17 Jun 2021

The Power of Startup Communities

By Paul Miller

When we assess founders applying for our Tech for Good programme, there’s one factor we use that you might not expect a VC firm to care about. We score each team on whether we think they will provide a valuable contribution to the BGV community. So in addition to assessing their specific business and chances of succeeding, we also ask ourselves whether they will help make the whole BGV ecosystem more valuable.

The venture capital industry has evolved a great deal over the last 50 years. It was initially an industry of ‘lone wolves’. The support and access to networks that founders received from their investors was usually limited to the individual partner they worked with. They would come to board meetings, they would help with introductions but not much else; it was individual investors that founders were buying into. 

In the 2000s a new model started to emerge, often called the ‘platform’ model of venture capital. This goes beyond the value that individual VC partners provide and offers a platform of support to all their portfolio companies. Often this includes learning and development for founders, help with HR or the likes of outsourced back office functions. 

At BGV, while we incorporate some elements of the platform model, we aim to go even further than that by building a VC firm that is a valuable community for founders. In our case, the community is united by their belief in tech and business as a force for good. So while every individual investment decision matters and we take very seriously the direct support that we offer to each venture, we think there’s huge value in building a community where the sum is greater than its parts.

Ultimately we believe this approach will provide even more value to our investors because companies that are supported by a vibrant community, where shared learnings, networks and support are far greater than any one investor could provide, are more likely to succeed.

 

This piece was first published in the June issue of our monthly investor newsletter – ‘The Practical Optimist.’ Sign-up here to receive the latest thinking, resources and events for investors in tech for good and impact, straight to your inbox.