Diffuse

the venture ecosystem

Diffuse: to be widely spread or scattered; dispersed.

 

A venture Ecosystem that scalably and intelligently invests in private businesses by recruiting the right players at the right time into our streamlined allocation process..

Our Investors are able to intelligently and scalably deploy capital into early stage startups. That ideal is the north star by which we navigate. Our Ecosystem is made up of expert Lead Investors who source and diligence deals and then secure co-investment allocations for Diffuse. Hence, intelligent.

Why Diffuse?

The exclusivity of today’s VC community makes investing challenging even for the cash-rich, since they lack the personal relationships to be invited to the best deals. Diffuse believes that venture investing should be accessible, low-risk, and friction-free for investors eager to deploy their funds in exclusive startup opportunities.

What we do

True to form, we “diffuse” the key aspects of venture investing to our network of professional VCs, high-net worth (HNW) investors, and domain experts. We enable more investors to achieve outsized returns by helping to build the next generation of industry-leading companies.

Why we are different

We make money when the investor makes money. Contrary to the short-sighted upfront commission charged by broker-dealers, at the expense of the entrepreneurs, our Ecosystem is incentivized by carried interest (i.e., profit sharing) on every investment. This long term view means we’ll help our Entrepreneurs for the life of their startup.

How it works

 

Step #1

We are invited to invest in companies by professional VCs (Leads) who value our expeditious and mutually beneficial investment process.

Step #2

Each deal is vetted by these professionals who lead the round and make a sizeable investment.

Step #3

Upon successful due diligence, our hyper-connected Syndicators diffuse the deal to their top caliber network, in return for carried interest on the deal.

Step #4

Earnest, independent investors close the round quickly and seamlessly using our institutional grade process.

Who we invest in

Our Lead Investors determine our investment focus. 

Currently our deep domain expertise lies in Fintech, where we are investing in startups that solve problems in both B2B and B2C, from capital markets to retail banking. As our Lead Investor network scales and we gain critical mass across verticals, we will become a sector agnostic syndicate which provides entrepreneurs from diverse industries growth capital and expertise, while giving investors a diversified portfolio strategy.

 

Who we are

We are a network of professional investors, entrepreneurs, VCs, syndicators, and individual investors who believe venture investing delivers more impact when it is deployed intelligently and seamlessly at scalable.

 

Team

Kenny Estes, CEO | 

Kenny was the co-founder of West Loop Ventures, an early stage B2B Fintech VC fund that has made 7 investments (leading 6) in the US and Europe. He took on the role of Board Director or Observer for 6 of the companies. Before that he spent a decade as a high frequency trader, helping build a 15 person startup (Getco) into a 1,500 strong global public company. While operating at Getco he first started managing money by creating boutique funds to purchase ~130 1-4 unit rental properties between 2009 and 2011, when the opportunity was strongest. In his free time, Kenny enjoys setting challenges for himself. He’s a father of two, husband of one, Ironman, private pilot, AOW SCUBA diver, passably good skier, and suffers from severe wanderlust. MBA Chicago Booth (2020). Double BS Truman University (Math & Computer Science).

Ayla Kremb, Ecosystem Manager | 

Ayla has 10 years of experience commercialising high potential tech startups. From leading sales, business development and partnerships to orchestrating fundraising and acquisitions, there are few areas in the industry she has not touched. Leaving a blazing trail across Europe, USA and Asia, Ayla excels in connecting strategic business objectives, stakeholders across ranks, and industry-disrupting tech solutions.

Having advised 300+ teams on commercialisation strategy, Ayla now leads ecosystem growth at Diffuse, sits on the advisory board of seed stage investment fund Investigate, mentors at the Chinaccellerator/MOX, and runs a tech sales training programme for the Singapore University of Social Sciences entrepreneurship programme.

Advisors

Nora Peterson, Advisor | 

Nora Peterson is the co-founder of Halo Incubator, a NYC based pre-seed accelerator for female led startups, an adjunct instructor at NYU’s Entrepreneurship Program, and recently joined DXC Technology to help lead its account management and digital transformation strategy. Previously, Nora was the VP of Operations at CreditStacks, a Series A credit card startup for “new to credit consumers”. She’s also held roles as VP of Sales and Business Strategy at Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal and as Head of Business Development at Aon’s Global Innovation Center in Singapore.

Michael A. Cavanaugh, Advisor | 

Michael Cavanaugh is the founding member of FinTech Ranger and is a Principal at RCM Wealth Advisors, with 20 years of experience in the Financial services industry, specialising in alternative investments and asset management. Passionate about developing the financial services business community: Options Industry Council Advisor Leadership Council and Co-Founder of the Small Business Advocacy Council, he has served as the Vice-President of the Options Alliance and was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade. Under Michael’s guidance, RCM’s corporate benefits division has grown to service over 3,000 employees with their retirement investments. In his free time, Michael is heavily engaged in various other non-for profit entities. B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brian Walls, Advisor | 

Brian Walls is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Bridge Alternatives. He serves on all the Bridge Alternatives Index Committees and was key to the development of the Bridge Alternatives Institutional Futures Index and the time Summit. Brian is also a founder of the Alternative Investments Group at Dean Witter, which continued as an industry innovator for 25 years into Carr Futures, Calyon Financial, Newedge and then Societe Generale, eventually evolving into the Prime Services Division of which Brian was the Global Head. A frequent traveller of exotic locales, Brian has said he often develops a more integrated understanding of markets and economics observing economies and cultures than by following the typical media.

Brad Zapp, Advisor | 

Brad Zapp is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Connetic Ventures. Connetic is a 4-year-old, $30M Venture Capital Firm that invests in early stage, innovation-driven startups throughout North America and Europe. Brad is a 4x Founder personally and specializes in Fintech startups with 2 exits and 7 current investments in the space. Brad calls Union, KY home, where he lives with his wife and 3 cats: Tom, Zoey, and Goose. Realising a lifelong dream, Brad is a guest speaker at the University of Kentucky, NKU, Ocean Accelerator and is working at making these opportunities more frequent every year. An astute student of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Brad’s standing advice to startups and the universe is “May the Force Be With You”.

Jeff Carter, Advisor | 

A self-made trader, Jeff traded his own money at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and joined the CME Board when it was a mutually held non-profit worth less than $200 million and had less than $20 million in the bank. Today, it is a $55B company and the largest exchange in the world. Jeff used his market intuition and network to help found Hyde Park Angels, one of the most active angel groups in the US. Jeff actively recruits like-minded investors dedicated to fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the Midwest, taking the ethic from the trading floor of “My word is my bond” and bringing it into practice with early-stage investing. In 2017, Jeff was an advisor to the G7 on the future of work, artificial intelligence and big data. MBA Chicago Booth (2006). BS Gies College of Business University of Illinois.

Barry Schain, Advisor | 

Barry is a veteran in the commercial real estate industry, having developed or brokered over $1 billion worth of property and holding a strong track record identifying and developing highly profitable locations for branch offices, retail outlets, and other company assets for Fortune 500 companies. A dedicated environmentalist, Barry is the co-founder of Green Signs Chicago, a “green” billboard advertising company. Also with a knack for entertainment, Barry founded Brew & View, Chicago’s first bar & movie theater. Barry also runs tech companies CityScan, a data collection software, and BoatHub, a boat management app. When Barry isn’t working on his businesses, he likes taking long walks with his rescue pup Plum or boating on Lake Michigan.

Mike Lightman, Advisor | 

With a deep passion for startups, Mike is an expert in quickly determining both the big picture and small details in any situation, a skillset that is key in the world of scaling ventures. Turning his operational expertise into fundraising knowhow, Mike designed many of the processes and infrastructure of the venture fund Big Idea Ventures. Prior to that, Mike developed and launch startup ecosystems for the World Bank, travelling globally. As a board member and advisor, Mike takes a mission-first approach to turning growing companies into successful businesses. In his free time, Mike enjoys the outdoors, running, reading sci-fi, cooking, and playing with his puppy Theia.

Connor Sillery, Advisor | 

Connor has nearly a decade of entrepreneurial experience within the finance and fintech ecosystem. He is the founder of an executive search and business consulting firm working with top tier quant funds and investment banks. Connor served as a board observer for an NLP news analytics firm which KPMG recognized as one of 2015’s most innovative companies. More recently, he was Vice President of sales, business development & corporate partnerships at an alternative asset investment platform. Currently, Connor is running SHC Advisors in LA. Connor is an avid Tottenham fan, having been a season ticket holder for many years, and a keen hiker with his wife and dog. He also enjoys F1 and racing along with a good pint of Guinness (properly poured).

Our Ecosystem

 

Lead Investors

Professional VCs, ultra HNW individuals and deep domain experts who give Diffuse’s network exclusive access to deals, which they themselves vet and invest in. In return they receive carry on each deal and access to Diffuse’s extensive Syndicator network.

Syndicators

Exceptionally connected individuals who act as the network’s sophisticated investor coaches. They invite their curated circles to Diffuse’s high potential investments, earn carry on each deal, and network with Lead Investors and fellow hyper-connected Syndicators.

VC in a Box

The friction-free way to manage your funds.
Smart VCs realize their time is best spent helping entrepreneurs build amazing businesses. Our robust and refined infrastructure frees you up to do just that.

What comes in the “box”?

Expert sales and marketing support
Service provider selection and coordination
Deal pipeline management and diligence checklists/templates
Extensive partner network to help your portfolio succeed

Who are our VC clients?

Our funds generally are on funds 1 to 3 with no more than $100 MM AUM.
Early funds are working for sub par economics to create a track record for larger funds later. We ensure when an endowment is diligencing fund 4 they don’t get tripped up by mistakes in fund 1.

What makes Diffuse so good at this?

Diffuse’s core investing approach was built for scale.  We created a process that manages every aspect of what a fund needs to do.  From managing deal pipelines to marketing to investor onboarding to working with service providers. 

Institutional Grade Infrastructure at Economies of Scale Pricing.

FAQ

 

Q: Who is in your network?
A: Professional Investors, connected Syndicators, Entrepreneurs and industry partners who pool their relationships, credibility and insights to fund and grow high-potential ventures.
Q: What do you mean by commission-free?
A: To ensure the shared objective is the long-term success of the startup, instead of paying a cash commission for their capital, professional Investors and Syndicators are incentivized with carry on the deals they source, vet and close.
Q: How big are the checks you write?
A: Thanks to our deal management platform, we can invite Investors with tickets from $10,000 to $100,000 and above to participate, which means that we can get more capital to vetted ventures, quickly.
Q: How do I join Diffuse?

A: If you are a professional Investor, Entrepreneur, VC, Syndicator or Individual Investors and would like to be a part of Diffuse, join us.

Q: What does “carry” mean?
A: When a Syndicator refers an Investor to an investment, the Syndicator is remunerated for the effort with a percentage of the eventual profit of the investment.
Q: Why is paying a carry better than paying a commission?

A:

  • It aligns interests for the longterm success of the investment. 
  • Ensures that ALL of the invested capital goes to the Entrepreneur vs paying a cash commission.

Our Partners 

Testimonials

“The thought of starting a Venture Fund, as a first time VC, was very overwhelming. Legal Prep, Admin, Capital Raising, Sourcing deals…the list goes on, I didn’t know where to start, and didn’t know the right questions to ask.

“I feel very fortunate to have met the Diffuse team. I would be making mistakes a first time VC fund cannot afford to make without them. In less than two months, I got first hand education in creating deal memos and negotiating term sheets. We are set to raise capital for our newly formed fund and already make our first investment. Thanks to Kenny and the team, we were able to accelerate our plans by at least a year. We now have the ability to focus on raising capital and sourcing high quality deals. If you are a first time VC or thinking about it, Diffuse should be at the top of you mind to assist you.”

– Michael Cavanaugh, Founder, FinTech Ranger

“Being a VC in the midwest means closing on larger rounds takes longer and is generally more difficult than the coast, even when we step in as lead investors. Diffuse helps solve that problem and allows investors to get compensated when we bring value to the equation, both as Leads and Syndicators. This is a win-win for everyone.”

– Brad Zapp, Founder, Connetic Ventures

“Diffuse’s network of investors and institutions attracts a high value, vetted investment opportunities that few can match. The fact I can share this with my own network and share in the carry is a big plus.”

– Brian Wall, Co-Founder, Bridge Alternatives

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