Making Satellite Offices work

Pop quiz: Name a billion dollar company (in any industry) that only has one office. Impossible, right? I got this nugget courtesy of Christoph Janz at Point Nine Capital. He’s right. Hard as I try, I can’t think of one market-leading company that has got by on one office.

If you aspire to build your own market leader, at some point, you too will have to plan for a World where your team members are in multiple locations.

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How many co-founders should you have?


My friend Austin announced yesterday that his company, Blockstream, just raised a $ 21M ‘seed’ round. While I was checking out their website to learn more about his company, I noticed that Austin is one of eleven co-founders. That got me thinking, how many co-founders should you have? Is there such a thing as too many?

Back in my VC days it was prevailing wisdom in our fund that we would not invest in companies led by a sole founder. Why? Being a founder is tough. You need a partner in crime. You need someone to live through the highs and lows with. And investors need that too. We can’t place all our hopes on one person.

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The role of a Seed Stage VC

Seed stage VCs come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like 500 Startups, write small cheques into a large number of companies. Others, like Mantella Venture Partners make a small number of investments but get heavily involved in each of them (not sure if this is still true, but Mantella used to have all its portfolio companies in its office. That’s hands on involvement…).

Now, the best entrepreneurs can choose who to raise money from. As a result, they look for things beyond money in choosing who to partner with. Usually they’re looking for some differentiated access (network), differentiated expertise, or both. Knowing this, the best seed VCs will specialize in a few areas in order to stand out.

When I was a VC I only did SaaS and e-commerce. Both of those businesses are heavily data and metrics-driven, and hence lend themselves well to what I know how to do (I did have one location-based zombie game sneak into my portfolio. But again, that’s heavily data-driven). Matt Golden of Golden Venture Partners is 100% mobile-focused. That gives him an edge over more generalized investors.

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