Investment Philosophy

We invest in cutting edge web entrepreneurs, each of whom has, drive, passion, commitment, and strong business experience honed through a past success (or failure). They have superior business plans with a clear strategic vision of the direction their company is headed, but are flexible enough to be agile in a constantly shifting environment. Each of these companies will have a distinct and sustainable “early-mover” or competitive advantage. Finally, it should have a scalable, sound business model that shows a clear path to revenues and early profitability.

Westwood Ventures is interested in being equity partners, either directly or through convertible loans. We usually look to take a small minority position in each company, of sufficient size to allow us to make a meaningful contribution yet leaving the entrepreneur as its principal owner and decision maker.

We bring more than “dumb” funds to the investment by applying our own personal networks, experience and business acumen to each individual partnership.

Investment Characteristics

  • We look to invest $50K to $500k in seed, angel, or Series A rounds
  • We prefer companies that have low capital expenditures and no prior institutional investors with a focus on internet, software, and tech-enabled businesses

Meet the Partners

Joe Speiser
Holds a B.S. in International Relations from Columbia University in New York. Joe was born in Torrance, California and grew up in New York. He has also invested in 10 private companies over the years, and has recently had a baby girl. Joe enjoys competitive poker, and traveling to new and exciting locales.

Alex Zhardanovsky
Alex is a graduate of the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Canada where he majored in Marketing and minored in Finance. He has invested in over 10 private companies over the past few years. Alex was born in Odessa, Ukraine and in 1988, at the age of 11, immigrated to Toronto, Canada. He is also an avid snowboarder, and car aficionado.

About the Partners

Joe Speiser and Alex Zhardanovsky first met in the late 1990s while running competitive online coupon companies, each of which had been wildly successful as leading online discount shopping portals. Soon after the two met, they combined forces and began discussing the future of online advertising. The two visionaries saw that the web was quickly evolving and rapidly changing the face of advertising online and offline. They saw the potential of the web to be a viable vehicle for new businesses to be hatched, as well as a mechanism to attract the world’s leading brands. Based on this shared belief, Joe and Alex concluded that they needed to build a competitive web presence that would revolutionalize advertising by shifting traditional marketing outlets to online channels.

These two luminaries launched Epic/Azoogle in the fall of 2000. The goal at the time was to build a marketing company that would deliver quantifiable online advertising results and revenues for their partners, and be able to accommodate a wide variety of marketing channels and delivery methods to achieve their partners’ goals. In the ensuing 9 years, they have been widely credited with being pioneers in what we now know as the “Performance-based Advertising Network” industry. In 2004, they received large investments from TA Associates and the Stripes Group and brought in a strong management team to help grow the company from the airtight foundation they built. Although the company has always been in a very competitive marketplace, it largely stayed unknown to the general public in its early days. But during this time, they were quietly building out their customer roster to include large advertisers searching for the most cost-effective use of their ad dollars as well as establishing relationships with the most innovative online publishers in the business. Since inception, the company has always been profitable.

Their leadership in the early years of Epic/Azoogle helped spawn what the business has become and still is today: a widely-respected, industry-leading, performance ad network servicing advertisers and publishers alike. The company’s advertiser portfolio is impressive and includes hundreds of top tier online advertisers – many of them Fortune 1000 and Fortune 500 companies. The company’s publisher base and distribution is equally impressive and includes a vast network of tens of thousands of websites, search partners, e-mail publishers and media buyers. Epic/Azoogle’s Offices now employ over 130 people and operate in New York, San Francisco, Toronto and London, England.

On March 24, 2010, Epic Advertising merged with Connexus Coporation, owner of Traffic Marketplace, to create the world’s largest privately-owned performance network and search marketing company. Together with Connexus, Epic Media Group will reach over 80% of the US audience. After completion of the merger, Joe and Alex stepped aside to allow management to continue running Epic Media Group, and have founded a new start-up in New York,

PetFlow, raised a large round of venture capital from Lightspeed Partners in 2011, and succeeded in scaling to $50MM+ in revenue. Within the 4 years of operations, the e-commerce business hit profitability and revolutionized the online subscription business. In 2015, PetFlow was sold to a private group of investors, allowing the founders to re-focus their energy and passion on Today, LittleThings is the fastest growing, and most inspirational women’s media site in the US.