Well — that went fast!!!!!! We have had well over 150+ meetings with founders, angels, VCs, incubators, accelerators, family offices, investment funds, and tech executives. It’s been an exhilarating first 120 days so we wanted to share our progress and what we have learned. Think of this as our first “self-review”.
Our Initial Hypothesis has Been Confirmed
- Money does not equal success— The insight around the explosion of money and funding these last few years yet not seeing the same lift in company success has been reinforced.
- Crucial conversations don’t happen — Founders and investors struggle to have the real discussions that would materially impact a company’s success. A number of founders voice questions and concerns that they would be tentative to share with others, including their investors. We have seen lead investors likewise hesitant to share hard messages with their founders.
- Founders are lonely and in need of real help beyond money — Building a sustainable and impactful company takes time, experience and grit. Founders need an outlet through which they can be really honest about what they need help with and trusted partners to help overcome obstacles (including the ones they don’t know are coming yet).
What has Been Most Surprising
- Lack of Alignment from Advisors, Consultants, and Coaches— There is fatigue stemming from “introductions” that have been made by advisors, consultants, and coaches. Founders are tired of being told what to do and instead want to be shown how to do it. The lack of alignment between partners and the definition of success has been eye opening.
- Vulnerability, Humbleness, and being OK not knowing everything— We have seen a side of founders that we think most don’t see and that’s because of our unique approach. We have seen founders be vulnerable with us and not feel like they have to be somebody they are not.
Founders Most Trusted Partner
- Evaluation process— We built a system that ensures we are looking at all opportunities consistently across diverse dimensions (including founder, leadership team, product impact, financials, business drivers, etc.), resulting in a process that is both art and science.
- Founder engagement — We have met over 50 founders and their teams, with introductions coming from Oceans trusted founders, investors, VCs, and strategic friends. We are working with several founders now helping solve critical foundational problems including business model, capital allocation, hiring strategies for key functional roles, go to market approach, the hard conversations with lead investors, attracting the best talent, retaining employees, managing people for the first time, and so much more.
- Our business model will continue to evolve— We are looking at different ways to ensure our mission of being “founder friendly” so that everything we do is earned because we are committed to putting in the work.
- Giving up equity/cash is hard — It isn’t always clear to founders that a longer-term view of the economics is healthier for the enterprise. The idea of growing the overall pie by focusing on impact and outcomes early comes with experience. It’s a big opportunity to educate the market and provide a unique perspective and narrative on this — one that is in a founder’s best interest in the long run.
- We are a people company— Given our experience in hiring and evaluating talent, there is a clear opportunity to set founders up for success by building and delivering infrastructure and programs for long-term impact. The talent game is tough and expensive, so putting in the time with founders will pay major long term dividends for those who can slow down to go fast.
What We Are Looking For
- East Coast based startups — Ideally around 10–30 employees with a highly technical leadership team.
- Repeat founders building something they are passionate about — Who have great potential and could move up the growth curve materially with some hands-on help from experienced builders.
A special thanks to Albert Wenger, Barry Schuler, Charlie Federman, Eric Hippeau, John Borthwick, Jon Auerbach, Larry Wagenberg, Matt Wyndowe, Mike Murphy, Nihal Mehta, and Taryn Langer. Your advice, introductions, and hospitality has led to us building our foundation.
Thanks to Brett Wein, David Beck, Eran Lobel, Evan Schwartz, Fabio Freyre, Jason Krebs, Jay Vadrevu, Jeff Glueck, John Hadl, Jon Kaplan, Ken Goldman, Kevin Chernett, Lars Albright, Mike Katz, Mike Owen, Phuc Truong, Rob Wilk, Russell Wallach, Sarah Baehr, Stephen Colvin, Steven Kritzman, Will Margiloff, Xavier Kochhar, and many more. To have such broad support from influential people in tech, media, and entertainment is a real differentiator — and is allowing us to establish a platform for the community of partners we are building.
We come from a world where we believe that if you build a great product, money will follow. We believe we are developing the best product for founders for the next decade and investing significant resources to build a platform “by founders for founders”. We have a lot more to do and are already enjoying the journey. To the founders we have been working with, please continue to push us and call us at all hours of the night! And for everybody else, please connect first here, ask questions later!
Finally, we want to be transparent about what we are doing and didn’t want to just share this as an update to those closest to us, so we decided to share with others.