In search of things new and useful.
New Look, Same Guts
Hey hey, check it out, we recently launched our new NextView website and did a refresh on our brand. The home page and the NextView blog are good starting points to explore. We also now have a dedicated page for exploring our platform of resources focused on helping startups gain traction, found here. Below are a few reflections about having gone through this process, but please, please let us know what you think!
Who Are We?
When we started NextView, we began by thinking about our product. We asked ourselves, “How do we offer something that founders want, and in fact, something that we’d want ourselves if we were raising our first round of seed funding?” We believed that our investment strategy, decision-making, internal practices, LPs, and other details flowed out of that first question.
That thinking led us to the approach and operating principles we have today. However, we’ve never done a really good job crisply articulating what it is we are all about. We had a metaphor of being a micro-brewer in the VC business, which captured the idea but wasn’t really as clear or enduring as we’d like. So with this rebrand, we wanted to simply describe our product and put it front and center.
So, who are we? We are quite simply high conviction, hands-on seed investors.
Every word is chosen carefully:
– We are high conviction. That means we lead. We try not to hang around the hoop and jump in when there is heat around an opportunity. Every company matters deeply to us – it’s not “just a seed.”
– We are hands-on. We only make a small number of investments each year per partner so that we can be hands-on. We have invested in building a platform to benefit our portfolio even though we are smaller and younger than many other venture funds. We take board seats and want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with founders at the seed stage to try to make the biggest possible impact.
– We are seed investors. Period. Only seed. Although the definition of seed is changing, we are focused on being the first institutional investor for an early-stage company, and most of our investments are pre-traction.
That’s what we do and it’s the only thing we do. Every VC encourages founders to try to be great at only one thing. The irony is that when it comes to seed investing, most VCs don’t take their own advice. Either they invest in lots and lots of seeds and build a broad portfolio, or they invest in seeds purely as an option or a side product, while their real business is putting much more money to work in later-stage companies.
We are a one-product company, and that product is a high conviction, hands-on seed investment.
Because investing is a people business, a big part of our “product” is also the set of beliefs, culture, and general “vibe” that shapes the interactions founders will have with us. When we started NextView, David, Lee, and I had a gut feeling that despite our differences, we were cut from the same cloth in some important ways. And when we formed the firm in 2010, we found it critical to articulate these ideas as our core ethos, and then try to ingrain it into our language and practices.
So, after a brief hiatus, we are bringing these ideas back as an important element of the main NextViewVentures.com website, seen subtly on the home page. (Can you find them?)
Logos are always kind of tricky, and we wrestled with this for a while. We wanted a look that was more modern, more simple, and monochromatic. More intentionally, we looked to create a logo that:
1. communicated a sense of motion. And hopefully up-and-to-the-right motion as we are obsessed with helping our portfolio companies achieve just that
2. communicated the idea of alignment. This is something our old logo had as well. One core idea behind our firm is that investors and founders by definition have different goals. But our strategy and practices are focused on trying to create productive alignment between our goals and those of founders so that we can succeed together
3. We also wanted a logo that could be drawn in a single pen-stroke. Just because we thought it would be cool 🙂
One thing that has always been important to our sites has been to make them useful and functional. We actually care less about marketing ourselves, parading the founders we’ve been lucky enough to work with, or showing that we have the coolest, glossiest site. Instead, we’ve tried to be pretty minimalist and communicate what we think founders would care about, and then get out of the way.
So the site is pretty simple. NextViewVentures.com tells you what we do and shares our ethos.
The About page shares the info that matters – our focus, our backgrounds, our portfolio, etc.
Platform is a catalog of all the resources for founders that we are working on to make your lives easier, all in the name of initial traction.
There’s also a nice inversion here that was pseudo intentional: Most of the time and the design effort was placed on resources and information important for founders. The least was on the firm’s brochure-ware. And our plan is to continue adding more and more to the resources section where we think it will be helpful to founders at the seed stage. (PS: You can subscribe here.)
That’s it! Hope you like the new site and find it useful. Any feedback or bugs you notice will be very much appreciated. Thanks to Tyler Littwin (logo), Zac Wolf (photos), Renessa Ciampa (design), and Spencer Sherman (development) for the help! It was great to collaborate together on this.