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How Your Small Business Can Play in the Big Leagues Corporate venture capital funds are looking to invest in innovative startups. Here's how to cash in on the substantial resources of major companies.

By Michelle Goodman

This story appears in the November 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Terri Loewenthal
Software giant Salesforce invested in Sheri Atwood’s startup, SupportPay.

Sheri Atwood had all but run out of operating capital when she scored a meeting with Salesforce Ventures, the CRM software giant's strategic venture fund. "I was a day away from applying for food stamps and a week away from shutting down," says Atwood, founder and CEO of SupportPay, a child-support payment platform for separated parents.

Instead, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based entrepreneur nabbed investments from Salesforce and elite Silicon Valley venture capital firm Draper Associates in the same week. Suddenly, she had the attention of multiple angel groups, VC firms and family offices. "The moment I could say that Tim Draper and Salesforce were in, I emailed all these people who had been sitting on the sidelines, and then everybody wanted to invest," Atwood says.

In May 2014 SupportPay closed a $1.1 million seed round, with Salesforce contributing what Atwood calls "a large portion" of the kitty, despite not leading the round. This year SupportPay announced a $1.5 million seed extension. In all, 10 angels and investment groups contributed to the $2.6 million the startup has raised.