Cindy Padnos is an innovator and an advocate for all things entrepreneurial. She is a founder (both of a VC-backed tech startup and a VC firm), with a passion for enabling experimentation that can lead to the discovery of new business models and unique points of leverage. Cindy bleeds B2B/Enterprise Tech – gaining the moniker “Queen B2B” and a place at the table with the top institutional investors in the category.

Cindy has been working with enterprise technology startups for more than 20 years – as a founder, operating executive, adviser, or investor. She founded Illuminate Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture capital firm that invests exclusively in enterprise cloud and mobile software companies. Illuminate seeks entrepreneurs that are “re-inventing the enterprise” with products that deliver dramatic productivity and decision making improvements while leveraging better, faster, cheaper – cloud technologies and innovative business models.

Prior to her investing career, Cindy led several successful venture-backed entrepreneurial efforts. She was the founder/CEO of Vivant (now part of Oracle) an early Software as a Service (SaaS) company. She was CEO of Acumen, orchestrating a profitable M&A, and VP Marketing for Scopus, helping position this early CRM company for its successful IPO. Early in her career, Cindy served as a management consultant at Booz Allen and Arthur D Little.

Illuminate is particularly interested in companies delivering:

– B2B SaaS applications and infrastructure

– Application of AI and blockchain technologies to the Enterprise

– Enterprise mobile solutions

– Predictive and prescriptive analytics that improve business results

– Business model innovation enablers

– Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)”

Cindy is also an investor at various companies, such as Jacobi, Cafe X Communications, Bedrock Analytics, Peerlyst, ChannelEyes, Pyze Inc., JetStream Software Inc. Influitive, Hoopla Software, Xoupang, Contentstack, BrightEdge, and Allocadia.

During this interview we cover:

00:00 – Intro

02:09 – Early SaaS Experience from Raising VC Capital to Acquisition

15:00 – The Decision Behind Illuminate Ventures and Transformation to what it is today (Metrics)

22:21 – Experience & Perspective on the Volatility of Deal Flow Investments with the COVID-19 Pandemic

24:10 The Value of a Dollar & Current Challenges in the COVID-19 Environment

26:18 How Founders Deal with the Slow Down in Decision to Buy or Renew Software from Customers and Some Strategies for the New Normal

31:34 What Illuminate Ventures Share with Startups Beyond Capital Support

38:46 What is a Founder Heroic & Why Any Founder Should Aim to Become One

40:54 Cindy’s Winner Startup Criteria for Investing

42:29 Cindy’s Turn Down Startup Criteria for not Investing






Jennifer Savage

Ken Goldman

Michael Stonebraker

Chris Cabrera

Gary Swart “The future of work Ep.”


Illuminate VC

– Vivant Corp.





People Soft


– Evolve

Express Ventures







Get in touch with Cindy:

Cindy’s LinkedIn Profile

Cindy’s Twitter

Tag us & follow:





More about Akeel:

🐦 Twitter

💼 LinkedIn

🔈 More Podcast Sessions


The Current VC Seed Stage Investment Market & Some Key Metrics to Pay Attention Post-COVID for SaaS Founders With Cindy Padnos [SDI]#29

Cindy Padnos is an innovator and an advocate for all things entrepreneurial. She is a founder (both of a VC-backed tech startup and a VC firm), […]

#28 Top Challenges that Cost SaaS Startups $100k+ Each Year & How to Avoid Them with Marketing Innovation with Oren Greenberg

Oren Greenberg is the founder of Kurve – a modular growth marketing consultancy with experience of helping FTSE 250s and funded startups to navigate the perilous […]

# 27 How to Perfect the Onboarding Process for Improving Customer Experience and Reduce Churn with Jeff Epstein

Jeff is an entrepreneur, team-builder, hustler & investor. He is the founder of which is a SaaS made specifically for customer implementation to automate, optimize & […]

#26 Managing Hyper-growth Campaigns and International teams for B2B SaaS Companies with The Chapman Brothers

The Chapman Brothers are the Co-Founders of SocialChaps, a Marketing Agency described as a no-nonsense B2B agency focused on growing pioneering businesses by understanding them and […]

#25 How to Hire Professionals and Freelancers Effectively Online and NOT get Burned with Liz Pearce

Liz Pearce is the CEO of Seattle-based Fresh Chalk, where they aim to build a faster and more efficient way to find highly-vetted professionals, everything from […]

Q2 Deals Review at HoriZen Capital and 2020 Goals with Pierre Heurtebize [SDI]#24

Doing something a little different for this episode. I want to make it more personal and openly share what’s going on behind the scenes inside HoriZen […]

#23 Leveraging the 4 Rules of Smart Budgeting to Grow your Startup with Jesse Mecham

Jesse Mecham is a founder, CEO, and Bestselling author of You Need a Budget, which is not only an award winning software and proven budgeting tool […]

#22 The Impact of Branding and Building Innovative Digital Products When Launching your StartUp with Dmytro Grechko

Dmytro Grechko is a self-taught Entrepreneur & Software Engineer who found his passion & borrowed his inspiration from the constant process of learning and meeting new […]

Where to Invest Your Digital Marketing Budget in 2020 with Neil Patel [SDI]#21

Neil Patel is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and analytics expert who specializes in SEO and digital marketing, he has co-founded several marketing tech. companies including KissMetrics, […]