by Laurie Sullivan @lauriesullivan, January 15, 2024

The marketing industry may get a boost this year, but not the way some might expect. One
venture capitalist said most startups in 2024 will likely not get a second look for funding
without a solid marketing strategy for their business.

“We call it 'unstealthing'," said Krish Ramadurai, partner at Harmonix Fund, which is
investing in companies focused on healthcare and sciences, as well as other practices. “If
you’re trying to raise money, people need to be able to search on Google to find you. The
bar is elevated back to normal where you can’t just have a shiny pitch deck and fun idea.
You really need an internet presence.”

That presence in search-engine results on Google and Bing typically requires the expertise
of search engine optimization (SEO) experts.

A stealth mode startup is a new company operating in secrecy to protect its product
launches and other business initiatives from competitors. The process of “unstealthing” a
company typically appears as the second item on a board meeting agenda.
It focuses on how to get more information out into the public. Institutional investors need to
know about the business, the products and the executive team.

Ramadurai said companies need to be “Googleable” and grab any media opportunity that
enables executives to “brag” about the business.

“It’s pretty difficult with an unknown company or product to get fundings,” Ramadurai said.
“You really need to get out there and market yourself and put together a strong capital
campaign to get investor dollars.”

Today the average size of a venture fund is about $80 million, but the company is raising a
$100 million fund, focusing on the first close of funding to come at the end of January.
Liquidity, returns and legacy with the funds with good data, rather than a pop-up shop.
The scenario is quite different from 2021, when super stealth companies could raise money
without investors knowing much about the business. But now recognition is required to
“perk up investor’s ears to get capital.”

Insilico Medicine, a company in Harmonix’s portfolio, created a drug generated by artificial
intelligence (AI) and generative AI in human trials.

Those making a difference with generative AI in healthcare life sciences can develop
automation for workflow and make it a simple plug-and-play integration and strong, clean
data. Overall, Harmonix has seen about 6,000 deals in the past four years and has invested
in some 45 companies.

“Be a painkiller and not a vitamin,” he said. “You need to build something that someone
wants to pay for.”