How An Alumni Connection Led AVG to Sapho—Which Was Acquired for $200M
Ryan Burleson | Producer, Founders & Funders
Though Alumni Ventures Group is now comprised of more than 20 venture capital funds, it started with just one: Green D Ventures. The idea was to create a new kind of venture fund, one based on affinity and access—Green D, founded in 2014 by Mike Collins (D’86) would pool capital exclusively from Dartmouth alums to invest in Dartmouth-connected businesses, and it would provide those alums with enhanced access to an asset class that had previously only been available to the uber-wealthy and institutional investors.
One of the fund’s first ten investments was in Sapho, a micro-app platform founded by Fouad ElNaggar (D’98). Collins had heard a lot of buzz about the company through casual conversations with another Dartmouth alum, and he was impressed not only by the product and its positioning, but also by the fact that ElNaggar had hired several Dartmouth alums to work for Sapho in the Bay Area. The ascendant company soon became a portfolio company in Green D’s very first fund—and received more capital from Green D in its second fund.
By 2018, when Sapho was acquired for $200M by the tech giant Citrix, the young Dartmouth-connected company had attracted nearly $28M in VC funding from top VCs at Bloomberg Beta, Green D, Alsop Louie Partners, and AME Cloud Ventures. And it provided a great example of how venture capital investment through AVG could generate both profit and goodwill in an alumni ecosystem.
In this segment, Founders & Funders producer Ryan Burleson tells the story with help from Mike Collins and Green D’s current investment team, Managing Partner Laura Rippy (D’89) and Partner Lacey Johnson (Tuck ’13).