Industry Veterans Neil Sequeira and Trae Vassallo Team Up to Launch Defy Partners

Early Stage Venture Firm Debuts with Oversubscribed $151 Million Fund

WOODSIDE, Calif., Nov. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Defy Partners, an early stage venture firm, was formally launched today after raising an oversubscribed $151 million initial fund. The new firm, led by long-time venture capitalists, Neil Sequeira and Trae Vassallo, was created to address the underserved part of the venture landscape — often referred to as “The Series A Gap.” By focusing on this transformative stage, Defy plans to not only make investments in previously seed-funded companies, but also to provide hands-on guidance to help companies mature and scale into those ready for growth capital. Defy set out to raise a $125 million fund, but increased to $151 million based on significant interest and demand from their institutional, long-term venture investors which include endowments, foundations and non-profits.

Defy’s investment strategy will concentrate on teams and technology converging around diverse ideas, underserved markets and tough challenges. The firm hopes to lead in most instances and periodically partner with other firms to invest in companies seeking funding after their seed rounds. Defy’s approach to the “Series A Gap” is to offer both the right amount of funding as well as real-time product help and sophisticated guidance on everything from how to establish and manage a board, sell and land strategic partners, drive customer relationships and create a strong culture. Recognizing that the line between consumer and enterprise companies is blurring, the firm is open to investments in both markets.

Defy is an equal partnership with both Neil and Trae serving as co-founders and managing directors. Together they bring more than 40 years of complementary experience in venture capital, entrepreneurship, enterprise and consumer product development, marketing, and strategic counsel to the firm. Neil, a former managing director at General Catalyst was an early investor in the Honest Company, Vitrue and Elemental. As a seasoned strategist and corporate executive, he guides companies as they grow their customer base through effective marketing and building strategic connections. Trae, previously a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, was an early investor in Nest, DropCam and Opower. As an engineer and entrepreneur, Trae understands the cycles that go into product iteration, creating company narratives and building cultures for success.

Committed to building a full-service firm, Neil and Trae are joined at launch by Purvi Shah, chief financial officer and Phebe Tran, chief of staff both of whom previously worked at General Catalyst. Defy’s team-based investing approach allows the entire group to help guide and grow the Defy portfolio. The size of the firm and slower investment pace will translate into more time and availability for entrepreneurs.

“The opportunity to roll-up my sleeves and work alongside entrepreneurs is exactly why I started Defy,” said Neil Sequeira, co-founder and managing director of Defy. “I feel very fortunate to pursue my passion for working with early stage companies from beginning to growth. Defy is right-sized to help entrepreneurs find conviction in their thesis and drive their new ventures toward success. We are lucky to have attracted some of the strongest, most thoughtful and long term focused limited partners in the country as we seek to build a multi-generational firm vs. just a fund.”

“We’re at a time in venture capital when the need to look at diversity in thought, ideas and leadership is paramount," said Trae Vassallo, co-founder and managing director of Defy. “It was not my intention to join or launch a new firm after leaving Kleiner Perkins, but once I did my research, really looked at the industry and met Neil, it became obvious that the best way to do our part to impact change was to start fresh. At the same time that I’m helping entrepreneurs meet their goals, I’m also fulfilling my own dreams. Defy allows me to work with an amazing team, revisit my own entrepreneurial roots, and collaborate with talented and passionate founders."

About Defy Partners
Founded in 2016, Defy Partners is a new venture firm exclusively focused on early Series A, an underserved part of the venture landscape. The firm launched in 2017 after closing its first fund of $151 million. Defy was co-founded by long-term venture capitalists Neil Sequeira and Trae Vassallo, with a goal to invest in entrepreneurs and companies looking to solve complex problems. Defy’s focus is to help companies, after seed funding, mature and scale into companies ready for growth capital. The firm's founding team has more than 40 years experience in helping successful entrepreneurs grow companies like The Honest Company, Nest, Elemental, Dropcam and more. For additional information, please visit  Follow Defy @defyvc.

Media contact:
Jody Kramer
(650) 906-9842