MMC has been backing early-stage companies for 20 years and over that period, we have been shifting and evolving. In recent years that has meant a greater focus on core specialisms within the team and a research-led approach to technologies, sectors and business models that excite us.
We wanted to ensure this evolution was reflected in everything we do. So we've spent some time thinking about how we participate in a changing ecosystem, where there is a lot of noise and excitement but real depth of contribution is... mixed.
This post highlights what we learned. It's not just about our shiny new look (although we hope you like it) - it's about the commitments we are making, and what you can expect to keep coming from MMC.
What we heard from you
It’s hard to understand your community and your role in it from a single point of view. We wanted to learn what founders wanted from VCs in general and from us. We wanted more information.
So we reached out - through friends who helped us anonymise everything - to get straight, honest feedback. We heard from founders that work with us now or have done in the past; founders who knew us but had chosen a different VC partner; and some with no direct experience working with MMC. We also sought input from other VCs, investors/LPs and people in the ecosystem.
Over 18 hours of research calls and meetings later, here are the key takeaways:
1. Founders are wary of egotists and ‘biscuit-eaters’
In founders’ eyes, the worst kind of VC is arrogant, self-interested or disrespectful, seeing their businesses as nothing more than an investment vehicle. Turning up to board meetings just for the reporting (and the biscuits).
“There’s a perception generally, amongst founders that attitudes amongst VCs are quite bad. I would say it’s kind of an industry problem. A kind of level of ruthlessness and disrespect.”
2. They want long-term partners you can relate to
Founders are all different and have varying needs and approaches. But what most founders seem to value most in a VC is a long-term partner that believes in their vision and whom they can see themselves building a relationship with.
“If you feel like you’re on different sides of the table then I don’t think you have honest conversations, and honest conversations are where you get the most value from.”
3. They’re looking for relevant expertise
All the founders talked about the value of accessing expertise that is highly relevant to their particular business or the challenges they’re facing. But also, for the VC to have the self-awareness to know where they can and can’t add value.
“They don’t have to be able to solve it themselves. If they understand it, and they’ve seen it before, they can point us in a certain direction. That’s super helpful.”
4. They want partners that will support them through the tough times
Founders are on challenging journeys, professionally and personally. They want a partner that will be supportive through thick and thin.
“I look for people who understand that the journey is a lot of ups and a lot of downs. People who have built businesses and can try to help me shape some of the important things.”
Where does MMC fit?
When it came to feedback on what these same founders thought of MMC, four key points kept coming through.
1. Our research is a big talking point
Many of the respondents knew of our published research from the last few years – deep dives into emerging technologies, playbooks to help translate that into actionable advice and so on.
2. The whole MMC team go way beyond surface expectations
Our research effort doesn’t begin and end with our published work. It’s fundamental to what we do, and to how we do it. Each member of the investment team commits to specific sectors, technologies and aspects of the growth journey in which to deepen their knowledge so they can add value.
3. We have a high level of commitment
Our team shows up. We immerse ourselves in the details in order to be an active and well-prepared partner. We're by founders' side, supporting them as they drive their business forward and tackle the trickiest challenges.
4. Integrity and thoughtfulness run through our culture
We'll be honest - this one was challenging at first. Years of seeing "integrity" on corporate value statements has made it sound inauthentic. But this came back time and again in the feedback from all directions. So we’re owning it.
5. It's not the 'what' - it's the 'how'
When we considered our role in this community, we realised that most other VCs define themselves more by WHAT they do (what kinds of companies they invest in; what markets; what stage) rather than HOW they do things.
But to us, that seems to miss the point. We are defined by what you can expect from working with us, which is about who we are and how we operate.
We commit to be deeply invested
So we are making a commitment to those that choose to work with us— a commitment to go deeper. To be more knowledgeable. To be better long-term partners. In short, to be deeply invested:
- ...in our entrepreneurs: Going beyond expectations to support founders through thick and thin.
- ...in their businesses: Turning up well-prepared and knowledgeable. Helping to actively tackle problems.
- ...in the technology and business model: Making sure we have a deep understanding - to help make better decisions and be more effective partners.
- ...in the ecosystem: Reaching out to, and bringing together, experts in each field.
- ...in our own people: Building a diverse team with a collaborative and supportive culture.
This commitment to go deeper connects us to the companies we back. Although we invest in a broad range of early-stage businesses and sectors, what unites them is also the depth of their thinking and approach: rewiring the fundamentals of a category, rebuilding infrastructure, or developing enabling tech to transform other businesses. These companies are the ones making the most radical changes at the core, which in turn have the most transformative impact on the world.
So what makes MMC different? It’s the degree and depth to which we commit to be the best partner to transformative tech companies.
In short, we are deeply invested because you are.