Sidespin Ventures is a pre-seed and seed stage firm providing capital, mentorship, and hands-on assistance to entrepreneurs building transformative technology companies.
What we look for
The ideal time for us to get involved is up to and including the Seed round. We look for fundamental technical innovation in a frontier technology (aka, ‘deep tech’) like machine learning and AI, new market creation, and a uniquely qualified team. We are sector agnostic, but exclude certain verticals, such as content, media, advertising, information arbitrage, and a few others.
Advice & Assistance
We do not require advisory shares to offer hands-on help. Call when you need us. We actively help our CEOs with strategy, messaging, recruiting, introductions, and whatever else is needed. Occasionally we offer to get involved as an advisor even if we do not invest, primarily to build a relationship towards a potential financial relationship.
We are highly selective, and only get involved with a handful of new companies each year. This also ensures that we can support our portfolio appropriately. Our investment size varies based on the opportunity. We typically do not lead rounds, and at the stages where we get involved, there may not even be a lead investor. We expect to support our companies via follow-on rounds through their Series A.
“Istvan is that rare breed of early investor who is both genuinely helpful and supportive. He has opened new BD opportunities for us, while also using his considerable machine learning domain experience to provide unique insights that have helped evolve our product and strategy.”
Alex Muller, Founder, SAVVI AI
“We really trust Istvan’s advice. About 40% of our sales pipeline is a direct result of his input.”
Michell Nikitin, CEO, Via.Delivery
“Putting Istvan on our cap table was one of our best early decisions: he has high standards, he gives direct and actionable feedback, he is reality-based, he is human. His value goes far beyond advice: he does real work for his companies, including (in our case) invaluable help with all aspects of our fundraise.”
Michael Walfish, Founder, Walrus Security
“Sidespin has been a true partner since Day 1 of our building this company. They stuck with us through ups and downs, and through our massive rollercoaster pivot. We literally couldn’t be here without Istvan’s care, expertise, and guidance along the way. Could not possibly recommend more. Thanks for believing in us!”
Vishal Punwani, CEO SoWork
Istvan Jonyer, Ph.D., Managing Director
Istvan is an investor, scientist, engineer, and serial entrepreneur with extensive research, development, and management experience in various areas of computer science with leading technology companies. Dr. Jonyer has been a venture capitalist with four funds covering frontier technologies like machine learning, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, and streaming media delivery.
At Google, he was responsible for launching Google TV (later Chromecast) devices with OEMs and SoC vendors such as Sony, Samsung, LG, Sharp, Vizio, Logitech, Intel, Marvell, and MediaTek.
Earlier, he designed 3G mobile communication systems for Nortel Networks. Istvan was also an assistant professor of computer science at OSU, with an NSF-funded machine learning research program.
Istvan holds a Ph.D. in Machine Learning from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Csaba Szabo, Venture Partner
Csaba combines more than 15+ years of sales, general management, and venture building experience across the United States, Europe, and Japan. He is an Advisor to Nomura Strategic Ventures and helped launch the Nomura – SRI Innovation Center.
Prior to joining Nagarro, Csaba rose through the ranks from Manager to Executive Director at SRI (Stanford Research Institute) and managed commercial engagements with global corporations from the United States, Europe, and Japan. He specializes in corporate development, technology commercialization, licensing, and venture building.
He started his career in central Europe, helping to scale an Energy as a Service company from 11 FTE to 600+ and through IPO as Head of Strategy, Sales, and eventually Managing Director for Poland and Romania.
Csaba holds economics and finance degrees from the EU followed by a Masters in Management at Stanford GSB. He is an Advisory Board Member for Silicon Valley Robotics, and several charitable organizations.
We are fortunate to have an amazing set of people helping us with due diligence and advising our portfolio companies. A few of our advisors:
- Product Manager of Large Scale Distributed Systems and AI/ML infrastructure (PhD), Google
- Distinguished Computer Scientist, AI/ML (PhD), Xerox PARC
- SVP, LG Electronics
- VP Finance, JPMorgan
- Strategic Accounts, Docusign, ex-IBM
- Product Manager, ex-Meta
- VP of R&D, Biologics Drug Discovery and Development, ex-Stanford
- …and many others.
In table tennis, the sidespin loop is a shot that has the ball spinning around its vertical axis, causing the ball to curve as it flies over to the opponent’s side. Istvan Jonyer, Sr., the four-time world champion table tennis player, is credited with inventing this shot and using it so effectively that the rules of the game were changed because of him. He was often able to curve the ball around the net, from extreme forehand positions, causing the ball to roll onto the table, making the shot unreturnable. We adopted the name Sidespin Ventures to honor his legacy and to remind us to be game-changing at whatever we do. Our logo is reminiscent of a paddle moving to hit the ping pong ball.
For startups, the best way to get in touch is via warm introductions. Due to our need to be selective, a cold outreach may not get the attention it truly deserves. Having said that, a specific single letter before the at sign will work. (Reaching out via other email addresses will not work.)