Last month at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the investment arm of Irving-based cybersecurity company Trend Micro—Trend Forward Capital—held a number of events, including its Forward Thinker Award offering $10,000 cash prizes to each of six winning finalists. Now, it’s planning a startup event in Dallas in May.
Trend Forward Capital doubled the prize money for the award at this year’s CES Jonathan Chang, partner at Trend Forward Capital, told Dallas Innovates.
The six winners were chosen from a field of 24 finalists based on pitch decks and video introductions with the award recipients selected at a pitch-off competition at the event. Chang said the pitch competition showcased visions on how to “unlock the potential of a smarter, connected world.” A goal of the award, beyond the prize money, is to offer the startups exposure and networking opportunities to give them a leg up.
“CES is where some of the greatest minds in the tech industry gather in one place from all over the world, from global enterprises to early startups,” Chang said.“The conference allows us to reach a wider audience of innovative entrepreneurs and give them the chance to advance their ideas further.”
Trend Micro’s venture arm was established in 2017 as a way for the company to support technologies that will add value to the connected world and is led by Chang and VCs Partha Panda and Keith Foster. The three have experience building successful companies in various industries and understand the importance of building transparent, collaborative partnerships to help move the businesses they invest in forward, Chang said.
Searching for disruption
Forward Capital’s philosophy is to invest in bold ideas that spark conversations and make the world smarter.
That includes startups with a strong purpose to improve the world, courage to make a rift in their industry, and on the business end, to demonstrate monthly increases in revenue. The group’s sweet spot is Series A- and Series B-stage companies with products or services making waves in their industry, Chang said.
“We look for early-growth companies that inspire us and develop technologies designed to add value to our connected world. We back entrepreneurs and innovators who are solving problems and have enough curiosity to search for what’s next,” he said.
Another investment philosophy is the group doesn’t invest for quick acquisition or short-term payoffs, but instead looks for long-term relationships that allow Forward Capital to amplify what the startup does well.
The first place Forward Capital looks for investment is the company founders, particularly for early stage startups. Chang outlined a series of questions the VC team asks about the potential investment:
- Are the founders bold and passionate enough with their idea while at the same time remaining humble enough to constantly learn and experiment?
- Have they assembled a stellar team around themselves that compensates for their weaknesses and refuses to live in an echo chamber?
- How is the team assessing its ability to mine the two most valuable commodities to early startups: user data and customer feedback?
Once Forward Capital makes an investment, it is “absolutely hands-on,” Chang said. Startups are guided from launch to change-maker, and the process isn’t a cookie cutter model.
“Every entrepreneur or business needs different types of support, at varying points in their journey,” he said. “We offer a flexible approach and provide go-to-market expertise, funding, cybersecurity solutions, business expertise and the support of our global resources.”
Right now, Trend Forward Capital doesn’t have any investments in North Texas, but it has an event planned for May in Dallas, and Chang said startups and entrepreneurs should stay tuned.
“We welcome tech startups from the area with breakthrough ideas to reach out to us or submit applications for our future competitions,” he said. “We’re always looking for promising technology startups with a growing base of satisfied customers.”
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.