The secret of overnight sensations

2013 was a progressive year for venture capital, with many key players breaking the mold.

2013 was a progressive year for venture capital, with many key players breaking the mold. For example, AngelList's new syndicate platform challenged the traditional model by allowing individuals to band together to create their own virtual investment firms. Bloomberg's VC firm, Bloomberg Beta*, opened its operating manual, unveiling the tactics of the industry.

Perhaps most encouraging was the level of marketing support VC firms began giving their portfolio companies. PR, social, digital, and marketing are now core value-add services provided to attract top entrepreneurs and hot startups. The ROI is paying off -- heightened awareness of portfolio companies raises their perceived valuation and helps them compete more fiercely.  Founders appreciate having a seasoned marketing team they don't need to assemble from scratch, because it gives them the 'marketing air cover' to generate sales while growing their business. Limited partners are heartened to see their investments paying off, and the transparency is a win-win for everyone.

A great example of VC support benefitting a startup was the recent launch of ThinkUp. Anil Dash (who is also co-founder of the powerful consultancy firm Activate) released its valuation numbers in conjunction with Bloomberg Beta's operating manual. Not only did the move garner a great deal of attention, but the transparency also created good will so that current and future entrepreneurs could benefit from the information. Traditionally, these numbers are closely guarded.

Tech brands like Dropcam and Uber appear to burst onto the scene from obscurity to cultural phenomena overnight. A great deal of their success is owed to the VC firms and the ecosystems they create to support nascent companies. In an era when hotshots can become overnight sensations, outsiders looking in might assume there is a special formula reserved for startups and entrepreneurs only. Over the course of the week I'll talk more about how established companies and other asset classes can also harness the startup magic and benefit from emulating the VC model.

Donna Sokolsky Burke is co-founder and managing partner of Sparkpr.  

*Disclaimer: Sparkpr represents Bloomberg Beta, Dropcam and Activate.

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