CEO and venture investor.”
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.
A recent PWC MoneyTree report indicated a drop in VC funding amount and number of deals since the highpoint in 2015. Two Silicon Valley Venture Capital Managing Partners discuss the recent changes in the funding and valuation models as well as the focus on where a VC can add value. Guests are Cindy Padnos, Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures and [...]
In this episode with Cindy we discuss: How Cindy made her way into the world of SaaS and later SaaS investing. Why does Cindy think SaaS is a democratizer for entrepreneurship? Is the proliferation of Sales and Marketing tools not a challenge for startups in terms of competing for the same VC dollars? […]
Cindy Padnos ascended the ladder of success by incrementally climbing down in the sizes of the businesses where she absorbed, advanced, innovated. Eventually, she co-founded her own firm, Illuminate Ventures, and found her niche in venture capital.
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 […]
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 […]