When we started NextView Ventures, we deliberately took time during our first offsite together to define a shared sense of “Ethos” which we are going to use as guiding principles in building our firm. All five of them (Authentic, Blank Canvas, Golazo, Invited Guest, & Tribe) we’ve listed on our website since it went live a little more than a year ago, and my partners in recent blog posts have discussed in more detail two qualities of our Ethos, Invited Guest and Golazo. As we dig deeper into the remaining characteristics, I wanted to talk a little about what we mean by “Tribe.”
Our website’s page on Tribe starts with the statement, “Building and investing in great companies is not a solo sport.” And we subscribe to the concept of Tribe to address that truism. Merriam Webster defines tribe as “a group of persons having a common character or interest.” For us, we’ve joined a number of Tribes which are part of our Ethos.
First, we consider our NextView partnership to be a Tribe. The three of us strive to have our behavior and interactions with entrepreneurs exhibit that common character which we share, as Rob talked about in our Invited Guest post. But the concept of Tribe also extends beyond a sense of responsibility we have when we’re meeting with new entrepreneurs; it includes how we act as a cooperative partnership. All venture capital partnerships fall along a spectrum where on one pole are individual contributors hunting on a shared platform, to the other end where the partners act in unison a real team. At NextView, we aim to be on the far end of the latter side. This stance translates from the language we use, as well as how we act (which Rob has detailed in a previous post). And most importantly, we make investment decisions as a team, and we then stand by them as a unified team. That means that even when an investment decision itself is contentious, once a company becomes part of our portfolio, all of us act in 110% support of it regardless of how we felt about the original selection. There is no second-guessing or I-told-you-so’s whenever any of these startups face (inevitable) challenges. We are instead a Tribe with equal common interest of striving to help make each one of our portfolio companies a success.
So the sense of Tribe, then, extends beyond our partnership to our family of entrepreneurs with whom we work. Rob, Lee, and I actively become involved operationally with each and every one of our investments, especially at the seed stage. And through internal collaboration tools and forums we’ve introduced, Founders and CEOs of NextView portfolio companies help each other out with advice, support, and connections. It’s been enriching to see multiple instances where portfolio companies have assisted each other in the pursuit of good for the entire NextView Tribe.
Lastly, we at NextView consider ourselves to be part of a greater Tribe within the entrepreneurial web and mobile community. It is a belief that it is our responsibility not just be participants in, but rather active contributors to the overall ecosystem. This belief translates into all three of us engaging in activities that aren’t necessarily tied to just finding our next investment, but instead to really enhancing the overall entrepreneurial landscape. For example, in the past year, we have partnered with, spoken at, or participated in events/organizations at Harvard, MIT, Babson, Northeastern, BC, BU, MassChallenge, Dogpatch Labs, TechStars, Betaspring, Bostinno, General Assembly, and the Web Innovators Group; just to name a few. It’s these and the other many smaller but impactful things we do to contribute which lead us to consider ourselves part of the greater Tribe.
For us, the idea of Tribe is really a set of concentric circles – expanding from our partnership, to our portfolio family, to the broader community. In each area, we look to pursue that common interest in fostering every group.