NextView’s Early Stage Startup Guide: Product


This post is by NextView from Blog – NextView Ventures

Welcome to the first installment of the NextView Ventures Early Stage Startup Guides. Over the years, we’ve worked with, and talked to thousands of founders just starting out. Every stage of building a company comes with a certain set of challenges, and we have written a lot of content around the earliest set of challenges. That’s why we decided to create a series of guides that help tackle some of these early stage problems. A collection of some of our greatest hits, and some new content, put into one helpful package for founders navigating building a company.

The first guide we are releasing is around product. Creating a successful company can hinge on whether or not you build a product that people want. However, as an early team, you probably haven’t brought on a full time PM yet. This guide will help you figure out how to navigate building a product people will love prior to hiring a full time PM, and figuring out when the right time to bring someone on is. we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. Challenges of Product Development
  2. Getting Great Feedback from Customers
  3. Thoughtful & Clever Product Experiences
  4. Building a Great Product Before Your First PM
  5. How to Hire the First PM

Moving forward, we’ll release more of these startup guides on other topics critical to the success of early-stage teams such go-to-market, hiring & talent, and fundraising. Stay tuned for these upcoming guides, and make sure to let us know which guide you would like to see next over on Twitter (@NextViewVC)!

 

Download guide today

 

Click to download

 

 

The post NextView’s Early Stage Startup Guide: Product appeared first on NextView Ventures.

Riskbook raises £2m for its hyperconnected marketplace for reinsurance placement


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

Health insurance, home insurance, car insurance — we all depend on various forms of insurance to protect ourselves from uncertainty. But what about insurance for insurance? How do you insure insurance companies who take on the risk of others? The answer is reinsurance. Insurers transfer portions of their risk portfolio to other parties in an effort to distribute the probability of large losses.

Co-founders Ben Rose (President) and Jerad Leigh (CEO)

Today’s $200bn reinsurance insurance industry relies on outdated technology to support insurance brokers. This is why we are excited to back Riskbook in a £2m seed round alongside our friends at Episode 1 Ventures and MMC Ventures. The team is on a mission to bring the reinsurance industry into the 21st century.

“Riskbook has managed to build out a highly talented team and bring to market a reinsurance platform that is getting extremely positive feedback from cedents, brokers, and reinsurers.”

— Sia Houchangnia, Partner at Seedcamp

Co-founders Jerad Leigh, Ben Rose, and Jezen Thomas have developed a hyperconnected reinsurance marketplace which provides a radically better placement experience for  both brokers and underwriters. Riskbook provides robust data capture, easy document management, threaded correspondence, and end-to-end placement management via an exceptional user experience for global reinsurance practitioners.

“We are excited to be partnering with leading venture capital firms to create the placing experience the reinsurance community has dreamt of for decades,” CEO Jerad comments. “Paired with Riskbook’s win-win-win philosophy, this new funding cements our role as a trusted independent provider to cedents, brokers and reinsurers alike.”

The team is using the round of funding to make key industry hires, develop their Lloyd’s-recognized digital placement platform, and allow Riskbook to scale to meet the needs of a growing global customer base of cedents, brokers, and reinsurers.

“Reinsurance is one of those massive industries that has been overlooked by most investors,” our investment partner Sia Houchangnia comments. “To disrupt such a complex industry, you do need the right mix of technical know-how and subject-matter expertise. That’s the reason why we got very excited when we first met Ben, Jerad, and Jezen a year ago. Since the pre-seed round we led, their execution has been extremely impressive. In a short amount of time, Riskbook has managed to build out a highly talented team and bring to market a reinsurance platform that is getting extremely positive feedback from cedents, brokers, and reinsurers.”

We are excited about the Riskbook team’s distinctive position to streamline reinsurance placement and modernize the industry to benefit practitioners globally.

VC Policy Pulse: the Volcker Rule with Mark Kvamme


This post is by Devin Miller from National Venture Capital Association – NVCA

Welcome to the first blog in our VC Policy Pulse series, where we speak with a VC investor on a policy issue that is having a major impact on the VC and startup ecosystem. Today, we’re hearing from Mark Kvamme, Co-Founder & Partner at Drive Capital and former NVCA Board Member, about the effects of the Volcker Rule on the startup ecosystem in the Midwest and how recent reform to the rule will increase VC investment and startup activity in the middle of the country.

Background

As a quick background on the issue, the Volcker Rule prohibited financial institutions from investing in covered funds to protect against systemically risky trading. However, despite the fact that barring bank investment in venture capital (VC) funds does nothing to accomplish the underlying objectives of reducing systemic risk in the financial system, venture capital was inadvertently swept into the definition of prohibited investments under the Volcker Rule. This prohibition does nothing to improve the health of the banking system, and created an unnecessary roadblock for capital formation, particularly in underserved areas where raising capital for venture capital investment tends to be more difficult.

NVCA has long advocated for reforms to the Volcker Rule to exclude venture capital funds from the covered funds prohibition. After many years of advocacy to lawmakers and regulators, NVCA was thrilled to see that several agencies have finalized a rule that will remove this needless regulatory barrier and encourage capital formation and greater entrepreneurial activity throughout the U.S. To gain more perspective on how this reform to the Volcker Rule will help emerging startup ecosystems across the country, we spoke to Mark Kvamme, who has been a leading advocate on this issue.

Q&A with Mark Kvamme

How has the Volcker Rule and its restriction against bank investment in VC funds impacted emerging ecosystems, and specifically, what impact has it had on the startup ecosystem in the Midwest?

When we founded Drive Capital in Columbus, Ohio, we were able to raise funds from traditional venture sources such as large endowments, charitable trusts, etc. as I had previously worked at Sequoia and developed strong connections with major LPs. But as I spent more time in the Midwest and spoke with other VCs in the region, I realized that one of the big funders of middle of the country VCs were local banks. It was a very important source of capital for most VC funds in between the coasts, and especially in the Midwest. When the Volcker Rule came in place and prohibited these banks from investing in VC funds, it had a dramatic impact on capital invested in the Midwest, heavily damaging the VC ecosystem in the Midwest and startup formation in the region. I have spoken to a number of VCs in Ohio that don’t exist anymore after the Volcker Rule. There were $100’s of millions that had been going into VC funds in the Midwest that ceased because of the Volcker Rule.

How might the regulators’ changes to the Volcker Rule, which will allow banks to invest in qualifying VC funds again, impact VC funds and startups in the Midwest?

I think this reform to the Volcker Rule will have a great impact. We’re going to see a lot of banks participate and invest in Midwest VC funds, which will not only be good for the banks and VC funds, but it will really help Midwest startups and their local communities. Drive Capital’s companies in Columbus alone employ about 2,000 people and create a great amount of economic value in their areas. This reform will have a dramatic impact in attracting VC to Midwest cities and increasing investment into local startups.

How will this change to the Volcker Rule help encourage investment into the Midwest ecosystem long-term?

To create a successful innovation ecosystem, it takes great talent, customers, size, and access to capital. The Midwest has amazing talent coming out of its many Universities, it has the customer base and the economic size (the Midwest would be the 5th largest economy in the world if it were its own country), but it’s the access to capital that the Midwest doesn’t have. We need more VC in the Midwest; we have all the raw ingredients, but we just don’t have the VC dollars. With local banks investing in these underserved markets through VC funds, we will see a great impact on access to capital in these areas, which could be the turning point that will start providing the Midwest with the capital it needs to become a true hub of innovation.

Now it’s time for VCs in the Midwest and other emerging ecosystems to know that this change exists. Top VCs are looking all over the world for new emerging markets to invest in, but the number one emerging market in the world is the middle of this country.

Who have been some of the key advocates (VC investors, firms, entrepreneurs, or organizations) that helped on this issue and pushed to make this reform happen?

When I was a Board member of NVCA, I spoke out about the impact the Volcker Rule was having on VC funds in the Midwest with the NVCA team. NVCA was integral in this, especially Bobby Franklin and Justin Field, who championed reforms to the Volcker Rule in D.C. for years. They saw how underserved areas in the Midwest were not getting the advantages that people on the coasts were seeing.

There were also a number of VCs, including Ray Leach, Rich Langdale, and others, who really helped make this reform happen.

What advice would you give to VCs or entrepreneurs that are interested in engaging on policy issues, like the Volcker Rule, that impact the startup ecosystem?

Obviously, get involved with NVCA, which protects and enhances the innovation ecosystem. Get a group of VCs and other participants in the ecosystem together to start working on the issue; talk to your local politicians and your local Congressmen to get things going and get your voice heard. Work with both sides of the aisle. When you come to your local politicians with something that’s reasonable and doable, folks will want to help get things done.

 

NVCA recently hosted a webinar for our members on the new reforms of the Volcker Rule. If you are an NVCA member and are interested in receiving a recording of the webinar, please contact Cassie Ann Kiggen at ckiggen@nvca.org.

The post VC Policy Pulse: the Volcker Rule with Mark Kvamme appeared first on National Venture Capital Association – NVCA.

Designing conversational experiences at Shipwell


This post is by David Poole from Georgian

Shipwell is on a mission to transform the shipping industry through technology—turning multi-leg journeys involving several parties and complex logistics into structured, predictable workflows that delight shippers around the world.

Success depends upon delivering visibility at scale. Doing so requires high-quality data—which is crucial to understanding where items are. But many traditional operators are still tracking trucks using whiteboards, paper and pencil, or even manual phone calls. 

In the long term, IoT will be part of any solution. Sensors placed on each truck can report its location, but implementing a solution like this broadly across the shipping industry is a multi-year process. Using conversational AI—automatically contacting drivers on the road to ask them for location information—is a first step toward filling in the gaps. With better data in hand, Shipwell can see where shipments are at risk of running late, and deliver the information and workflows that customers need to respond accordingly.

When Jacob Gordon joined Shipwell’s data science team, Shipwell’s CEO Greg Price quickly connected him with Georgian Partner’s Head of Product, Jason Brenier. An engineer by training, Price appreciated the potential of conversational AI for Shipwell’s business. 

To set the right strategy for conversational AI, the team drew on an in-depth knowledge of shipping industry dynamics and a thorough understanding of their users. Georgian and Shipwell identified the key personas—truckers, dispatchers, shippers, and 3PL management—and the most significant conversational AI opportunities for each. After scoring and prioritizing these use cases by business impact and cost/complexity, the team quickly honed in on Shipwell’s most critical business task: making sure goods get to their destinations on time. 

The team, which was composed of Max McLennan, Anna Kómár, Steve Chronister, Jeff Wilson, and Jacob, began a deep-dive on the problem. Voice emerged as a logical solution, as drivers aren’t always able to quickly answer a text or enter data into an app while driving. But a crucial decision was deciding what to ask them. To keep things simple, instead of asking, “How’s your trip going?” or “Are you running on time?” the team settled on a single, straightforward question: “What’s the nearest city?” 

By comparing driver responses to geographic databases, Shipwell captured highly accurate responses without having to develop a complex library of intents and responses. This built trust with drivers—a crucial step in setting the stage for future, richer interactions. 

What’s next for Shipwell? While an obvious solution might be to increase the number of calls and conversational touchpoints, the team plans to focus on enriching the existing touchpoint to provide additional value to the driver. For instance, conversational AI could inform drivers of upcoming places to stop or make suggestions on how best to time breaks to minimize traffic time. 

What advice would Jacob give to other companies looking to make their first foray into conversational AI? 

“Even if you think your first project is obvious, take a step back and assess all your potential opportunities. And pay close attention to the business value, not just how to execute a specific feature.” Jacob says it’s also important to start small: “NLP is an advanced technology, but one of the highest impact things you can do is constrain the responses to keep things simpler. Ask for something that’s not unnecessarily subjective, and make sure the results are readily automatable downstream”.

To see how this type of information provides valuable insights for shippers, take a look at Shipwell’s interactive dwell time map. The map allows shippers to benchmark facility buffer times, estimate delivery windows and compare wait times across facilities on their favorite lanes.
Are you ready to dive into conversational AI? Check out Georgian’s conversational AI resources or get in touch with Jason Brenier.

The post Designing conversational experiences at Shipwell appeared first on Georgian.

NVCA Member Spotlight: Hatzimemos / Libby


This post is by Cassie Ann Kiggen from National Venture Capital Association – NVCA

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to Oliver B. Libby, Managing Partner of Hatzimemos / Libby.

1. Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

Hatzimemos / Libby, or H/L Ventures for short, is one of the early venture studios, and we think one of the first focused on the nexus between growth, impact, and diversity.  On the spectrum of active support of portfolio companies, we would be on the most engaged side of co-building, providing consistent support to our founders throughout their entrepreneurial journey. The core of our investment thesis is daily active engagement with founders, hosting weekly calls with senior leadership to ensure that we remain helpful and relevant to our portfolio companies.

At H/L Ventures, we passionately believe that the best companies will have both high impact and high returns. It’s our experience that sustainable businesses and diverse founding teams enhance returns, and we believe that investing in companies that make positive societal impacts makes good business.

2. Where did your firm’s name come from?

Eric Hatzimemos and I have been working together, building an extraordinary partnership for 17 years. Eric has been a mentor, friend, and partner for all those years. When we started H/L Ventures in 2009, we agreed on the importance of integrity and being present for our portfolio company partners. So, even though we occasionally have to spell the company name out on calls, we keep both on the door as a sign of the very personal commitment we have to our entrepreneurs, investors, and team.

3. What defines your portfolio?

H/L Ventures is focused on the very relevant overlap between growth, impact, and diversity. As a venture studio, we are involved from nearly the very beginning (including sometimes co-founding!) to the exit. We are industry-agnostic, relying on our team and expert Trusted Partner Network to diligence and support companies from energy to health, and from food to AI. All of our portfolio companies track to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and 70% of our founders are of minorities that are underrepresented in tech.

4. How is the firm different today than when you first started?

When we started, Eric and I had the intention to create a firm that allowed us to co-build companies and have – as much as possible – aligned interests with founders.  We wanted to win alongside our entrepreneurs and partners. We didn’t know exactly the form that our model would take – and launching the month after the market lows of the ’08 financial crisis forced us to be dynamic. We would not have been able to predict that H/L Ventures would evolve into what people now recognize as a venture studio over the last 11 years. We experimented with the very structure of the venture firm, emerging as a holding company with a true company-building ecosystem.  From Eric and me on Day 1 to a team of staff, Venture Partners, Advisors, and partners that is around 60 people, we have come a long way (and yet, somehow, it still feels new!).

One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is our dedication to active engagement and our commitment to finding value at the nexus of growth, impact, and diversity – those through-lines have remained constant since we shook hands in 2009.

5. Why is your firm a part of NVCA?

I’ve found that people outside of the venture capital industry seldom understand how collaborative the ecosystem of investors and company builders truly is. And in order to best take part in building community for both our entrepreneurs and our firm, we felt that it was crucially important to be a part of the leading industry group in venture capital. Furthermore, we are big believers in the evolution of venture capital toward greater focus on impact and diversity and a more hands-on approach with portfolio companies. NVCA clearly represents one of the best platforms for promoting change within this exciting industry.

6. Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.

It’s difficult to say exactly what the current landscape is as a result of the coronavirus, but we believe that New York City and the broader tri state region is the most vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the U.S. today.

From an active angel investment environment, to a growing proliferation of funds at various stages, to proximity to the extremely active IPO markets, New York remains the capital of capital. The case is being made every day, as more and more companies from the early days of Silicon Alley experience valuable exits. In addition, the proximity of startups and companies across many valuable industries is undeniably the best in the world.

As Silicon Valley has made clear over the years, successive generations of extremely valuable companies generate the vibrant innovation and talent pools necessary to propagate entrepreneurship at an ever-greater scale. New York has intentionally invested heavily in its entrepreneurship ecosystem, and not even Covid-19 can dampen its spirit.

It is also very clear that NY investors and entrepreneurs are truly committed to building companies that have world-positive impacts, global views, and diverse founders and teams.

7.What’s ahead for your firm in 2020?

We anticipate both continued investment activity in our existing portfolio, as well as new activity from our robust pipeline. It’s important to note that investing in diverse founders has never been more important – a moment that we have been waiting for for more than a decade. We have recently added stellar team members to our H/L family to support this growth.

8. Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.

Hardworking, trustworthy, responsive, diverse, impactful.

The post NVCA Member Spotlight: Hatzimemos / Libby appeared first on National Venture Capital Association – NVCA.

Hey Loser!


This post is by Charles Fitzgerald from Platformonomics

No, this post is not about IBM (those posts are here). Rather it is a probably ill-advised foray into the political, which usually involves too much ranting even for me. However, I have a practical suggestion for an uncertain nation grappling with how to deal with the giant pile of shattered political norms on its front lawn. But first, a little ranting…

When confounded, seething, and/or depressed about the state of the world, I sometimes think about President Donald Trump’s performance review (as a citizen, I’m in his management chain). A performance review is more than a simple thumbs up or down., assessing progress against objectives, strengths and areas for improvement.

My initial take on Trump was “Manchurian Cheeto grifter”. While holding up quite well, that take neglected any assessment of two fundamental attributes we desire in our employees: being smart and able to get things done. So I’d probably amend the original with “imbecilic incompetent”.

And I’d also want to add amateurish, bullying, corrupt, divisive, feckless, illiterate, mendacious, phony-tough, reprobate, shallow, thin-skinned, and unbecoming,

From there it becomes a deluge: amoral, artless, blusterous, callow, careless, compassionless, compromised, couch potato, cowardly, crass, cretinous, crooked, crude, cruel, deceitful, delusional, derisive, devious, dishonest, disingenuous, disloyal, disrespectful, dull, duplicitous, embarrassing, entitled, fake, fatuous, feeble-minded, feckless, flat-footed, flighty, fraudulent, gaslighting, hopeless, ill-considered, illogical, ill-tailored, impulsive, imprudent, inarticulate, inattentive, inchoate, incoherent, inconsistent, inconsequential, incurious, indecent, indifferent, inhumane, innumerate, insecure, insensitive, irresponsible, jeering, juvenile, kakistocratic, lacking in moral compass, lawless, manipulative, mendacious, meretricious, misleading, moronic, narcissistic, nasty, nepotistic, nihilistic, offensive, oleaginous, opprobrious, overbearing, petty, petulant, polarizing, quixotic, reckless, reprobate, scatterbrained, self-aggrandizing, self-dealing, self-important, selfish, shameful, short-fingered, short-sighted, slipshod, subpar, thin-skinned, thoughtless, tiny, tone-deaf, traitorous, transactional, treasonous, trolling, uncaring, undignified, undisciplined, unfit, ungrammatical, uninformed, unlettered, unreflective, unscientific, untethered, useful idiot, vain, venal, vindictive, vulgar, woolly-headed, xenophobic, yam-tinted, zymotic, etc., etc.

Despite identifying a significant number of areas for improvement, I fear none of this feedback will penetrate Trump’s thick carapace of self-regard.

But there is one term that might get his attention: Loser. In the absence of so much else, he is certainly competitive and revels in “so much winning”. “Loser” is Trump’s own most cutting and revealing epithet, perhaps because he “projects about almost everything”.

Where the word “loser” becomes useful is in Trump’s aftermath. The nation stands at a crossroads: will Trump’s modus operandi prove a deeply humiliating and never-to-be-repeated aberration or will it define a new and greatly diminished ceiling for our political institutions and discourse? Can we restore some shared common values, dignity, and focus on the commonweal or is it all downhill from here, playing out as a reality TV reenactment of the twilight of the Roman Republic? Can we move beyond endless performative political theater and make a responsible and competent effort to address our ever-growing backlog of real challenges?

Having already obliterated countless political norms, we do have to be careful that Trump’s departure doesn’t smash even more. The American democratic tradition assumes peaceful transitions of power, without banana republic-style retribution against the previous regime. But Trump is different, in his disregard for those democratic norms and blustery contempt for pesky little laws. Debate rages over how vigorously to pursue his misdeeds versus caution about setting precedents for future Presidents. Regardless, he is destined to spend a lot of time with lawyers (one of the lesser known, but most dreadful of the biblical plagues).

But as those debates and prosecutions play out in the political and legal arenas — hopefully as exemplars of the values and processes to which we aspire — we also need to address Trump on Trump’s terms. So less procedural and syntactic, more visceral and succinctly pejorative. Normally, former Presidents deserve to be treated with respect, but Trump has, needless to say, forfeited that honor with his own lack of decorum.

The modest proposal: Trump should always be greeted in public, as he shuttles for the rest of his life between court dates and bankruptcy filings, with jeers of “loser”.

“Loser”, beyond being a term Trump understands, is a great word. It is acoustically versatile and has good mouth feel. It lends itself to a curt and abrupt “loser” muttered under the breath in a chance passing. But it also plays well in Trump’s favorite venue, the arena. Crowds can deploy it either as a long, draw-out “luuuuuuzzzer” or as a rhythmic, two-syllable chant (‘lu-zer, ‘lu-zer, ‘lu-zer…). Feel free to try it at home.

Loser!!! Hopefully we can start this practice on November 3.

Founder Real Talk Episode #41 With Kris Beevers, Co-Founder & CEO of NS1


This post is by Glenn Solomon from Going Long

Episode #41 of Founder Real Talk was recorded remotely with Kris Beevers, Co-Founder & CEO of NS1, while Kris was on his new boat! Having worked with Kris on his board since 2017 when GGV led NS1’s series B1, I’ve found Kris to be incredibly clear-thinking, honest and visionary, and I’m really excited to bring your this episode. Kris talks about the importance of complementary founders, keys to raising early stage capital, how his role as CEO has evolved as the business has scaled, his decision to hire a COO, and how to manage launching a new product within an existing growth company.

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Castbox

Listen on GGVC.com

The post Founder Real Talk Episode #41 With Kris Beevers, Co-Founder & CEO of NS1 appeared first on Going Long.

NVCA Member Spotlight: B37 Ventures


This post is by Cassie Ann Kiggen from National Venture Capital Association – NVCA

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to David Hite, Managing Partner of B37 Ventures.

Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

First, we invest once we’ve helped a startup win a big customer. We never lead with the “we want to invest” meeting. That big customer is usually one or more of the global corporations among our LPs to which we have unparalleled access. These large multinational corporations have global operations in 35 countries with 250 manufacturing plants, 220,000 employees and over 20,000 vehicles.

Second, the startups we seek to work with must be building a technology or service that can be leveraged by our corporate investors in the form of a sustainable, competitive advantage. We seek to syndicate deals with top tier VCs with whom we can team up and bring our unique value proposition in addition to the unique value they bring. The right investment syndicate is critical to us.

When a startup wins a customer that unleashes increased valuation for itself and all the shareholders it also simultaneously creates shareholder value in our corporate investors. We’re optimistic that formula leads to outsized venture returns.

Where did your firm’s name come from?

We were originally known as Bridge 37 Ventures. Our LPs include a handful of multinational corporations doing business in 35 countries and financial investors whose wealth was created by global industrialists. At our founding we counted 36 significantly relevant physical bridges in the world that provided passage over seemingly unbreachable obstacles. Bridge 37 was the 37th – a bridge of capital overcoming the obstacle of a great startup team exchanging their innovation for the scale available in global enterprises. After a time, we simplified the name to “B37” Ventures as we came to identify ourselves around our brand and image.

What defines your portfolio?

Very simply put, we achieve measurable outcomes.

For the startups in our portfolio we assist in getting their first, or among their first customers, and then expansion and traction. Often this directly informs the startup’s sales process so that it is better in the future and more effective with more customers.

For our corporate LPs we increase their shareholder value. The results are confidential, however impressive in their value.

For our co-investors we aid in unleashing increased startup valuation.

For B37 Ventures our startup growth, traction, and valuation informs our capital allocation.

As I mentioned earlier, we have engineered a platform that harnesses and creates a scalable network of users and resources in dynamic motion.

How is the firm different today than when you first started?

In two words, more talent! And talent is embodied in the optimistic, smart, energetic, enthusiastic people on the B37 team.

Each colleague working in B37 becomes a key enabler of sustained value creation for every stakeholder: the startup, the startup’s customer, co-investors, and B37 itself.

We envision each hire being on a “Partner track”, no matter the position they start in.

Why is your firm a part of NVCA?

There are a few reasons we joined NVCA, the most important being a desire to become a part of the conversation in shaping the future of venture capital particularly with emerging and micro VC fund managers. As B37 grows it’s assets under management we want to be sure we return the incredible collaboration we’ve enjoyed and sought to earn with premier investors along the way.

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.

We are based in San Francisco but our portfolio is global. Silicon Valley’s unique blend of talent, network and risk taking will continue to be a driving force in innovation at a global scale. However, as the pace of remote collaboration accelerates, we’ll see more great investment opportunities being geographically dispersed.

The current landscape continues to be increasingly competitive. COVID-19 and the global implications did shift many of the dynamics that we saw during the 11-year bull market. Nonetheless, the best teams and the best technologies continue to drive highly competed financing rounds. One trend that is fundamental to us (which is not new, but we see accelerating given the current macro conditions) is how critical it is for startups to scale internationally sooner in their life stage. Competition is becoming more geographically dispersed, so building competitive advantages and barriers of entry at a global scale remains an imperative for successful startups.

We are also seeing funds doubling down on portfolio companies that are COVID-19 resilient and startups finding new GTM and monetization models that rely on new paradigms. For us, this means enabling our portfolio and pipeline startups to find creative ways to deploy remotely and adapt to different use cases as quickly and effectively as possible.

What’s ahead for your firm in 2020?

Our portfolio has increased their operations to 24 countries now and there has been double-digit million dollars achieved as sales for our portfolio companies or savings/new revenue sources for our corporate investors. Also, we’re in the middle of raising our second fund and are fortunate to count our existing investor base as part of the first close to be held in the coming months.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.

Trusted, Professional, Optimistic, Savvy, Adventurous!

The post NVCA Member Spotlight: B37 Ventures appeared first on National Venture Capital Association – NVCA.

NVCA Member Spotlight: B37 Ventures


This post is by Cassie Ann Kiggen from National Venture Capital Association – NVCA

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to David Hite, Managing Partner of B37 Ventures.

Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

First, we invest once we’ve helped a startup win a big customer. We never lead with the “we want to invest” meeting. That big customer is usually one or more of the global corporations among our LPs to which we have unparalleled access. These large multinational corporations have global operations in 35 countries with 250 manufacturing plants, 220,000 employees and over 20,000 vehicles.

Second, the startups we seek to work with must be building a technology or service that can be leveraged by our corporate investors in the form of a sustainable, competitive advantage. We seek to syndicate deals with top tier VCs with whom we can team up and bring our unique value proposition in addition to the unique value they bring. The right investment syndicate is critical to us.

When a startup wins a customer that unleashes increased valuation for itself and all the shareholders it also simultaneously creates shareholder value in our corporate investors. We’re optimistic that formula leads to outsized venture returns.

Where did your firm’s name come from?

We were originally known as Bridge 37 Ventures. Our LPs include a handful of multinational corporations doing business in 35 countries and financial investors whose wealth was created by global industrialists. At our founding we counted 36 significantly relevant physical bridges in the world that provided passage over seemingly unbreachable obstacles. Bridge 37 was the 37th – a bridge of capital overcoming the obstacle of a great startup team exchanging their innovation for the scale available in global enterprises. After a time, we simplified the name to “B37” Ventures as we came to identify ourselves around our brand and image.

What defines your portfolio?

Very simply put, we achieve measurable outcomes.

For the startups in our portfolio we assist in getting their first, or among their first customers, and then expansion and traction. Often this directly informs the startup’s sales process so that it is better in the future and more effective with more customers.

For our corporate LPs we increase their shareholder value. The results are confidential, however impressive in their value.

For our co-investors we aid in unleashing increased startup valuation.

For B37 Ventures our startup growth, traction, and valuation informs our capital allocation.

As I mentioned earlier, we have engineered a platform that harnesses and creates a scalable network of users and resources in dynamic motion.

How is the firm different today than when you first started?

In two words, more talent! And talent is embodied in the optimistic, smart, energetic, enthusiastic people on the B37 team.

Each colleague working in B37 becomes a key enabler of sustained value creation for every stakeholder: the startup, the startup’s customer, co-investors, and B37 itself.

We envision each hire being on a “Partner track”, no matter the position they start in.

Why is your firm a part of NVCA?

There are a few reasons we joined NVCA, the most important being a desire to become a part of the conversation in shaping the future of venture capital particularly with emerging and micro VC fund managers. As B37 grows it’s assets under management we want to be sure we return the incredible collaboration we’ve enjoyed and sought to earn with premier investors along the way.

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.

We are based in San Francisco but our portfolio is global. Silicon Valley’s unique blend of talent, network and risk taking will continue to be a driving force in innovation at a global scale. However, as the pace of remote collaboration accelerates, we’ll see more great investment opportunities being geographically dispersed.

The current landscape continues to be increasingly competitive. COVID-19 and the global implications did shift many of the dynamics that we saw during the 11-year bull market. Nonetheless, the best teams and the best technologies continue to drive highly competed financing rounds. One trend that is fundamental to us (which is not new, but we see accelerating given the current macro conditions) is how critical it is for startups to scale internationally sooner in their life stage. Competition is becoming more geographically dispersed, so building competitive advantages and barriers of entry at a global scale remains an imperative for successful startups.

We are also seeing funds doubling down on portfolio companies that are COVID-19 resilient and startups finding new GTM and monetization models that rely on new paradigms. For us, this means enabling our portfolio and pipeline startups to find creative ways to deploy remotely and adapt to different use cases as quickly and effectively as possible.

What’s ahead for your firm in 2020?

Our portfolio has increased their operations to 24 countries now and there has been double-digit million dollars achieved as sales for our portfolio companies or savings/new revenue sources for our corporate investors. Also, we’re in the middle of raising our second fund and are fortunate to count our existing investor base as part of the first close to be held in the coming months.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.

Trusted, Professional, Optimistic, Savvy, Adventurous!

The post NVCA Member Spotlight: B37 Ventures appeared first on National Venture Capital Association – NVCA.

Our Scoring System at NextView (aka How We Evaluate Companies)


This post is by Rob Go from Blog – NextView Ventures

A few weeks ago, I published a post on how we make decisions and vote at NextView. Usually when we record our votes, we also score each company based on five attributes. This isn’t used as a “scorecard” where companies need to clear a certain quantitative bar to get through our process. But it’s a summary of the attributes we tend to think about as a team, and a record of how each one of us rated our investments based on these attributes. The five attributes are:

  1. Team
  2. 10X better, faster, cheaper potential
  3. Monopoly potential
  4. PMF Risk
  5. Market

 

Team:

We tend to think of a team similar to the concept of founder/market fit. How well suited is the team’s background for the task required to build this company? There are two dimensions to this. The first is domain. Most companies benefit from having some native domain experience in the industry they are attacking. There are sure to be certain relationships, regulatory know-how, or other insider knowledge that will accelerate a company’s learning and early progress. If a founder lacks domain experience, having certain holes filled in the early team is a positive signal.

If a company is in a highly complicated industry and no one on the founding team has knowledge of the domain, that’s a concern. Conversely, a team made up entirely of industry insiders can be worrisome too, because often it’s industry outsiders that are able to push beyond industry norms and offer a truly disruptive solution.

The second dimension of team/market fit has to do with actual capabilities. A team of great domain experts or very senior team members may struggle mightily when tasked with the early stage challenges of building and selling a disruptive product. We like to look at companies with a blank sheet of paper and ask “what is the biggest lift for this business in the next 1-2 years?” Is there someone on the team who might be world class at addressing this risk?” You might have a very well pedigreed team with great domain experience that actually is not well suited for the challenge at hand.

Given the stage we invest in, there is also the dimension of completeness. Is there a somewhat complete team in place, or is there going to be a fair bit of time and effort expended in the first few months post-investment to bring the right people on board? This risk is baked into our analysis because most companies we fund are on a clock and will eventually need to raise money again in 12-24 months and hit some specific milestones in order to do that successfully.

 

10X Better, Faster, Cheaper / Monopoly Potential

We’ve actually written several blog posts on this concept, so I’ll gloss over it. Generally, we are looking for companies that are JDCC. Have a jaw dropping customer value proposition with a competition crushing business model. In other words, something that is 10X better, faster, or more convenient, and a business with accumulating returns to scale.

 

PMF Risk

We invest at the seed stage, and so product/market fit is always a significant risk. But some companies present greater PMF risk than others for various reasons. In some cases, a category is quite crowded with low switching costs, so creating something that really resonates with the market is super hard. The classic case here is consumer social where it is often a bit of a crapshoot to predict that kinds of products will achieve early traction (and it’s even difficult to determine which will sustain significant traction over a long period of time).

Other companies we look at have much lower PMF risk, either because they have more demonstrable proof points or because there is unique core technology that enables a known customer need in a vastly superior way. For us, we tend to take a portfolio approach at the way we evaluate this sort of risk. We try to have a blend of companies across the risk spectrum (although all with a seed stage point of entry) and we balance this level of risk with the pricing that the market is willing to bear at different points in time. We will occasionally titrate up or down our initial investment sizes based on this level of perceived risk as well.

 

Market

While we are most inspired by great founders bringing to life jaw-dropping products, we tend to believe the adage that “markets win”. We’ve seen extraordinary teams really struggle to build value in challenging markets, and we’ve seen companies overcome many mis-steps thanks to tremendous market tailwinds.

There is one interesting observation however when I look back at this data. We rarely disagree significantly as a team about the relative attractiveness of a market in the moment. We can usually be pretty intellectually honest about what we see in terms of market dynamics, the relative power of various players, and the short term trajectory. The disagreement comes in projecting how the market will change. Some of our best investments have been in companies that benefited from a significant market shift that came to fruition over 5+ years.

In some cases, founders were making a very specific bet about this shift. But in others, some other event gave a market another gear (most companies that are experiencing tailwinds from Covid are in this bucket). It’s a constant reminder that markets win, but that markets also change. And VC’s tend to do best when they make the right calls in periods of uncertainty and change.

What is not included in our scoring system is “deal”. Although we are quite disciplined about our pricing and ownership targets as a firm, we try to be guided primarily by companies and founders and not by the terms to the deal. We tend to get to “yes” independent of terms, and then try to negotiate terms that we think are fair and provide the right incentives for all players.

We also don’t use these attributes as a way to “get a deal through” our process. As I described before, our model is largely conviction based and allows for a fair bit of disagreement and uncertainty. But we find that this sort of system gives us a common language to talk about the most important elements of a company and also gives us an objective data set to test the quality of our own judgement when we look back at the data with more information.

The post Our Scoring System at NextView (aka How We Evaluate Companies) appeared first on NextView Ventures.

Our investment in QuestDB – the ‘Usain Bolt’ of databases


This post is by Kate McGinn from Seedcamp

Open up your weather app, log into your financial trading platform, or turn the dial on your smart home thermometer and you will produce one of the fastest-growing data types in the world: time-series. 

Machines, devices, and sensors create trillions of these time-stamped events around the clock. Although the value of big data has become ubiquitous, managing the quantity of data is a significant challenge for companies. Existing costly databases lack performance to capture and make sense of it all in a cost-effective manner. 

Enter: QuestDB

Founded by Vlad Ilyushchenko, Tancrede Collard, and Nicolas Hourcard, QuestDB is a fast, open-source database for time-series data. Built from scratch with speed and efficiency as a priority, QuestDB puts the data as close to the hardware as possible. This ensures that machine resources are utilised to the fullest extent. Proximity to hardware allows companies to capture and analyse explosive amounts of data without spiraling costs.

At Seedcamp, we like to think of QuestDB as the Usain Bolt of databases. This is why we are thrilled to congratulate them on their $2.3 million seed round, led by Episode 1 Ventures, 7 percent Ventures, Y Combinator, Kima Ventures and several angels.

A preview of QuestDB’s user interface

QuestDB’s roots can be traced back to Vlad’s kitchen table. Having spent decades building low-latency software at leading banks and trading firms, Vlad began developing the open-source version of the software. In 2018, while working at the fintech startup Blockchain.com, his passion project caught the attention of his co-workers and, now co-founders, Tancrede and Nicolas.

Today, the team is laser-focused on building QuestDB from the ground-up to avoid making similar mistakes seen within the database ecosystem.

In the past, “powerful hardware led programmers to neglect software efficiency,” Nicolas commented. “So far, throwing more hardware to mitigate bloated software has been typical. As Moore’s law comes to an end, we believe that the solution is to write lean and efficient code from the start. This is the premise of QuestDB and the reason we have written the entire stack ourselves, without any dependencies and fitting all the codebase in the smallest possible package.”

Currently, QuestDB is in production at several companies. The team is planning on using the round to build out an open-source community and develop an enterprise product.

“From DevOps metrics to data from IoT devices to stock prices, the need for real time data streaming is growing exponentially and this makes time series databases hugely  in-demand.” Sia Houchangnia, one of our investment partners, comments. “When we met Vlad, Nico and Tanc, what truly impressed us was the complementarity of their skillsets, their deep expertise in low-latency trading systems and the years of R&D that had already gone into building from scratch a 10x better product. The team has indeed achieved the feat of combining best in class performance with an ultra-low footprint, while maintaining minimal complexity by using SQL rather than a bespoke language.”

While still in its early days, QuestDB’s vision to build the fastest time-series database on an open-source community base is promising.

“At Seedcamp, we are also big believers in the fact that open source software is eating the world of enterprise software,” Houchangnia reflects upon. “We are therefore very excited to see that QuestDB has not only built an exceptional product but is also nurturing a vibrant open-source community.”

Georgian, your platform for growth.


This post is by Georgian Team from Georgian

At Georgian, we believe in the opportunity to offer more value to founders and CEOs by taking a digital-first, data-driven approach to growth-stage investing.  

Georgian was founded by former software entrepreneurs and our innovation has followed the pattern of software companies.  

For over a decade, we have taken our own unique approach. That has included creating an in-house R&D team, open-sourcing software we have developed and building a world-class executive community, the Growth Network. Today we are taking that a step further. 

Georgian Partners is now Georgian, the fintech for growth-stage software companies. And as Georgian, we are building an intelligent, data-driven platform to help solve key challenges our CEOs face as they grow their businesses. 

Disrupting growth equity.

Digital disruption has happened to almost every industry over the past ten years. Originally, B2C companies like Uber and Airbnb were the most obvious examples. Now there are B2B examples in almost every industry vertical. We have invested in many of them, including IEX (stock exchange), Beam (dental insurance) and Opcity (real estate).

We believe it is time for growth equity to go through the same process.  

Digital disruptors use technology to improve the customer experience as well as to automate their own business, while also adopting the best practices of software companies and at Georgian we have long taken this approach. 

  • Using technology to improve the customer experience. For example, our R&D team has built software components that we make available to our companies for free. Our companies can use these components to reduce the time it takes for their customers to go live and to make machine learning models more effective by training on aggregate data sets.
  • Automating our own business with technology. For instance, we use our own automated sourcing engine, driven by machine learning, to identify the best companies for investment. 
  • Adopting the best practices of software companies. Our processes, teams and culture mirror software companies. We operate the way our companies do: sales, account management, R&D, community, our titles, our org structure. 

We are now accelerating our investment in more digital services. Some of these will provide insights to our team and our companies. Some of them will be consumed by our companies digitally through APIs.   

Growth equity investing is a business of deep personal relationships. These investments in technology and automation are intended to augment the value of these relationships by unlocking more time and equipping everybody in our network with additional data-driven insights. 

The Georgian approach.

Our approach is collaborative and focused on return on investment. All of our services are free and are intended to increase the value of our companies. This is how we benefit and it is aligned with our investors and our companies. Whenever we engage with our companies, we predict and measure the value of our collaboration. 

What isn’t changing is our investment focus. We continue to look for the best growth-stage technology companies where we typically invest $25M-$75M, usually in a Series B or later. We’re excited to be driving innovation in our own industry.  We continue to be inspired by the founders, CEOs and their teams that we are lucky enough to work with every day.  We’re excited to work with entrepreneurs to accelerate the growth of their business.

Welcome to Georgian. 

The post Georgian, your platform for growth. appeared first on Georgian.

State of Trust Report 2020


This post is by David Poole from Georgian

The State of
Trust 2020

Executive summary.

Over the past decade, trust has become one of the key technology issues of our time. In this report, we will review the prevailing trust trends of 2020 through the lens of the Georgian trust framework. We also explore the impact of COVID and the racial justice protest globally, as well as the three important themes below.

Expect accelerating momentum behind trust.

The momentum trust-oriented movements have gained will continue to accelerate in 2020, spurred by recent events and employee groups increasingly adopting collective action to galvanize change. Increased tech regulation will also come into play, with privacy leading the way, and other areas of trust following.

Build trust at the human-technology interface.

Trust risks grow along with increased reliance on AI, robotics and digital infrastructure. Emerging technologies are crucial to bolster explainability and transparency and preserve privacy — especially in areas of rapidly accelerating automation. Clear frameworks for accountability, safety and fairness will become an integral part of product design.

Integrate trust into all areas of your talent strategy.

Creating trust-focused positions and hiring fairly are important not only to send the right message, but to build teams that are prepared to take on trust challenges. Once talent is on board, prepare business leaders to communicate clearly and transparently with stakeholders. Be proactive in addressing trust challenges posed by ongoing remote work — from security to accountability to fairness.

How to Use this Report

We wrote this report for executives at B2B SaaS companies. As leaders, you are fostering relationships with a complex web of customers, employees, partners, suppliers, regulators and investors. The more you can earn their trust, the easier it will be to successfully establish lasting relationships and scale effectively.

Georgian is on the same journey as you. We too, are faced with similar challenges navigating the tides of change in 2020. We understand that earning trust is hard, and the recommendations within this report are as much of a guide to us as they are to you, to inspire trust at the core of your operations.

In this report, you’ll learn what it takes to earn trust in 2020 and which trends will drive the discussion around what it means to be trustworthy. We start with a look at the controversies and issues that are creating a new set of challenges for earning trust – including the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to combat racism and inequality.

 

In this report, you’ll learn what it takes to earn trust in 2020 and which trends will drive the discussion around what it means to be trustworthy.

A Framework for
Earning Trust

Throughout the report, we use the framework we introduced in our Principles of Trust to break down the complex concept of trust into six factors which can increase (or decrease) value and comfort to create trust in the digital economy. You can see the framework below.

Each section will prepare you to get ahead of these trends by developing an approach that meaningfully engages customers.

We end the report with a market map of vendors that you can partner with to help your business differentiate on trust.

Ipad image

trust-framework

Welcome to 2020

This year has been dominated by the response to the coronavirus and calls for racial equality. The global pandemic has amplified the importance of physical safety, decentralized workplaces, virtual relationship building, supply chain disruption and crisis communications. A renewed focus on racism and inequality has the spotlight on fairness and has encouraged many corporations and individuals to proactively look for ways to reduce bias.

Companies looking to earn the trust of their customers should take a leadership role in these events. In this opening section, we will take a close look at these two defining trends and how technology companies might respond to them.

 

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY TRUST?

Trust is the willingness to rely on the actions, integrity and ability of other parties, despite any perceived risks of doing so.

To earn trust, you must increase both the value provided in the relationship and the level of comfort that each party feels toward the other.

Trust Expectations Are High

Employees and customers are expecting more from brands in 2020. It is no longer enough to issue a statement or an emotional ad, but they must advocate and act on societal issues affecting the communities where they operate. This elevated definition of trust continues to be a focus of both Georgian and the companies in our network.

The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on Brand Trust in 2020, which surveyed over 22,000 respondents in 11 markets at the end of May, emphasizes that trust is the second most important factor in the decision to buy from a new brand, trailing only price and affordability; brands that take a stand on racial justice are four times as likely to gain trust as brands that stand to the side.

BRAND TRUST

Since rational and emotional aspects of purchase behavior have moved to the forefront, brand trust should address consumers’ fears around personal vulnerability, health, financial stability and privacy.

Brands are now required to solve, not simply sell.

Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report on Brand Trust 2020.

COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a material impact on supply chains, social settings and remote work, factors that have widespread implications and challenges. The virus will continue to impact software businesses in surprising ways, and as a result, companies’ responses to targeting these challenges, via innovation and enforcement of sound trust practices, will be important. To address this, we discuss COVID-19-specific trends that affect trust in each section of this report.

Digital services have allowed life to continue with some semblance of normality, which would have been difficult to imagine only a few years ago. In fact, the crisis has highlighted the integral role that technology companies play through their ability to adapt to change, benefitting society at large. This is evidenced through the sharp rebound of tech stocks as their services have proven indispensable over time.

However, the crisis has also resulted in tighter budgets and more cautious expansion, especially in industries that have experienced headwinds. Despite these hurdles, strong customer relationships will allow software businesses to manage renewals more effectively. An approach to your brand where you effectively demonstrate both value and comfort will allow you to accelerate sales cycles.

Responding to COVID

Though technology companies have adapted to COVID-19 more smoothly than many other sectors, they still face a number of pressing challenges. Some of these are new; others are existing pain points that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Total decentralization of the workforce

  • Increased focus on employee well-being, mental health and engagement.
  • Rising need for training around security in a remote world.
  • Unprepared home network security and device security.
  • Rising tension over use of employee monitoring software without due scrutiny.

Reliance on (creaking) institutions

  • Increased surveillance and intrusion by governments to mitigate emergencies (e.g., cell phone and location tracking for people entering the country during COVID-19).
  • Rushed contact tracing initiatives.
  • Delayed relief payments and strained government resources.

Supply chain and cloud service disruptions

  • Mission-critical reliance on the cloud attracts increased attacks.
  • Increased strain on digital infrastructure has led to service issues.
  • Increased worries over job replacement due to the speed of digitization and automation of the workplace.

Building for the future

The response to COVID-19 is a defining factor of 2020. Initially, this was purely reactive. Now, software companies have the opportunity to act proactively and pull ahead in the new world.

To succeed in the conditions that COVID-19 created, the best companies are following a new playbook. These companies are:

Remote Leaders.

Embrace remote work as the standard and optimize the organization and operations to make the most of it.

Responsive and Agile.

Master digital onboarding for customers and ship new products to meet the evolving needs of customers quickly.

Customer-centric.

Evolve the customer experience by using best-of-breed digital tools. Look for opportunities to introduce new products that feed data into your core product, creating a data flywheel.

Innovative.

Create a culture of experimentation, prototyping, testing and fast failure to identify new opportunities and outpace competitors.

Racial Justice Protests

As worldwide racial justice protests continue, companies are realizing that staying on the sidelines is no longer a viable option. Public outcry over the death of George Floyd and larger patterns of racial injustice have significant implications with respect to fairness, accountability and—ultimately—trust.

To maintain consumer and employee trust, companies have put out statements of solidarity, made sizeable donations to community organizations and announced changes in their own policies and practices to fight inequality. Companies of all sizes can expect increased scrutiny and higher consumer and employee demands when it comes to fairness and justice, both in terms of company operations and their contributions to the larger community.

Designing for Fairness

Going forward, companies should strive to:

Own their impact, not just their intent.

Companies can expect to answer for any policies, products or downstream results that reinforce racial disparities, even when not intended. Fairness in AI is a particularly important area to consider, as learning from real-world data may have the unintended consequence of reproducing or amplifying existing bias.

Recruit and support diverse teams.

In the tech industry, it’s essential that we do not create products that reinforce racial injustice. Unfortunately, there are already many examples of problems that arise from biased AI systems. These issues stem from both biased data and from a lack of BIPOC employees being actively involved in designing for fairness.

Hold partners, customers, vendors and suppliers to high standards.

Shareholders, customers  and employees are increasingly putting pressure on companies to pull back from relationships that are problematic to achieving equality.

Components of Trust in 2020

In this report, we review the trends that are driving the discussion around what it means to be trustworthy as a technology business. Each section outlined below will prepare you to get ahead of these trends by developing a trust-first approach that meaningfully engages employees, customers and your wider ecosystem.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Start by defining what your organization stands for, and take responsibility for the current and future impact your products and policies may have on all stakeholders — this mindset is key to addressing all subsequent pillars in good faith.

FAIRNESS

When building products, begin by understanding what fairness means to your stakeholders, and design for it. Understand all possible scenarios where unfair outcomes could play out, and develop solutions accordingly

PRIVACY

During the design phase of your product, understand what data you truly need to be collecting, and ensure users understand what you will do with their information.

SECURITY

Now that you know what data you should be collecting, and your stakeholders are fully aware, it is your responsibility to protect the data from bad actors.

RELIABILITY

Now that you’ve built the system, product or service, ensure it continues to operate smoothly and as expected by your users.

TRANSPARENCY

Be open and honest about what you are building and what motivates you. Unexpected things will happen — when it does, be prepared to communicate transparently and authentically to maintain trust.

Continue reading

This post is part of our 2020 State of Trust Report. If you don’t see a menu on the left of your screen, dive into the rest of the report here.

The post State of Trust Report 2020 appeared first on Georgian.

Keeping A List, Maybe Two


This post is by David Beisel from Blog – NextView Ventures

There are many traits and habits that successful entrepreneurs, especially repeat ones, display. Most of them are correlated to, but don’t directly cause success. And so they’re typically not necessary, nor sufficient conditions, to being or even becoming an exceptional Founder. Many common ones are public: charismatic leadership, having a sales-oriented approach, or being strategic about delegating. But there’s one which I’ve noticed that typically goes unnoticed, not because it should be private, but because it’s personal. Many successful entrepreneurs keep a running list.

The list is usually one of the two key raw ingredients to starting a company: a list of ideas or a list of people. Some founders actually keep two lists, one of both categories. Of course, they’re in all sorts of formats. Some are raw txt files formed in TextEdit/Notepad, some are in Excel or in Sheets or in Evernote, and some are literally written on a running piece of paper. The other week I talked to one serial entrepreneur who kept multiple lists in differing electronic and physical formats in various places, and had been meaning to consolidate, but liked the fact that he always had a venue to jot down his ideas wherever and whenever they were conceived.

Despite the fact that ideas are ephemeral, replicable, and some would say they’re “cheap,” ideas are indeed the keystone for forming and creating a new company. Behind each idea is an implicit hypothesis about the world today and what it could become. The concept behind a company contains assumptions about how people behave and what could make their lives better. A running list of company ideas is not just a way to enumerate business conceptualizations, but to test and refine them, by ranking and prioritizing, by riffing on and editing. A running list of startup ideas isn’t a static document, but rather a living one in which the stronger potential ventures rise to the top.

The other running list type I’ve heard more than a few times is much more tactical: a list of people who could be early team-members of a new company. If startups are really about aggregating talent and ideas are fungible, these building blocks of human capital create the structural foundation for a new venture to endure. A record of not just who is in a Founder’s orbit, but who could be an integral co-Founder, peer/partner, or early team member. Because the right idea can change, so can the right teammate which matches the business. Having the right DNA in a company at the formation stages sets up the trajectory from the start.

For some entrepreneurs, these lists aren’t kept physically and literally, but are rather mental annotations. Regardless of their origin, ideas and people coming together to start a new company is best when it’s the result of deliberate planning and architecting. Great Founders are always keeping tabs on the what and who for their next startup, because the right time of “when” could be soon.

 

The post Keeping A List, Maybe Two appeared first on NextView Ventures.

NVCA Member Spotlight: JumpStart Inc.


This post is by Cassie Ann Kiggen from National Venture Capital Association – NVCA

Welcome to our Member Spotlight series where we give a profile overview of our many diverse members. For this deep dive, we spoke to Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart Inc.

Tell us about your firm. What makes it different?

JumpStart is unique because we have both a traditional LP, Series A fund and two evergreen investment funds: one for startups in Greater Cleveland and one specifically for women and Black or Latinx-led companies in Ohio. To date, we have invested $65M into 125 Ohio startups across a wide range of technology sectors and have generated significant returns, including Ohio’s first unicorn tech startup exit in CoverMyMeds. Additionally, 32% of JumpStart’s portfolio companies are led by women and 20% by Black or Latinx entrepreneurs. Our portfolio companies have raised $3.5B in follow-on funding and have created 10,000 jobs since 2010.

Where did your firm’s name come from?

JumpStart Inc. was created in 2004 when corporate and community leaders in Cleveland determined there was a need to create a new organization with the expertise of a VC to invest in 10-15 seed-stage firms each year. Additionally, the firm would have the ability to advise hundreds of startups including intentionality in working with women, Black, and Latinx entrepreneurs.

What defines your portfolio?

Our portfolio primarily consists of Seed and early Series A Healthcare IT, MedTech, and B2B software companies, but we are active in other sectors as well.

How is the firm different today than when you first started?

Today, JumpStart has three funds (two Seed-stage (Evergreen) funds and one Series A fund totaling $70M in AUM). Originally, we raised investment capital on an annual basis versus as investment funds. Additionally, we have significantly expanded corporate innovation activities, including partnerships with the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, ProMedica, Mercy Health, and others while still providing coaching services to early-stage startups. Beyond that, our dedication to creating an ever-expanding, inclusive approach to venture capital and startup tech ecosystem has increased dramatically over the last decade.

Why is your firm a part of NVCA?

We believe the NVCA is the most important trade association relative to the future of the U.S. economy. As a Midwest Seed and Series A-focused VC, JumpStart has found it absolutely critical to belong to NVCA to access peer insights, high-quality data, and information related to critical public policy issues. I have been involved with NVCA for 16 years. I served on the NVCA Board of Directors (2011-2015), received the NVCA’s American Spirit award in 2017, and now serve as a founding board member of Venture Forward.

Tell us about the current VC landscape in your geography/region.

Ohio continues to attract strong VC interest and boasts many successful exits from our portfolio and other VC’s portfolios headquartered in the state. I anticipate the amount of venture capital managed by Ohio venture firms will increase 5x in the next decade.

What’s ahead for your firm in 2020?

JumpStart is expanding access to high potential deal flow both from the entrepreneurial community and through intensive collaboration with academic and corporate partners. We also look forward to raising significant new capital in the year to take our work to the next level of impact and returns.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less

Entrepreneurial, hard-driving, collaborative, inclusive, and enthusiastic

The post NVCA Member Spotlight: JumpStart Inc. appeared first on National Venture Capital Association – NVCA.

An Executive Framework for Value Creation and Strategic Planning


This post is by Christen Daniels from Georgian Partners

If you’re building a business, your most fundamental goal is to create value. Having been involved in many M&A transactions over the years, I’ve come to realize that there is a distinct difference between creating value and optimizing for it. In this post, we’re going to share Georgian’s framework for value creation and outline how we help entrepreneurs turn it into an intentional pursuit that can increase your chances of reaching a successful exit.

If you like the framework, we hope you can use and apply it to your own business. The output of this exercise is typically a list of strategic to-do’s that you can prioritize at the leadership level.

Step One: Current and Future State

Before we dive into a value creation exercise with our portfolio companies, we ask CEOs two fundamental questions:

  • What does your business look like today?
  • What do you want it to look like in the future?

If we start by documenting the current and desired future state, we can use this framework to help us chart the course between the two and ensure that we are creating the maximum amount of value along the way.

Step Two: Map Your Ecosystem 

Most companies know who their core competitors are… but what about the wider ecosystem? Do you know who your future competitors are likely to be? Can you clearly identify what’s likely to drive strategy and demand in your space over the coming years? These are the types of questions that you’ll be able to answer by mapping your ecosystem.

This exercise takes all the information you have about your market, customer behaviors and priorities and consolidates it into a single view.

The output shows:

  • Who you compete with today
  • Who is influencing the strategic direction of your sector
  • Who is likely to enter into your space
  • What opportunities there may be for future growth in adjacent spaces
  • Which key customers set the demand dynamics for your space

A unified picture of your ecosystem gives you three clear benefits:

1. Strengthen your competitive moat and narrative

Knowing where your business sits within the broader market provides helpful context and shines a light on your unique positioning. If you find that your business doesn’t have a well-defined niche, you can use this ecosystem map to help refine your overall narrative and strategic focus. For example, you may uncover enhancements you could make to your product to create a more comprehensive solution. Armed with this new market context and understanding, you can work towards creating a stronger competitive moat around your business.

2. Anticipate market trends

Zooming out to a macro view allows you to picture your space from the customer’s perspective. How does your solution map to the wider problem set they are facing? This perspective will help your team anticipate current and future demand, and the potential for consolidation or expansion in your space. For example, you’ll be able to spot where other businesses could enter your space, consolidate competitors or create a new, more attractive offering. Industry experts, analysts, investment bankers and other advisors who are active in your space can provide helpful market insights to shape this view.

3. Identify value-add relationships

Mapping your ecosystem often leads to a brainstormed list of value-add partnerships (technology or go-to-market based), potential targets for acquisition or future exit paths. When considering partners and acquisitions, 1+1 must always equal 3 – more value should be created together than separately. Good partnerships and good acquisition targets will not only advance your penetration in your target customer base but will also bolster your competitive position in the broader ecosystem.

Once you have a clear picture of the opportunities available to you in the broader market, it’s time to look inward and examine your core strengths—we call these value drivers—to see how you can optimize your strategic advantage.

Step Three: Outline Your Value Drivers

Value drivers are the building blocks of value creation in your business. They can be divided into three main groups: core metrics, strategic drivers and premium opportunities.

1. Core metrics

Core financial and business metrics measure the strength and momentum of your company. At Georgian, we encourage our companies to use a metrics framework called the G7, in addition to any metrics that are uniquely indicative of their growth and success. Your core metrics should provide an objective picture of the current state of your business, highlight areas for future improvement, and should be measured regularly to identify trends and changes.

Any future investors, strategic partners or acquirers will measure the strength of your business through these metrics. When sharing them externally, it’s important to consider the audience and have a clear story for each metric – what does it say about your business and why is it a critical measurement?

2. Strategic drivers

As I have evaluated companies for investment and acquisition over the years, I have developed a “buyer’s mindset” and have seen patterns in how buyers and investors think. Once a buyer gets past your core metrics, they will often think these eight key components:

We recommend going through each of the eight sections in the graphic above and answering the following questions:

  1. Is this a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat?
  2. How do we measure success right now? What data points do we have?
  3. Amongst our strengths, what stands out as highly differentiated?

What we’re looking for during this exercise are the elements that make up your company’s secret sauce. If these are the key components of value creation, where do you shine?

By mapping your strategic drivers in this format, you can visualize your strengths to double down on, and weaknesses to address.

3. Premium opportunities

We call high-value growth and expansion opportunities—both the realistic and the moonshots—premium opportunities. These opportunities are the aspirational vision for the future of your business and provide a roadmap for long-term incremental value.

Examples of premium opportunities include:

  • Building a proprietary data moat
  • Expanding into new markets/geographies
  • Enhancing your technology through third-party integrations
  • Expansion into adjacent use cases
  • Acquisitions

The likelihood that you can achieve these premium opportunities and the scope and scale of those opportunities will be directly tied to your organization’s value.

Step Four: Chart the Course and Refine your Narrative

By this point, you should have a comprehensive macro view of your ecosystem, your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and a list of potential action items. While many CEOs and executives have these details in their heads, we often hear that it is a valuable exercise to zoom out and put all of this into a living, breathing document.

What we’ve done, at a high level, is develop a blueprint for the desired evolution of your business. In our experience, the most successful companies use the value creation framework as the foundation for strategic planning and execution, including:

  • Developing and measuring strategic business and growth plans
  • Positioning for future fundraising
  • Corporate development strategies, including partnerships and potential M&A
  • Long-term, proactive exit planning

Coming out of a value creation exercise, each key action item should have an assigned owner, with milestones and KPIs, that are communicated and tracked at the executive and board level. Ideally, you can revisit these frameworks and repeat this process every year to help set the strategy for the next fiscal year, with a cadence of quarterly checkpoints.

Interested in running your own value creation exercise? We run guided workshops through the Georgian CoLab – our pre-investment program for growth-stage companies. Apply today.

 

The post An Executive Framework for Value Creation and Strategic Planning appeared first on Georgian Partners.

An Executive Framework for Value Creation and Strategic Planning


This post is by Christen Daniels from Georgian

If you’re building a business, your most fundamental goal is to create value. Having been involved in many M&A transactions over the years, I’ve come to realize that there is a distinct difference between creating value and optimizing for it. In this post, we’re going to share Georgian’s framework for value creation and outline how we help entrepreneurs turn it into an intentional pursuit that can increase your chances of reaching a successful exit.

If you like the framework, we hope you can use and apply it to your own business. The output of this exercise is typically a list of strategic to-do’s that you can prioritize at the leadership level.

Step One: Current and Future State

Before we dive into a value creation exercise with our portfolio companies, we ask CEOs two fundamental questions:

  • What does your business look like today?
  • What do you want it to look like in the future?

If you start by documenting the current and desired future state, you can use this framework to help us chart the course between the two and ensure that you are creating the maximum amount of value along the way.

Step Two: Map Your Ecosystem

Most companies know who their core competitors are… but what about the wider ecosystem? Do you know who your future competitors are likely to be? Can you clearly identify what’s likely to drive strategy and demand in your space over the coming years? These are the types of questions that you’ll be able to answer by mapping your ecosystem.

This exercise takes all the information you have about your market, customer behaviors and priorities and consolidates it into a single view.

The output shows:

  • Who you compete with today
  • Who is influencing the strategic direction of your sector
  • Who is likely to enter into your space
  • What opportunities there may be for future growth in adjacent spaces
  • Which key customers set the demand dynamics for your space

A unified picture of your ecosystem gives you three clear benefits:

1. Strengthen your competitive moat and narrative

Knowing where your business sits within the broader market provides helpful context and shines a light on your unique positioning. If you find that your business doesn’t have a well-defined niche, you can use this ecosystem map to help refine your overall narrative and strategic focus. For example, you may uncover enhancements you could make to your product to create a more comprehensive solution. Armed with this new market context and understanding, you can work towards creating a stronger competitive moat around your business.

2. Anticipate market trends

Zooming out to a macro view allows you to picture your space from the customer’s perspective. How does your solution map to the wider problem set they are facing? This perspective will help your team anticipate current and future demand, and the potential for consolidation or expansion in your space. For example, you’ll be able to spot where other businesses could enter your space, consolidate competitors or create a new, more attractive offering. Industry experts, analysts, investment bankers and other advisors who are active in your space can provide helpful market insights to shape this view.

3. Identify value-add relationships

Mapping your ecosystem often leads to a brainstormed list of value-add partnerships (technology or go-to-market based), potential acquisition targets or future exit paths. When considering partners and acquisitions, 1+1 must always equal 3 – more value should be created together than separately. Good partnerships and good acquisition targets will not only advance your penetration in your target customer base but will also bolster your competitive position in the broader ecosystem.

Once you have a clear picture of the opportunities available to you in the broader market, it’s time to look inward and examine your core strengths—we call these value drivers—to see how you can optimize your strategic advantage.

Step Three: Outline Your Value Drivers

Value drivers are the building blocks of value creation in your business. They can be divided into three main groups: core metrics, strategic drivers and premium opportunities.

1. Core metrics

Core financial and business metrics measure the strength and momentum of your company. At Georgian, we encourage our companies to use a metrics framework called the G7, in addition to any metrics that are uniquely indicative of their growth and success. Your core metrics should provide an objective picture of the current state of your business, highlight areas for future improvement, and should be measured regularly to identify trends and changes.

Any future investors, strategic partners or acquirers will measure the strength of your business through these metrics. When sharing them externally, it’s important to consider the audience and have a clear story for each metric – what does it say about your business and why is it a critical measurement?

2. Strategic drivers

As I have evaluated companies for investment and acquisition over the years, I have developed a “buyer’s mindset” and have seen patterns in how buyers and investors think. Once a buyer gets past your core metrics, they will often examine the following elements of your business:

We recommend going through each of the eight sections in the graphic above and answering the following questions:

  1. Is this a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat?
  2. How do you measure success right now? What data points do you have?
  3. Amongst your strengths, what stands out as highly differentiated?

What you’re looking for during this exercise are the elements that make up your company’s secret sauce. If these are the key ingredients of value creation, where do you shine?

By mapping your strategic drivers in this format, you can visualize your strengths to double down on, and weaknesses to address.

3. Premium opportunities

We call high-value growth and expansion opportunities—both the realistic and the moonshots—premium opportunities. These opportunities are the aspirational vision for the future of your business and provide a roadmap for long-term incremental value.

Examples of premium opportunities include:

  • Building a proprietary data moat
  • Expanding into new markets/geographies
  • Enhancing your technology through third-party integrations
  • Expansion into adjacent use cases
  • Acquisitions

The likelihood that you can achieve these premium opportunities, and the scope and scale of those opportunities, will be directly tied to your organization’s value.

Step Four: Chart the Course and Refine your Narrative

By this point, you should have a comprehensive macro view of your ecosystem, your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and a list of potential action items. While many CEOs and executives have these details in their heads, we often hear that it is a valuable exercise to zoom out and put all of this into a living, breathing document.

What you’ve done, at a high level, is develop a blueprint for the desired evolution of your business. In our experience, the most successful companies use the value creation framework as the foundation for strategic planning and execution, including:

  • Developing and measuring strategic business and growth plans
  • Positioning for future fundraising
  • Corporate development strategies, including partnerships and potential M&A
  • Long-term, proactive exit planning

Coming out of a value creation exercise, each key action item should have an assigned owner with milestones and KPIs that are communicated and tracked at the executive and board level. Ideally, you can revisit these frameworks and repeat this process every year to help set the strategy for the next fiscal year, with a cadence of quarterly checkpoints.

Interested in running your own value creation exercise? We run guided workshops through the Georgian CoLab – our pre-investment program for growth-stage companies. Apply today.

The post An Executive Framework for Value Creation and Strategic Planning appeared first on Georgian.

Welcome Orchest – the latest Open Source company to emerge from Seedcamp


This post is by Natasha Lytton from Seedcamp

Orchest cofounders Yannick Perrenet and Rick Lamers

Earlier this year, we invested in Rick and Yannick, founders of Orchest, a new open source tool for creating data science pipelines. The new wave of open source companies is something we’ve been following closely at Seedcamp and is a subject area we recently delved into over on the podcast. Kyran, from our Investment team, adds:

“From e-commerce through to financial services, healthcare and logistics, data science is becoming ever more mission-critical for businesses. Yet data scientists spend much of their time and energy on repetitive, largely infrastructure-related engineering tasks as opposed to what should be their core focus: training models and deriving valuable insights from them.

When we first met Rick and Yannick, we were massively excited by their mission to unburden data scientists from these tasks. As data scientists and engineers themselves, they had great empathy for the particular pain points here; what’s more, in their previous projects like Grid Studio, they showed a canny ability to foster early developer interest around what they were building. This convinced us they were a particularly well-equipped team when it came to open source strategy, and we’re delighted to support them on their journey.”

We sat down with CEO and co-founder, Rick Lamers, to explore more about Orchest; from ideation to what the future of data science looks like and why they decided open source was key in developing this new tool. Over to you Rick!

Where did the inspiration for Orchest come from and what specific problems are you trying to solve?

The ideas for Orchest developed while we were still in University. We were taking Computer Science courses about machine learning, distributed systems, and statistics, while at the same time applying these topics as part-time data scientists for large companies.

We noticed how many distracting engineering challenges came up while trying to do real-world data projects, such as training predictive models and making results and data available to data scientist colleagues and clients.

Ultimately, we concluded that much of data scientists’ workload should be offloaded by tools that take care of the standard, mundane and technical tasks, which they currently have to do themselves. Today, data scientists are often left reinventing the wheel, and from what we observed in practice these weren’t the best wheels either.

Can you walk us through your backstory and how you met?

In August 2019 I open-sourced a project that I had been working on over the previous summer called Grid Studio. A browser based spreadsheet application with the ability to easily make use of the Python programming language. To my surprise the project grew in popularity rapidly, gaining over 5000 GitHub stars in the first 21 days. The growth prompted interest from investors such a16z, Redpoint Ventures, and other prominent technology investors about what was next with the project, even though behind the scenes I was already working on a new and different project which would form the basis of Orchest.

I then visited the Bay Area and spoke to multiple investors, including angel investor Anthony Goldbloom (founder of Kaggle) about our new plans to start Orchest. After getting many supportive and encouraging reactions, Yannick and I decided it was the right time to drop out of the 2nd year of our master’s to start working on Orchest full time.

We come from different backgrounds but ended up meeting at TU Delft. Yannick got his BSc. in Mathematics from TU Delft. However, he always had a knack for programming as he was teaching Python to company employees during his undergrad already.  Before coming to Delft, I studied at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. There I pursued a master’s in Entrepreneurship & New Business Venturing. I had been programming since age 14, and I knew I always wanted to deepen my CS fundamentals. After getting a University master degree I saw the opportunity to do a master in CS at TU Delft, at which I ended up getting accepted after having to plead my case for admittance due to coming from a, from their perspective, rather unusual background.

At TU Delft, Yannick and I often talked about math, CS, software, and startups. During our usual canteen lunch break we chatted about things we were up to, opportunities we saw and we generally started identifying areas of interest around software and starting a company.

Can you tell us more about your decision to open source the product and technology

If you look at the landscape of data science tools today, it’s predominantly open source. We believe that’s for a very good reason. Data science is firmly rooted in the scientific communities around the world. With the open mindset of academia and its proponents it makes sense that many great tools, libraries, and frameworks are made available open source. Many projects get their start in publicly funded research labs that are working on state of the art techniques. Take for example the terrific scikit-learn package. It was created by researchers in France working at Inria, a French research institute.

With Orchest, we wanted to respect the tradition of open source and we had great examples of companies that showed that you could combine open source software with a for-profit company. Influential examples are companies like Hashicorp, GitLab, Elastic, and Confluent. In addition, we are big fans of open source ourselves. From a developer perspective, it’s awesome to be able to quickly download and play with a piece of software to understand its use cases, design decisions and applicability. That’s the kind of experience we want to give to our users and customers too.

How have you geared up to officially launch Orchest to the world?

We prepared by first deciding which elements were critical to make sure we could launch. In the end, we figured that we’d need at least a website that would show professionalism and communicate the key features of the MVP. In addition, we needed to have these key features working in the MVP that when combined would already provide a useful tool to the early users of the product.

Looking back we think this worked out well because a few weeks ago we launched Orchest on the infamous Hacker News platform and received some great initial reactions. We even found out that someone had hunted us on Product Hunt unexpectedly and that we had reached the front page on there too.

Although the launch was really helpful in getting some early feedback from potential users and finding companies that are interested in being pilot users of the managed cloud version, we very much feel like we’re just getting started. The open-source MVP is starting to take shape, and more and more valuable use cases are being unlocked every time we commit our latest changes to the GitHub repository.

What is next on the horizon for Orchest?

We are looking for awesome people to join us on our mission to build the world’s best tools for data scientists and their teams. At the same time, we want to engage companies that are looking to leverage data and the PyData/R stack to accelerate our product development in exactly the right direction. They will benefit from feature development directly aimed at their needs, while we learn which valuable use cases are most prevalent and how we can support those even better with Orchest. If you are interested in trying out the managed cloud version you can sign up for early access through this Typeform.

What do you think the future of data science looks like?

Data science will move from laptops to the cloud. No company wants their sensitive data stored directly on employees laptops. Cloud computing is just a vastly superior mode of operation, due to its removal of non-core activities from companies and inherently more secure and scalable properties.

Furthermore, we believe we will continue to see a lot of innovation happening in open source tools & frameworks, and data science teams need to be able to leverage the collective innovation that is being spearheaded by great initiatives such as Apache Arrow/Kafka/Cassandra/Hadoop/Spark, PyTorch/Tensorflow, PyData/R ecosystem, etc.

In addition, we are big believers in the power of interactive computing and the direct feedback model that enables an experimental workflow that leads to great discoveries in data and solutions that actually contribute to the bottom line. The phenomenal success of projects like Jupyter and their interactive notebooks reaffirm this. Hence, we decided to make notebooks first class citizens in Orchest’s data science pipelines, and we will continue to develop features that make building and running data pipelines simpler for data scientists.

What brought you to Seedcamp?

Seedcamp has been a leading seed investor in Europe for quite a while now. You were on my radar many many years before we ever had any contact. I just checked my inbox and saw I subscribed to Seedcamp’s newsletter back in April 2015. I’ve always looked at the companies, events, and blog posts from a distance. Trying to understand startups and venture capital and generally just observing all the awesome technology companies they are investing in. Understanding what these companies are doing, and playing with their cool products of course.

Serendipitously, we connected during our recent fundraise through a great introduction that was made by another investor who saw a potential match. Our initial call with Kyran was great, he asked all the right questions and really got what we were trying to do with Orchest.

Any advice for founders starting their business now?

Keep believing in what you’re doing. For years on end, you and perhaps a handful of others are the only ones that are seeing the opportunity and have the belief in what you’re trying to do. It’s critical to not get discouraged. Over time, people will start seeing merit once you’ve had time to develop your ideas and implement them in one form or another.

Try to find the balance between your own convictions and what the market is telling you. They won’t be able to tell you what to build or how to build your product. But they surely will tell you whether they like it or not, and whether it solves their problems for them. That being said, it’s really critical to ‘find your crowd’. Identify the communities that are most interested in what you’re doing because they care deeply about the topics involved. They can be great evangelists, early users, customers, etc. A great marketing perspective on this comes from Seth Godin talking about the concept of Otaku and the value of making something remarkable.

Lastly, look for people that can help you. Building a scalable company is incredibly difficult. It requires skill, patience, luck, capital, and a small army of phenomenal individuals. Even when you have all of that, things can still go wrong. There’s no reason not to accept all the help you can get, as people have been in similar situations before and their advice can help a lot. It’s also great to have people rooting for you when times are tough.

Just do it!

Finding Trust Partners


This post is by David Poole from Georgian

Finding Trust Partners

B2B software companies don’t need to go it alone when it comes to addressing trust with customers, investors, regulators and employees. You can partner with vendors to accelerate your company’s trust maturity. Here, we share some ideas on what to look for in a trust partner. Below, you’ll find our Trust Market Map which highlights promising trust-focused solutions for B2B software companies that we are aware of.

1.

ENSURE VISION LOCK:

Make sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding the importance of trust and that you are working toward a well-defined, mutually beneficial outcome. Choose partners who address your weaknesses or build on your strengths — without adding any trust liabilities in the process. For instance, make sure your security vendor has a privacy policy at least as strong as yours.

2.

Conduct Comprehensive Diligence :

Use an objective scorecard that covers all six pillars of trust to assess potential partners. Look for potential failure points, and make a mitigation plan. Make sure to evaluate both upstream processes — to ensure data coming to you has been collected fairly and transparently — and downstream processes — to make sure you can maintain data privacy and enforce use requirements.

3.

Maintain the Relationship Over Time :

Periodically revisit your relationship assumptions to maintain vision lock. Reciprocity earns trust in relationships, so be transparent about your own trust goals and achievements with your partner and make sure you give as much or more than you take from the relationship.

Georgian’s Trust Market Map

Georgian's Market Map

If you would like to discuss the market map or any of the content in this report, we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to us at info@georgianpartners.com.

Continue reading

This post is part of our 2020 State of Trust Report. If you don’t see a menu on the left of your screen, dive into the rest of the report here.

The post Finding Trust Partners appeared first on Georgian.

Transparency in 2020


This post is by David Poole from Georgian

The State of Transparency

Making sense of the 24-hour news cycle has felt like a full-time job in recent months. Each of your stakeholders is in the same boat. We’re all trying to process information from multiple channels, at the same time, while making decisions based on limited information and conflicting guidelines.

In these circumstances, business leaders might be tempted to opt out of adding to the noise. But the need for clear and open communication is greater than ever. It’s noticeable that after a wave of largely similar COVID-19-related mass emails and TV ads, corporate comms have faded.

From COVID-19 messages of sympathy to anti-racism calls for solidarity, many software leaders have communicated honestly and genuinely with their teams, customers and other stakeholders — and have rightly earned praise and the loyalty of their ecosystem for their approach. That is why our key trend for 2020 is leadership and communication in uncertain times.

Transparency Defined:

Transparency entails being open about your product, business model and policies, and explaining them in clear terms to users. This includes understanding user expectations and being prepared to describe your entire approach, from the choices you make in system and organizational design to the individual predictions of machine learning models.

Key Trends in Transparency in 2020

TRANSPARENCY: TREND 1

Leadership and Communication in Uncertain Times

As business leaders, you have made countless tough decisions about how to operate through this pandemic. When have there been such overwhelming quantities of information paired with so much uncertainty?

While there wasn’t a playbook for this pandemic, it’s clear that companies who treated their employees and customers well are emerging strongly.

That’s not surprising when surveys reveal that 52% of US online adults prefer to buy from companies that show how they are protecting customers against the threat of COVID-19.

Our Prediction

A New Generation of Leaders Is Forged

One of the silver linings of COVID-19 will be a generation of leaders who are comfortable communicating even more openly to their workforces. Going forward, there will be an emphasis on improving leadership response to unforeseen circumstances for better risk management and adaptability to change.

Best-in-Class Responses

WHAT TO DO


  • Take an open, learning approach by actively listening, being inclusive and trusting your team.

  • Keep messages simple and brief; start with empathy, use trusted messengers and prepare for pushback.

  • Ensure responsibilities are clear — and over-communicate them when working remotely.

  • Make time to care for your people; spot signs of stress, and create opportunities to socialize.

Transparency: TREND 2

Trackability and Traceability in Supply Chains

In recent years, regulators have stepped forward to enforce supply chain visibility when it comes to slave labor and conflict minerals.

After high-profile COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing facilities and deliveries of defective PPE to hospitals, expect to hear more about traceability—and not just in the context of the coronavirus.

Georgian Impact PodcastShabbir Dahod

Episode 95: Data, Trust and the Pharmaceutical Value Chain with Shabbir Dahod

“Ultimately, the main reason why pharmaceutical companies are doing this is that they want to be the ‘trust’ company that secures the product all the way through the supply chain and participate in an ecosystem that creates a trust bond that can be passed down all the way to the patient.”

Our Prediction

Traceability Solutions Spread Beyond Compliance

More companies will add tools to track the provenance of goods and services as traceability becomes a more visible part of our daily lives. Solution providers will emerge to help produce interactive marketing tools so customers can interact with a brand’s supply chain.

WHAT TO DO


  • Assess how valuable the traceability of your products’ origins are to your stakeholders.

  • Understand what technologies and solutions are available: Perform a cost- benefit analysis of rolling out a comprehensive solution.

  • Anticipate the risks to your suppliers and buyers of collecting more sensitive data.

TRANSPARENCY: TREND 3

Out with transparency reports

Transparency reports were once all the rage, but the practice of publishing one has waned since 2013. According to Access Now, not a single household name in tech has published a transparency report for the first time since early 2016. Without them, we’re left wondering about how often governments have demanded data about users or removal of content.

Georgian Impact Podcast

Episode 103: A Wall Street We Can All Trust with Brad Katsuyama

“Incentives are what drive decision-making, and I think if incentives are properly aligned, trust can be built. Transparency can’t just be in our mission statement or something we put on our website, you have to live it.”

Our Prediction

Content Platforms Compete To Be Most Virtuous

Transparency reports may never return, but transparency over content moderation will. Twitter’s stance on fact-checking and hiding tweets made by President Trump will put pressure on other tech platforms to do the same (for all parties) as the election draws closer. This will in turn put pressure on all tech companies to think about how they handle transparency.

WHAT TO DO


  • Be open about what data you collect and why.

  • Communicate the company’s mission, values and vision, and tie those to why and how decisions are made.

  • Proactively disclose any potential issues, and provide a means of comfort to those who may show concern.

Transparency: Key Takeaways

Be open and honest about what you are building and what motivates you. Unexpected things will happen — when they do, be prepared to communicate transparently and authentically to maintain trust.

Businesses have the opportunity to differentiate on transparency by being open about their product, business model, and processes and communicating clearly and authentically with all stakeholders when issues arise. In summary, tech leaders should consider these important points in 2020:

  • 1
    One of the silver linings of COVID-19 will be a generation of leaders who are comfortable communicating even more openly to their workforces. Going forward, there will be an emphasis on improving leadership response to unforeseen circumstances for better risk management and adaptability to change.
  • 2
    More companies will add tools to track the provenance of goods and services as traceability becomes a more visible part of our daily lives. Solution providers will emerge to help produce interactive marketing tools so customers can interact with a brand’s supply chain.
  • 3
    Transparency reports may never return, but transparency over content moderation will. Twitter’s stance on fact-checking and hiding tweets made by President Trump will put pressure on other tech platforms to do the same (for all parties) as the election draws closer. This will in turn put pressure on all tech companies to think about how they handle transparency.

Transparency Checklist

Leadership and Communication in Uncertain Times


  • Take an open, learning approach by actively listening, being inclusive and trusting your team.

  • Keep messages simple and brief; start with empathy, use trusted messengers and prepare for pushback.

  • Ensure responsibilities are clear — and over-communicate them when working remotely.

  • Make time to care for your people; spot signs of stress, and create opportunities to socialize.

Trackability and Traceability in Supply Chains


  • Assess how valuable the traceability of your products’ origins are to your stakeholders.

  • Understand what technologies and solutions are available: Perform a cost-benefit analysis of rolling out a comprehensive solution.

  • Anticipate the risks to your suppliers and buyers of collecting more sensitive data.

Out with Transparency Reports


  • Be open about what data you collect and why.

  • Communicate the company’s mission, values and vision, and tie those to why and how decisions are made.

  • Proactively disclose any potential issues, and provide a means of comfort to those who may show concern.

Continue reading

This post is part of our 2020 State of Trust Report. If you don’t see a menu on the left of your screen, dive into the rest of the report here.

The post Transparency in 2020 appeared first on Georgian.