AGILEVC My idle thoughts on tech startups

February 7, 2012

Those of you who’ve visited the NextView website may have seen a Ethos section where we describe five tenets of how we approach things… Golazo, Authentic, Blank Canvas, Invited Guest, and Tribe.  I wanted to touch on ‘golazo’ as it’s my fault we use this strange verbiage, but also a critical element we look for in all the startups we invest in.

Golazo is a slang word in Spanish used to describe truly special goals scored in a soccer match.  Watch enough soccer on Telemundo or Univision and you’ll occasionally hear the commentators shout it at the top of their lungs, or just search on YouTube and you’ll get some examples.  There’s no literal translation of golazo into English, but the characteristics which distinguish a golazo from a run of the mill goal are that it’s amazing, colossal, and/or improbable in nature.

These are the same qualities we’re looking for in terms of ambition and potential scale of the startups we invest in.  As a seed-focused VC fund we invest comparatively small sums of capital at the very beginning of a startup’s life.  But everything we invest in has to have the potential to be a large, transformative business someday.  A company that in time can generate $100M+ in revenue and have an enterprise value measured in the hundreds of millions or more (what some VCs refer to as a “venture scale” outcome).  Simply put… startups that have golazo potential.

Obviously not every startup we invest in will become a golazo.  The potential for outsized investment return only comes with taking significant risk, especially when investing at the seed stage, so many of the companies we invest in will ultimately be unsuccessful.  Some may end up having more modest outcomes that product a decent return on investment, which we fully understand and are supportive of.  But for us that can’t be the goal at the outset and we try to be up front with entrepreneurs that we meet that we’re not the right investment partner if that’s what they’re looking for.

When we started NextView we wanted to describe our ethos in our own words.  Some of the elements we chose are less common concepts among VCs, but in two cases we have to tip our hats to other firms where we adopted an existing best practice.  One is striving to be an “invited guest” at the entrepreneur’s table, a notion that Greylock has both espoused and practiced for decades.  Also our ethos of golazo is conceptually similar to what Venrock describes as a “glimmer of greatness” that David picked up during his time there.

But as I said, we had to put NextView’s ethos in our own words.  I’m a complete nut about soccer… I played in my youth and have been an avid fan for many years.  I’ve been to a World Cup (South Korea 2002), gold medal Olympic soccer matches (men & women Beijing 2008), English Premier League, MLS, heck even AYSO.  Proof in point is my license plate:

So it always had to be golazo…

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  • I'm a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur turned East Coast VC. I co-founded NextView Ventures, a seed-stage VC firm based in Boston, in 2010. Read More »

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