My idle thoughts on tech startups
Unveiling NextView Ventures
Rob, David, and I are pleased to formally “unveil” NextView Ventures. While we haven’t kept our activities a total secret, we have tried to stay somewhat under the radar over the last six months. We’re now more public about the companies we’ve invested in, our collective ethos, and some of the great folks who are helping us build NextView.
The three of us have known each other for years and all of us have been both entrepreneurs/operators in internet companies as well as VC investors. Over the last several years, we’ve discussed several converging trends:
1) Seed Stage Capital Efficiency – Internet-enabled businesses can obviously be launched with far less capital than was required 5-10 years ago. Building very large scale companies can still require significant additional capital, but at the seed stage startups have incredibly low cost options not just for product infrastructure but also distribution and monetization.
2) Rise of Seed-Focused VC Strategies – In the last several years, seed investing has emerged as a distinct strategy with smaller pools of capital than more traditional VC funds investing throughout the lifecycle of startup companies. There are clearly different approaches for seed funds around issues of investment pace, follow-ons, even investing team structure. But whether you use the term micro VC, seed VC, or super angel fund… we believe seed-focused funds will be an enduring segment of the overall VC industry for decades.
3) Underserved East Coast Seed Market – We’re stage (seed) and sector (internet-enabled businesses) focused investors first and foremost, but our activities are concentrated in the Boston-New York corridor. While seed-focused investors have proliferated on the West Coast, we seen an extraordinarily robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Northeast which has some great seed investors, but remains largely underserved. We humbly hope to bring both capital as well as our experience as co-founders, VC investors, and board members of internet companies to help others through the challenges and triumphs of building transformative businesses.
4) Internet as Driver of Ongoing Innovation – Many of us in the startup ecosystem take this for granted and the internet continues to grow and change in many ways – rise of mobile devices, the social web, big data, and other forces. But it’s still worth saying here in 2011… the internet remains the largest driver of innovation likely to exist in my lifetime. It’s like railroads in the mid 19th century or electricity in the late 19th and early 20th century, and in the long scope of history the transformation catalyzed by internet has only recently begun.
Beyond just macro trends though, some very intrinsic factors motivated us to form NextView and I wanted to share a bit of the “genesis” story for our firm. Rob, David, and I all had great experiences and maintain strong relationships with the VC firms we left, but we’re all entrepreneurs at heart and that was certainly a motivation to build something new together. We wanted to found our firm as a partnership of like-minded individuals, with shared perspective as operators, investors, and digital natives. We wanted a whole that exceeded the sum of the parts, where each of us brought some unique assets and attributes to the table. And we wanted to create something that each of us would be thrilled to be a part of and help build over the next 15-20 years.
So although we’d known each other for a long time, we started talking in earnest about teaming up early last year. By mid 2010 NextView was born.
Rob, David, and I were having dinner with our spouses just a few weeks ago and reflecting on the last six months or so. We’ve had our occasional challenges along the way as well as our shared victories, as all great partnerships do. But I can’t imagine a better time or place to be a seed investor in internet-enabled businesses, or better partners to build a new firm with. All of us at NextView look forward to teaming up with many more great entrepreneurs and co-investors in the coming years. Hang on for the ride.