Another phrase we use internally at NextView pretty often is that of a “favorite future”.
Early in NextView’s history, when we were raising our first fund (e.g. sometime back in 2010 or early 2011) one of the limited partners we met with asked us what our “favorite future” was for NextView. We were excited to talk about our vision and aspirations for the new VC firm we were building, but also intrigued by this as a general question.
When meeting with founders we now often ask them what their favorite future is for their startup. This is one of those questions which is phrased as a “What” but really is a lot more about “Why” and “How” ultimately. We ask it in the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of the founders’ long run vision for the business and to glean some insights into their underlying motivations for being an entrepreneur.
It’s worth noting that there is no specific “right” answer to this question. It’s not a litmus test for us to pursue an investment or not based on the exact wording or content of founders’ answer. But stuff you can often infer from founders’ responses include:
What their ambitions for this company are
Why are they working on this startup, vs another startup idea or doing any of a variety of other things with their time and energy
How they see their long run role as a leader in this organization evolving
How motivated they are to make the venture succeed, through thick and thin
You hear all sorts of fascinating things from folks when you give them an open-ended opportunity to talk about their aspirations for their startup. Sometimes it’s about an event earlier in the founders’ life that had a profound impact on them and motivated them to build this new company. One founder I work with talks about building a “100 year company” by which this person generally means a company that not only helps its customers on a daily basis but has a broader societal impact over a very long time. And again it’s not just the “what” here but really they “why” and secondarily the depth of conviction founders’ have about what they’re doing.
So what’s your favorite future?