People ask us at NextView all of the time: “What is the typical profile of an entrepreneur in your portfolio?” Subtly behind that question is often one about the experience-level of the founders. The answer, however, doesn’t fit into a neat soundbite. We have and will continue to fund young entrepreneurs in their twenties – and as my partner Rob Go likes to say, we’re proud of it. We also especially have an affinity for what we call Tom Brady Entrepreneurs – executives with experience who have seen the playbook for success and are now ready to become the starting quarterback for the first time. And we’ve also funded a number of serial entrepreneurs who are doing it again (and again).
Rather than age or the length of a resume, the more important quality which we look at is authenticity, one of the core aspects of our Ethos here at NextView. What we mean is that we identify best with entrepreneurs driven to solve problems realized through their own genuine experiences.
Younger entrepreneurs are “digital natives,” having had the unique background of growing up entirely with the internet as a presence in their lives. That perspective goes a very long way into creating a service which can be truly transformative yet integrated in how people inherently interact with the web.
For founders who have more working experience in large companies or at startups, those who resonate with authenticity are most often those who are addressing problems/opportunities which they have observed first-hand. From that observation, they are creating a real solution, not just a business for the sake of financial gain. It always baffles me when we see pitches from entrepreneurs who have some great deep-domain expertise in their backgrounds and they’ve deliberately decided to pursue something in a different space. Great ideas search for a great entrepreneur; great entrepreneurs don’t search for a great idea. That is not to say that truly exceptional serial entrepreneurs can’t be successful with new endeavors outside the domain of their earlier startup(s), but there is a clear distinction between eschewing past experience and pursuing true opportunity. Authenticity isn’t about a verticalized understanding of an industry, it’s about having a genuine narrative of why you’re pursuing a specific endeavor and what in your personal story can be leveraged to give you an unfair advantage for success.
So if you look at all of the founding teams in our portfolio, the one typical profile which is common throughout is the experience of having an authentic passion for creating something that is uniquely true to the context of their own individual lives.