On Friday, NextGen Venture Partners announced it closed its first fund at a sizable $22 million, marking its first official move as an angel investor network-turned-venture capital firm. Building on NextGen’s member network model, the 83 investors joined the raise and will be LPs in the fund.
Some may remember this time last year when NextGen announced they would be dropping “Angels” from its name and swapping it for “Venture Partners.” That was back when the group had raised $16 million of what was supposedly going to be a $20 million (which we now know was not the case!). The new model depends on hundreds of part-times investors who commit at least $10,000 a year in startup investments when they join and pay an annual membership fee.
Managing partner and co-founder Brett Gibson said the group decided on the pivot into a VC model to be able to better support the growing number of innovative companies in the world. Frankly, Gibson says, he also saw that from the members; they too were hungry for a way to better invest in companies across the country. Gibson carried that mission and idea into the new fundraise.
“We have gone through this identity shift where we were a multi-city investor network and now we are more of a multi-city venture capital firm—but the goal has remained the same and that goal is to build the first thousand-partner venture fund,” Gibson told DC Inno. “We believe that venture capital is being disruptive, but the model has remained the same while the way that companies are being started is changing.”
Ultimately, he thinks it’s panning out well for the group. Organizationally, the group has become more geography-agnostic and virtual: It doesn’t matter where anyone lives or works from, which creates a broader landscape for NextGen to pull from. Everyone just works on a virtual communications platform developed by managing partner Chris Keller in Boston.
“As the model has evolved, we’ve had to bring along and cultivate and build strong relationships with our venture partners,” Gibson said. “The venture partners are generally pleased and ecstatic with the model evolving—it’s giving them access to companies that they would not be able to invest in individually.”
As a venture firm, NextGen is looking to invest in companies that are able to utilize the expertise that comes from NextGen’s thousands of investors. Specifically, they like companies that can sell into technology enterprises, Gibson said.
Our model enables us to deliver those resources beyond capital.
“The old venture capital model was for a company to raise money and receive a board member from their large investor, but today’s model is that companies need not only capital—and they need less capital to get started—but they really value expertise, connections, know-how, and our model enables us to deliver those resources beyond capital,” Gibson said.
That’s a big reason why Gibson and the team are still based out of Washington, D.C. Gibson said a lot of people overlook how strong the talent pool is in the District and the surrounding area. That talent can give startups the edge they need to grow further and faster.
NextGen would know a thing about strong D.C. investments, too. Its portfolio includes UrbanStems, Avizia, Virgil Security and more.
“We have thousands of trained engineers and technologists in this area who could be great founders and great executives, and I think that excites us,” Gibson said. “More and more I hope that D.C. follows this trend of creating exists for D.C.-based companies because the best way for founders to take the leap in certain ecosystems is to feel like there’s a potential to create an exit through their business.”