The Founding Story

When meeting with entrepreneurs, VCs ask a lot of questions. And, of course, most of those are about the current startup business, the market, the vision of the future, the background and capabilities of the team, etc.

But one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What is the founding story?”

How did the founders meet and eventually come together? How did the idea for the current incarnation of the business emerge? How has the winding road of the initial days given rise to the current perspective?

In short – what are all of the intangible details that make this start-up a unique coming together of people, not just a valuable coming together of human and technological capital?

Like startup offices, the founding story reveals subtle cues about a company’s core. It speaks to the culture of the leading team and how it will spread through the others that will follow. And asking about the narrative usually ignites an entrepreneur’s passion which truly drives him/her beyond the facts and figures of the business. Whether it’s a relentless pursuit towards solving a problem or an “ah-hah” moment that a problem could be solved, the distinctive details that emerge from the founding narrative bring to light a set of information that few other questions could.

Founding stories can occasionally become the stuff of legend outside a company, but they are always an important component inside every startup.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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