Friday Funism – “I’ve Seen This Movie Before”

NextView Ventures has been around now for nearly a decade, having invested in over eighty seed stage companies along the way.  On top of that, all four partners here spent meaningful time at other venture firms previously in our careers.  So as a result, collectively we’ve been intimately involved with hundreds of startups and nearly a thousand financings (including follow-ons).

Because of that experience-set, around the office here we’ve (increasingly) been using this week’s Friday Fun-ism phrase, “I’ve seen this movie before.”  While history may not exactly repeat itself, it certainly does often rhyme.  Like when you’re watching a movie for the second (or third or fourth…) time, the characters in it are experiencing the storyline for the first time, but as an observer you have knowledge of the narrative arc and forthcoming events.

And so it often goes in venture.  Similar situations crop up again and again.  Whether it’s a founder dealing with signaling issues of a Series A VC in raising her next round of financing, a larger acquirer “sniffing” a startup’s interest in being acquired multiple times on the way up, or the challenges of bringing on the first key leader at a company who isn’t a founder.  We’ve seen it.  Often a number of times.

Our “I’ve seen this movie before” phrase is spoken in situations where we have confidence anticipating the next two or three set of circumstances which are about to unfold.  And while each successive sequel in movie series doesn’t always end exactly the same way, the roles typically follow similar patterns with recognizable twists & turns.  The same is for startups.  So as high-conviction hands-on investors who are actively involved our portfolio companies at the seed stage, my partners and I strive to share this broader perspective with founders to help influence the outcomes for the better.  Because unlike watching a movie which has already been made, a startup script isn’t yet fully written.