Local VC Firm Fuels Startups Targeting Underserved Groups Despite Funding Slowdown

Volition Capital VP Claude de Jocas talks about her approach to fueling business growth during today’s investment slowdown.

Written by Ashley Bowden
Published on Aug. 08, 2022
Local VC Firm Fuels Startups Targeting Underserved Groups Despite Funding Slowdown
claude-de-jocas-volition-capital
Claude de Jocas, vice president at Volition Capital. | Image: Volition Capital / Built In

A vast and diverse array of innovators are constantly at work developing new solutions. As the business world becomes more vast and diverse, the venture capital industry is following suit. Claude de Jocas —part of the growing number of women venture investors in the U.S.— is working to fund companies targeting the needs of underserved customer bases. 

Having gotten her start working with consumer brands at a firm called L2, de Jocas found she had a knack for helping companies develop business strategies focused on digital transformation. Her work in optimizing brands for internet scale is what ultimately led to her role as a vice president at Volition Capital

Now that she’s been considered one of the top women leaders in the growth investment space, de Jocas told Built In about how she plans to help businesses scale in today’s venture capital market. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

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In the midst of the current venture investment slowdown, what has been your approach to empowering businesses?

I’ve worked more closely than ever with my portfolio companies on building a roadmap to self-sustainability — the point where the business is no longer reliant on external funding for growth. It’s particularly important for companies that are currently in-market to demonstrate that they are moving towards this goal. 

I’m in the fortunate position of already working with founders who have historically been very disciplined in how they deploy capital. In the last few months, we have been coaching founders to stay true to those roots. And because of this diligence, we’ve still been able to do new deals in this [current] market environment. 

 

What predictions do you have for startups within the tech industry as the market continues to change? What will those changes look like and how soon might they appear?

We’ve spent the last few years building up a portfolio of tech-enabled disruptors across a whole host of core consumer services. Volition Capital’s thesis is that companies with strongly recurring, non-discretionary consumer revenue streams will trade at a premium in a market downturn. I think we’ll see this play out, and our portfolio companies like Medly in the pharmacy category and Sensible Care in the mental health category will rightly benefit. 

We also love businesses with a price-driven value proposition in a recessionary environment, particularly those that can offer a cheaper price and a superior product. I’m also still bullish on companies that capture discretionary consumer spend, but I believe there will be a fight for quality in these categories — which is why we’re betting on strongly brand-led companies that differentiate in terms of how they resonate emotionally with the customer.

 

What aspects of the venture capital industry pique your interest?

As someone who specifically focuses on investing in growth-stage internet businesses, there is a certain humility to this role that I love. I try to allow my investment lens to be shaped as much as possible by what consumers are telling us they want — particularly when it’s counterintuitive. I’m really attracted to the idea of using data to better understand consumers’ desires, priorities and unmet needs.

 

As you work to fuel growth for a variety of startups, what long-term impact do you hope make?

I want to fund businesses that are addressing underserved customer bases with needs that are entirely different from my own. I think the best consumer investors are highly empathic and obsessively curious about the experiences of others. I’m proud to be involved in companies today that target customers who don’t look like me. I plan to continue to scale my impact in this way.

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