So how can we get better at investing on the frontiers? Surely betting on the team alone isn't a sound investment strategy.
From my conversations the current practices seem to be either focused on 'rolling up the sleeves' and getting involved directly (few, high-cost investments) or being a hands-off patron (many small investments). Either that or back off from the frontiers and use conditional investment to achieve specific results (e.g. disadvantaged employment or other enviro-social activities). The limitations in each of those should be fairly self-evident.
So what else could we make bets on? Well if venturing is a process, we could bet on the process they are following. If we know plans are not static, what is the venture doing to continue the process of framing, planning, and connecting?
And what other practices could we employ? Well if one of the biggest chips an investor brings to the game is their social capital, well then how can that capital be better employed in the task of connecting? Going back to the image above, we can see that at minimum it requires a venture to have articulated simple and accessible spaces. I wonder - how many entrepreneurs and their investors would truly describe the primary spaces of their venture in the same way? How about in your venture or your portfolio? My bet is that's strongly correlated to the difference between friction and luck.
Summing up, that leaves us with making bets on:
- a team;
- their venturing process; and
- their spaces (accessible and simply articulated).
Now that's an investment space I'd bet on.