Case Studies
Kearny Jackson

Kearny Jackson

Kearny Jackson and Alto provide individual investors opportunities to access venture
capital’s returns.

December 4, 2023
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Venture capital has long been viewed as an alluring asset for business and finance leaders.

Venture capital has long been viewed as an alluring asset for business and finance leaders. Across lengthy time horizons, US venture capital has outperformed public markets. But it typically takes insider connections and deep industry expertise to know what sets venture investments up for success, and that’s a level of access individual investors seldom have.

Connections and expertise, arguably, are also what makes Kearny Jackson an exceptional presence in this space. In just five years, Sriram Krishnan and Sunil Chhaya, Co-Founders and General Partners at Kearny Jackson, have consistently spotted upcoming founders and high-value companies before many of VC’s biggest names.

"When you see something not working twice, you don't want to try again. That's the reason why founders end up choosing Kearny Jackson: 
We can provide insightful guidance to help them avoid mistakes we've seen across other companies."

Sunil Chhaya,
Co-Founder and General Partner at Kearny Jackson

The firm exemplifies the deep knowledge and industry connections that are foundational to VC success. Now, Alto and Kearny Jackson’s partnership stands to make their expertise more widely available to individual investors building their portfolio for retirement.

Kearny Jackson’s co-founders bring a track record of spotting top founders first

Kearny Jackson has two goals: See the big picture. Invest accordingly.

That’s why the firm seeks out the most promising founders in B2B SaaS, infrastructure, and fintech and acquires ownership in their companies as early as possible.

On a macro level, digital transformation is accelerating as tech (namely AI) and computing only grow more efficient. VCs have responded with their dollars: Dealroom reports that SaaS and fintech alone comprised more than 50% of venture capital funding in 2022 and 2023. By backing startups that lead this rising tide, Kearny Jackson has seen impressive results.

Most notably, Kearny Jackson was one of the first investors in pre-seed and seed rounds for:

  • Sprig, which raised $88M from a16z, Accel, and First Round Capital
  • Reprise, which raised $82M from Accomplice, Bain Capital, and ICONIQ
  • Cortex, which raised $57.5M from Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, and IVP

This track record has garnered interest in the firm from high-profile partners like Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Marc Andreessen, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Below, we’ll unpack how Kearny Jackson seeks to create those results — and how their new partnership with Alto is making venture capital and strategies like theirs more accessible.

3 reasons to diversify your portfolio with venture capital

As recently as 2015, only 3% of Americans could legally invest in startups. For decades, it hasn’t been an easy option: the requirements to participate made VC largely inaccessible.

At Alto, we believe that needs to change. Through an Alto IRA, anyone with a retirement account can invest in alternative assets and aim to diversify their portfolio.

Here are three reasons to consider adding venture capital to your tax-advantaged IRA.

1: Higher returns

Venture capital has been a top-performing asset class over longer time horizons. Those long-term horizons are an ideal fit for retirement investing.

2: Better portfolio diversification & risk mitigation

Similar to real assets like fine wine, fine art, and real estate like farmland, venture capital is largely uncorrelated to the public markets. That makes it a prime option as an investment vehicle to diversify and anchor a retirement portfolio.

3: More value in private markets than ever before

Today, there are half as many public equities as there were 20 years ago, while more cash and growth has moved to the private side. This shift is reflected by the allocation of many of the largest endowments and institutions.

5 reasons to make Kearny Jackson your VC entry point

As venture investing and its potential benefits grow increasingly accessible, what differentiates Kearny Jackson as an entry point for individual investors? In short, the firm works to do more than just identify promising investments.

Here are 5 ways Kearny Jackson works to help improve  performance and outcomes for every investment in their portfolio.

1. Kearny Jackson has the domain expertise to spot potential ROI

Kearny Jackson’s success is built on its founders’ combined decades of leadership in the tech and investment worlds.

Sriram Krishnan is a founder-operator and a Spotify, AngelList, and Tinder alum. He’s also an early angel investor and advisor to names like Figma, Notion, and AngelList.

Sunil Chhaya is an institutional investor who’s worked with Menlo Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and NextWorld Capital. Chhaya was also a driving force behind Kearny Jackson’s investment in Gong — a company now valued at over $1B.

Chhaya and Krishnan have developed a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t in their core focus segments. This helps them source and identify investments with confidence that they have promising potential for growth and returns.

2. Kearny Jackson’s investment thesis centers reliably high-ROI sectors

Through decades of industry leadership, Krishnan and Chhaya have formed a rigorously researched investment thesis, which calls for a highly focused portfolio on two fronts:

1. Sector & focus segments

Kearny Jackson operates within three strictly defined areas of focus: B2B SaaS, infrastructure, and fintech, all of which boast impressive projections for the next 10 years (more to come on this below).

SaaS

McKinsey estimated the global SaaS (software as a service) market was worth $3T in 2022 and that the sector could more than triple to $10T in value by 2030. This makes it especially impressive that Kearny Jackson has a history of being among the first in the VC space to identify these competitive deals.

Infrastructure

Digital infrastructure ventures are exploding as companies transition from data centers to flexible cloud and multi-cloud computing. The sector recently surpassed $100B in revenue and is projected to grow nearly tenfold by 2030.

Cybersecurity is one particularly resilient market in this niche, as companies aim to safeguard their increasingly exposed digital surface area. Kearny Jackson has tapped in through their investment in Strata.

Fintech

The fintech sector is shaping up to be more dynamic, competitive, and valuable than ever. Revenues are projected to reach $1.5T by 2030 and comprise 25% of all banking valuations worldwide. Here’s how Kearny Jackson has participated and benefited to date:

2. Limited fund size

Kearny Jackson complements thematic discipline with a relatively limited fund size, which can pay off for investors. According to PitchBook’s 2022 Global Fund Performance Report, US investment vehicles under $250 million have outperformed their larger counterparts in VC.

3. Kearny Jackson regularly invests in top founders before other VCs

Kearny Jackson believes in the power of a strong founder — not just to drive ROI, but to transform markets and industries. “We invest in people, their stories, their expertise, and their specific domain,” explains Chhaya. For instance, Kearny Jackson was first to back extraordinary founders like Eric Olden of Strata (ex-Oracle) and Gagan Biyani of Sprig (ex-Udemy).

Fully committed to early-stage funding, Kearny Jackson even backs certain exceptional founders pre-product. This confidence has allowed the team to invest in top founders before some of the biggest names in VC. Perhaps most notably, Kearny Jackson was one of the first investors in pre-seed and seed rounds for:

"When you see something not working twice, you don't want to try again. That's the reason why founders end up choosing Kearny Jackson: 
We can provide insightful guidance to help them avoid mistakes we've seen across other companies."

Sunil Chhaya,
Co-Founder and General Partner at Kearny Jackson

4. Kearny Jackson’s network drives funding and growth for portfolio companies

Kearny Jackson doesn’t just advise founders. They leverage their extensive network to add value to portfolio companies — sometimes even helping them access their next round of capital. They might make high-quality introductions to a founder’s next critical hire, major customer, or angel investor.

For instance, Kearny Jackson met Gagan Biyani at Sprig in its pre-product phase. With only an idea for an automated user-research platform, Krishnan and Chhaya believed in his potential. It paid off. Over the years, Kearny Jackson provided Sprig with:

5. Kearny Jackson tactically sets up portfolio companies for success

Krishnan and Chhaya have seen many ventures in their focus segments thrive and fail. They draw on these experiences to equip portfolio companies with clear direction and help them evade common pitfalls.

For every investment, Kearny Jackson aims to de-risk product and operations in five areas:

This hands-on, tactical value-add often results in accelerated product roadmaps or go-to-market motions — often driving outsized, quantifiable impacts for Kearny Jackson’s portfolio companies.

In a competitive landscape, Kearny Jackson’s potential for high-ROI early-stage investments stands tall

Kearny Jackson has earned its reputation as an early mover in B2B SaaS, infrastructure, and fintech investments — co-investing and leading deals with big names like Sequoia, Accel, and ICONIQ.

Yet, for too long, venture’s potential for outsized returns was reserved for high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors.

That’s why Alto and Kearny Jackson partnered to democratize access to venture capital, enabling qualified individual investors to:

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