Starting a New “Walkabout”

walkaboutSome VCs describe themselves as “thematic” or “thesis-driven” investors.  These folks typically hone in on an industry sector or type of company, immerse themselves in the subject, meet as many similar companies as possible, and then invest in some.

Other VCs can be described as “opportunistic” which sounds like they have no particular strategy or rely on random chance, which isn’t really the case.  The reality is that there’s countless really smart founders out there thinking about a particular market opportunity 110% of their time.  So “opportunistically” being open minded about all the great teams of co-founders and broad range great market opportunities makes some sense.

There are great VCs of both stripes and in practice most fall somewhere along a continuum where purely opportunistic and purely thematic are at opposite ends.  I certainly am somewhere in the middle.  There are times when I’m focused more intently on a thesis but I always have my antenna up for great founders working in areas that I haven’t been thinking about as much.

I’ve been exploring a new theme recently… I’ll talk more about it publicly as my thinking evolves further. But I was trying to relate what this exploration has been like to someone this morning.  The best way I could describe it was as a “walkabout”.  This market opportunity isn’t entirely new to me, but it’s not a core area of expertise either.  So I’ve been educating myself about this market as much as possible, I’ve been meeting as many smart folks as I can in this space, and I’ve been trying to systematically map out where there’s room for disruption and where there isn’t.

So the best description was that I’ve embarked on a “walkabout” in this market space.  The end result might be nothing, it might be that I lead investments in one or more new startups in this area, and there’s even a chance we might look to incubate a company to go tackle this.  My journey is already underway and I’m excited…

Lee Hower

I’m an investor, entrepreneur, and helper of technology startups. I’m currently a General Partner of NextView Ventures, which focuses on seed stage internet-enabled businesses. I co-founded NextView in 2010 with my partners Rob Go and David Beisel. I started in the VC business as a Principal at Point Judith Capital, an early-stage firm. I joined PJC in 2005 and served as a Principal at the firm through early 2010. During this time I co-led investments in FanIQ, Sittercity, and Multiply and sourced investments in Music Nation and NABsys. Prior to becoming a VC, I was a startup guy myself. I was part of the founding team of LinkedIn, and served as Director of Corporate Development from the company’s inception through our early growth phases. Before that I was an early employee at PayPal, and worked in product management and corporate development roles through the company’s IPO in 2002 and subsequent sale to eBay later that year. I went to college at UPenn and received degrees from both the School of Engineering and Wharton School of Business.

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