Noah Berkson was only a freshman in college when he started his own software company, eventually moving from Iowa to Chicago to foster its growth. After selling out of the startup, he was ready to do more. His next ventures included Doc And I, which helped indigent patient populations get access to affordable prescriptions; Site, a property assessment company that used drones to survey properties for commercial clients; and DevBase, a technical staffing firm that places global tech talent with companies from Fortune 500 to venture backed start-ups.
Eventually, Noah became a startup investor and advisor, investing in early-stage companies. He ran the EO Accelerator on their Chicago board, helping small companies reach their first million, and it was in helping these startups that he began to notice something. “While investing and dealing with technology startups, we realized a lot of these early-stage companies had a gap,” he says. “They have a hard time finding and properly screening technical talent, which makes the building process difficult and the chances of failure exponentially higher. We saw this gap and realized our technical expertise and network were just as valuable as our money.” It was then, along with partners Peter Larsen and Raul Henriquez, that Noah founded Candor Ventures.
Candor Ventures is a venture studio and fund with locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, that invests in early-stage, technology-centric companies. The partners are investing their own money, instead of relying on outside capital. Taking an agnostic approach, they work with tech companies in many diverse fields, including fintech, agriculture, healthcare, and more. Launched in early 2020, they maintained their investments through the COVID-19 pandemic, when many other firms were refraining from deploying capital. Noah instead, chose to see it as an opportunity for Candor. “It allowed us to get a crazy amount of inbound deal flow,” he says. “We were also able to help a lot of companies that otherwise wouldn’t have survived.” To date, Candor has invested in 17 companies with one exit in their first 18 months of operation. “We put capital in, but also help dictate the outcome of the companies we get involved in,” Noah says. “We’re very hands-on and drastically improve go-to-market speed with a proven process.” Noah and his team determine a company’s needs and then invest accordingly, making sure the companies have a predictable cost of technology. In addition, Candor supplies them with resources, including personnel such as software engineers, and works closely with each portfolio company to ensure success.
Though he is young, Noah’s entrepreneurial experience is already vast. He’s on the global board of Entrepreneurs Organization, which allows him to connect with business leaders from more than 50 countries and allows Candor to source deal flow from the world over, which in turn, helps more businesses grow and thrive. Noah is also part of Austin Capital, a single family office, focused on fintech and the next generation of banking. Noah’s goal for Candor is to invest in another 30 to 40 companies over the next two years, making Candor Ventures one of the largest venture studios in the U.S. “We want to be the premier place for entrepreneurs to come when they want to start or grow a business,” he says.
Managing Partner — Candor Ventures