What We Do
Illuminate’s focus is on finding, funding and accelerating great founders in the B2B/Enterprise cloud and mobile computing space. We focus on companies building SaaS applications as well as solutions that leverage data and mobility to improve business results. We seek innovative ideas led by talented teams – frequently bringing together diverse perspectives that marry “creative destruction” with new technologies to solve old problems in new ways.
Illuminate is typically a startup’s first institutional investor, but can also be a fit for an established company seeking its first equity financing. Our sweet spot is Series Seed rounds – filling the gap between angel capital and larger funding rounds of traditional VCs. When the timing is right, we collaborate with the best large-scale firms for the next round of financing, but we love lean start-ups that preserve flexibility in their early years.
With three funds under management, Illuminate has been an early investor and board member in deep technology platforms like BrightEdge Technologies (SEO market leader), SaaS applications like Xactly Corporation (NYSE: XTLY) and early market innovators like Influitive (customer advocacy).
If you are an entrepreneur that wants to reinvent business as we know it – let’s talk!
How We’re Different
“Cindy and the team at Illuminate have been incredible believers in the Contentstack journey from the very beginning. As some of our best advocates, they not only provide valuable mentorship, but are always willing to go the extra mile to make meaningful connections that help fuel our growth.”
“Every great relationship starts with trust. After working with Illuminate from seed funding to acquisition of Sense, I knew I wanted to work with Illuminate again if the opportunity arose. I couldn’t be happier to have Illuminate as an investor in Continual IQ and would recommend Illuminate to any enterprise SaaS founder.”
“We are very grateful to have Illuminate as our first institutional investor. Cindy and Jennifer have provided consistently practical and helpful advice, and have opened up to us their considerable networks of advisors, other investors and potential customers.”
“The most significant value of working with Illuminate has been the hard questions they ask and the practical advice they provide. Their deep expertise and rolodex in enterprise software has given us an unfair advantage to increase our odds of success.”
The Illuminate team and their advisors added the depth and experience of enterprise SaaS veterans combined with passion and energy of early stage entrepreneurs. Sometimes you need the expert whose been there before and other times you want someone to roll up their sleeves alongside you. Illuminate is there for both.”
“You know your partner when things get tough and tough they get. Illuminate was with us through the best and the worst. I can’t imagine a better partner for the rainy days.”
“The Illuminate team has been a tremendous partner in accelerating Bid Ops’ growth, rolling up their sleeves to make key customer intros and spotlighting our throughout the SaaS industry. They have been amazing when it comes to strategy discussions. It makes a big difference that they have such robust startup operating experience.”
“The refreshing thing about Illuminate is their singular focus on Enterprise Software. With most VCs, Enterprise is part of their portfolio, but with Illuminate, it is 100% of their focus and that shows in their expertise, connections and depth of knowledge.”
“Illuminate has delivered exactly what we were seeking. Cindy’s experience as founder of a SaaS company and seasoned investor in the enterprise software space is invaluable in shaping our success.”
“Illuminate has offered value that goes well beyond typical Board participation – teeing up a host of C-level contacts to accelerate both the time frame and the likelihood of our market leadership.”
“Illuminate Ventures went above and beyond in every way. Their impact was tremendous for the company on a large scale and for me personally as a first time entrepreneur.”
“Illuminate Ventures has been a great advocate – always offering practical advice. They have helped us to accelerate our business and to better understand how to scale the company overall.”
“It was great to have Illuminate Ventures as an investor. We quickly recognized the value that Cindy and her firm could bring, allowing Illuminate access to our much sought-after initial funding.”
“The Illuminate Ventures team is extremely hard-working and helpful. They have opened up doors to an incredible list of people who we would have never had access to without them.”
“Illuminate Ventures has been with us since the very beginning and has provided incredible support. We continue to benefit tremendously from their mentorship, enthusiasm, confidence, and connections.”
“Cindy has been a great mentor and a trusted friend for more than a decade. She has shared great advice drawn from her experiences as an executive, entrepreneur, CEO and venture investor.”
In the increasingly crowded world of venture capital, many more firms are producing research as way to differentiate themselves from the pack. Now Illuminate Ventures, a nine-year-old, woman-led, early-stage venture firm that's focused on enterprise cloud and mobile computing startups, has produced some thought-provoking research of its own around how women and male founders[…]
My San Francisco Bay Area-based venture capital firm, which has long-focused on investing in enterprise software startups, has explored several of these new entrepreneurial hubs, and recently decided to double-down to emphasize involvement in one such place in particular: the greater Pittsburgh area […]
In this episode with Cindy we discuss: How Cindy made her way into the world of SaaS and later SaaS investing. Why does Cindy think SaaS is a democratizer for entrepreneurship? Is the proliferation of Sales and Marketing tools not a challenge for startups in terms of competing for the same VC dollars? […]
Cindy Padnos ascended the ladder of success by incrementally climbing down in the sizes of the businesses where she absorbed, advanced, innovated. Eventually, she co-founded her own firm, Illuminate Ventures, and found her niche in venture capital.
A recent PWC MoneyTree report indicated a drop in VC funding amount and number of deals since the highpoint in 2015. Two Silicon Valley Venture Capital Managing Partners discuss the recent changes in the funding and valuation models as well as the focus on where a VC can add value. Guests are Cindy Padnos, Managing Partner of Illuminate Ventures and [...]
Stanford Technology Ventures – Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series: An Enterprising Approach to Investment
In this live video interview conducted on campus at Stanford, Cindy Padnos is interviewed by chaired professor Tom Kosnik. Shares her experiences as both a prior tech startup entrepreneur and as the founder of Illuminate Ventures, an early/seed stage Venture Capital firm. Also available as podcast http://stanford.io/WvhccN.