Quick Take

ATO Ventures is a pre-seed and seed-stage Venture Capital fund based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We use market validation testing to help entrepreneurs increase the odds of success by identifying paying customers before launch.


We look for startups that are:

  • Pre-launch / Pre-revenue / Pre-funding
  • In industries associated with Health, Fitness & Wellness or Digital Media & Entertainment
  • Founded by tenacious entrepreneurs who have succeeded Against The Odds.

To be considered for investment, submit your startup here.

Get answers to some Frequently Asked Questions here.

Our Thesis

Through Market Validation Testing (MVT), we can dramatically increase the odds of success - ie, decrease the number of seed-funded startup failures - by proving out product-market fit before launch.

To ATO Ventures, a "valid market" means that there are actual paying customers in scalable, reachable numbers. Breaking this down:

  1.  Paying customers - You have obtained pre-sales, credit card numbers, Letters of Intent (LOI), Purchase Orders (PO) or similar proof of purchase or promise to purchase.
  2.  Scalable - Your identified target customer exists in large numbers (eg, University Graduates who majored in Economics or Business between 1985 and 2015 vs. Graduates who majored in Underwater Basket Weaving in 1965)
  3.  Reachable - It is easy to find and contact these target customers at a cost that supports profitability.

Market Validation Testing (MVT), then, is the process of conducting experiments, or tests, to ensure that there are enough paying customers who are willing to pay a profitable price in markets that are both scalable and reachable.

The concept of Market Validation Testing (MVT) was developed by our founder, Jennifer P. Hopp, and it is the same methodology around which she built Valid Startup, an online program that walks founders through the process of starting a business, step-by-step. This program is also the basis for the ATO Ventures' incubator program and will soon be the core curriculum for several university entrepreneurship courses. The ninth Module takes founders through the process of MVT, and it is at this point that they become a candidate for ATO Ventures funding. 

Whether a startup completes the Valid Startup program or comes to us another way, our process is the same. We have a two-investment approach to backing pre-launch startups. We first make a small, pre-seed investment that is earmarked for MVT. If the startup passes the test, we then make a larger, seed investment that the founders typically use for completing the Minimally Viable Product (MVP) and going to market.

As part of the process, we identify an outside team to design and execute the tests as well as track the data and draft the final reports. This MVT team works extremely closely with the startup founders and the ATO Ventures team, including Jennifer, throughout the MVT process. 

Why MVT? The number one reason seed-funded startups fail is post-launch discovery that there is not sufficient product-market fit. In other words, there are not enough people willing to pay a profitable price for the product. ATO Ventures’ mission is to make sure that doesn't happen to any of its portfolio companies. We are so adamant about the need for startups to conduct MVT before launching that they developed the two-investment approach described above to ensure startups have the capital and resources necessary to complete the process effectively and in an unbiased manner. 

At the end of a successful MVT project, startups working with ATO Ventures have their first revenue, a proven Go-to-Market Strategy and an additional seed investment for product completion and launch. You can submit your startup for funding consideration here

Jennifer P. Hopp

Successful Entrepreneur, Investor & Tech Influencer

Jennifer is the Founder and Managing Partner of ATO Ventures. Prior to starting the fund, she had been investing as a Limited Partner (LP), Venture Partner, Angel, and Venture Capitalist (VC) for over 20 years. Not one to shy away from calculated risk, she began investing in the capital markets at age 19, while an undergrad at The University of Oxford, to help pay for school. Graduating early, Jennifer was able to use her last year of tuition money, along with her stock market gains, to become an LP in a Venture Capital fund at age 23.

Several years later, she became a Venture Partner, and then an active startup advisor and Angel Investor. She has had nine exists so far. 

A born entrepreneur, Jennifer began building companies long before she started investing. 

As an entrepreneur, Jennifer's first company was a lottery scratch-card called "The Jenny Game" that she made and sold to her fellow eight-year-old classmates. She officially became a tax-paying citizen at age 10, buying, reselling, and delivering newspapers. From carnivals in the front yard to cookie sales, and eventually a legit office job at 13, business acumen is in the fabric of Jennifer's being.

After college, Jennifer was a testifying & consulting Commercial Damages Expert before returning to her passion - entrepreneurship! In 2011 she founded her software company, WeMakeItSafer, shortly after business school at UC Berkeley. She successfully sold the company in 2016.

Along the way, Jennifer also held two interim CEO roles and has been advising startups on identifying revenue models and the importance of validating markets before launch, drawing on skills she acquired while building her own businesses. Now, Jennifer is using her expertise to help other investors achieve higher returns at lower risk through ATO Ventures.

Jennifer began visiting Puerto Rico as an angel investor in 2016 and quickly fell in love with the island. She is now happy to call Puerto Rico her home and is fully committed to supporting and growing the quickly emerging startup ecosystem in PR.

The best place to connect with Jennifer is on Instagram: http://instagram.com/Hopp.vc

 

Learn more about Jennifer:

Hopp.vc Website
Instagram @Hopp.vc
LinkedIn @JenniferPHopp

Jennifer Hopp bio pic

Career

  • Founder & MP, ATO Ventures (present)
  • Founder & Author, Valid Startup (present)
  • Founder  & CEO, WeMakeItSafer (acquired)
  • Interim CEO
    • IMCo (funded)
    • Stealth entertainment co
  • Commercial Damages, Litigation Consultant
    • ERS Group (principal)
    • Navigant Consulting (senior consultant)

Education

  • MBA: UC Berkeley, Joint Program w/ Haas School of Business & College of Engineering
    • Honors
    • Community Fellow
    • Certificate in Entrepreneurship
    • Certificate in Management of Technology
  • BA: UC Berkeley, USA + University of Oxford, UK
    • High Honors/Magna cum Laude
    • Double Degree:
      • Economics
      • Japanese
    • Completed in three years (self-funding makes you study fast)

Personal

  • Mind: Meditation, journaling, music and prayer.
  • Body: Healthy eating, weightlifting, long walks and swimming.
  • Spirt: Two amazing children, one incredible boyfriend and extreme gratitude for life.
  • Fun: Travel, adventure, research, brainstorming and creating.