Hi, I’m Travis Jamison, founder of SmashVC. I’d love to tell you a bit about my backstory, and why I started this company.

Hi, I’m Travis Jamison, founder of SmashVC. I’d love to tell you a bit about my backstory, and why I started this company.

(Disclaimer: This page is long and probably boring. Read at your own risk).

Like many investors, I started out as an entrepreneur. “Serial entrepreneur” to use the trendy term. I’ve founded roughly a dozen small businesses, all bootstrapped. I was in the trenches day-in and day-out, frequently working on multiple projects at once, probably just like many of you reading this.

Everything from SaaS companies, ecommerce shops, health products, and my personal favorite; my long-standing search marketing agency. I’m not going to lie, it’s really damn hard, and can go from extreme bliss to complete exhaustion and back all in a matter of hours.

I loved almost every minute of it.

Over the many years of grinding hard my entrepreneurial skills slowly improved (in my opinion at least). I got pretty good at getting traction on projects and executing quickly. As some of the projects continued growing far bigger than I ever expected, I wound up being lucky enough to have some take-off, leading to a couple of sizable exits.

Post-exits, I did what most do, I became “an investor” (insert eye-roll here). I allocated capital to just about every type of investment out there. Dozens of angel investments in traditional high-risk high-reward startups, an LP in half a dozen funds, dabbled in public equities, private debt deals, real estate, and last but not least… started buying small online businesses in their entirety to add to my growing portfolio. I was in search of “my thing”. A type of investing that I could latch on and pour my soul into.

So, guess which one I decided to double down on?

None of them. 

There is nothing wrong with any of the above types of investing, but they just aren’t right for me.

Angel investing is a lot of fun, but seeing 8 out of 10 companies go bust from throwing profitability out the window in the search for billions doesn’t sit right with me. Add to that a decade of illiquidity and stressed out founders and I’m just not the man for it. It’s not wrong (plenty get very rich), it’s just not really what I want to spend all my time doing.

Public equities have their appeal, but shoving my head in financials all day and being so far removed from the business just doesn’t tick the “winning at life” box for me. Also, what are the chances I could even beat the market? (slim)

And lastly, buying entire online businesses was the greatest teacher of all. It seems great in theory; I’m an experienced marketer who knows how to grow companies quickly. What’s not to love about acquiring some to do just that?

Unfortunately it doesn’t really work that way in practice. I’m good at getting traction, spotting opportunities, and quickly executing ideas. I’m pretty much horrible at absolutely everything else. “Managing” an existing project that is already 90% done is just about the worst productive thing that I can do with my time.

So, what’s the point of spilling to you my entire life story?

To let you know that I DID find what I needed to be doing, and who I wanted to it with. It is now what SmashVC is dedicated to.

I built SmashVC to be the type of partner, investor and mentor that I wished had existed for me earlier in my career. My life would probably be much different if it had.

dots-divider-light-green

At Smash, I want us to partner with existing profit-focused “lifestyle” businesses in order to:

1. Give the founder(s) a partial exit.

Instead of wondering if you should grow it or sell it, to have the option to only sell a portion of the company. To take some chips off the table, and keep the upside of continued growth. We’re open to buying anything from 5% to 50% of a business.

2. To be a partner, a real value-add investor.

Many VC’s claim to be “strategic” and a “value add investor”. Yes, some certainly do help out founders, but many more do basically nothing but complicate the founders life. We want you to keep being you, just with some help from people who have specialized skills and experience.

3. Literally do the work to help your company grow.

When I invest, I come with a world-class SEO agency at my side to help your business reach the next level. Those who co-invest with me on each deal all have unique mastery-level skills of their own, from techies, to ad specialists, to systems and outsourcing pros. We come ready to get our hands dirty.

arrow-handrawn-thin-straight-down

Why is Smash focusing on Businesses?

At this stage in my life, my priorities have changed a bit from just making raw dollars. Other things have also gained in importance.

I want to be:

  • Working in businesses that promote a high quality of life. I love and respect grinding hard, but the “startup mentality” has some serious drawbacks.
  • Working with people whom I enjoy spending time with, and who I would trust with just a handshake.
  • Working on the type of businesses that I can add the most value to. Unicorn hunting is what all the cool kids do, but I prefer something more personal where our skills will have more of an impact.
  • And finally, let’s be real. I think there is an opportunity to make solid profit from these investments. I believe this setup has the opportunity to be such and incredible win-win for all parties involved. This is what excites me.

I look back at when I was working on my (thus far) most successful startup. It was a SaaS product in the ecommerce space. I was such a n00b, and didn’t know what I was doing. Like so many with their first big success, I was so scared that something would happen and take it all away. How dumb would I look if I blew such a huge win? I also didn’t understand how businesses worked at that scale, and could have seriously used a mentor through it all.

This is why I wish something like SmashVC had existed at the time. I wish I could have sold part of the biz to take some chips off the table while getting some experienced guidance to help us grow. I could continue growing in peace, while knowing no matter what I came out ahead. Traditional VC’s, although useful for many companies, just wouldn’t fit into how we worked, what we focused on, and they don’t write founders a check (they write checks to businesses).

Based on what I’ve learned since then, I really hope to be able to give founders who are in the same situation more options, and an easier path.

arrow-dotted-curved-down

Want to discuss a potential partnership?

underline-marker-light-green

Let’s have a chat to get to know each other.