“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
At Nex Cubed, we invest in startups at the pre-seed and seed stage. Without a significant track record to review, much of our evaluation of a startup is based on our assessment of the Founder’s personal and professional qualities. Do they have the talent, aptitude, grit, respect for others, and leadership qualities to grow their business?
In a COVID-dominated world, where in-person meetings are less frequent, a Founder’s digital presence becomes even more important. This means reviewing a demo day pitch on YouTube, reading previous blog posts, and even checking out their social media feeds – all part of the process conducted in advance to give us the overarching view of the Founder we meet via Zoom calls which are now the norm. Since Founders can, for the most part, control their digital presence, if we discover a theme that does not align with our core values of integrity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, then we will not invest in them or their brand. It’s that simple. We encountered this situation recently, and swiftly reversed course on the intended support within hours of learning the Founder’s shared views online did not align with our standards.
This investment philosophy is not proprietary to Nex Cubed. As such, we remind our Founders that they epitomize their companies at all times, whether online or in-person. When we make an investment at Nex Cubed, we represent to our investors and corporate partners that the startup and the people behind the startup share our values. While we take pride in the fact that we set a high bar in that regard, we also recognize that each situation is different and a level of grace is sometimes required when it comes to understanding our Founders’ motivations. One misstep could be accounted for as being out of character, but it’s equally important to remember that a pattern of behavior tends to reveal genuine character.
The entrepreneurial journey is hard enough without complicating matters with a lack of judgment when it comes to creating a digital footprint. At a time when true first impressions are a thing of the past due to a 24/7 presence that can be accessed via social media, it is the Founder’s responsibility to make sure they are putting their best foot forward both virtually and in-person.