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Jun 7, 2022

Redefining Value in VC: Working for Equity, Accelerating with Capital

by TheGP Editors
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The word “partnership” is used a lot in venture capital today. Yet investors primarily focus their time and resources on assessing pitch decks and deploying capital. At The General Partnership (TheGP), we are redefining what partnership means for founders. We believe that true partnerships should help a founder achieve their best results, providing tangible impact from hands-on work that drives product-market-fit faster, saves years of engineering time, and builds world-class teams that win. 

What we learned from Sweat Equity

Over the past four years, Dan pioneered the sweat-for-equity model with Sweat Equity Ventures (SEV) because he understood that deploying capital wasn’t impactful enough to businesses. Founders need dedicated expertise. So he assembled a team of over 25 full-time experts—we call them “Builders”—who could be deployed to work alongside individual founders in our portfolio. Our Builders have built some of Silicon Valley’s most iconic products, from Google’s Knowledge Graph to YouTube’s infrastructure to Redfin’s marketplace model, and scaled teams at companies like Stripe, Robinhood, and Uber from their earliest stages. 

From the start, we identified three core pillars that we believe provide the most impact for founders: 

  • People. We help founders find and hire experienced builders and leaders. 

  • Products. We collaborate directly with founders to design and ship products. 

  • Customers. We prepare companies for commercial readiness by supporting well-structured repeatable go-to-market motion.

Across our growing portfolio of 50+ companies, we’ve had founders tell us that we’ve saved them a year of engineering work, signed their first enterprise customers, or placed core team members who fundamentally changed the trajectory of their company. These same founders kept asking us if we could then also support them with capital. So when Phin officially joined earlier this year and SEV evolved into The General Partnership (TheGP), we realized that capital is the fourth pillar of our sweat-for-equity model.

The fourth pillar

That’s why today we’re announcing TheGP’s inaugural $240 million fund, designed to bring Builders back to the metal, working side by side with founders. It’s our first time raising outside capital from institutional investors, which include individuals like Reid Hoffman, as well as leading nonprofits, educational institutions, and healthcare research centers, many of which have long-standing relationships with Phin and Dan. With this fund, TheGP will work with a select number of founders at the formation stage (incubation, pre-seed, and seed) and the breakout stage (rapid growth). We’ve found that these are the two most interesting—and challenging—stages of growth in a company’s journey. It’s also when our team of Builders can be the most impactful.

Join us in doing the work

We don’t evaluate pitch decks. We sit down with a select number of entrepreneurs with deep industry knowledge or technical expertise who have a clear northstar. From there, we have a conversation to understand their business needs to best assess how our Builders can support them with the pace and quality required to build fast. We’ve worked with former government executives who wanted to build a data-based tool for disease prevention, Blockchain engineers who wanted to make web app development fun and engaging, and life-long social justice advocates providing flexibility in payments for people who can’t cover their entire water or electricity bill at once.

Our entire team works to understand these founders’ operational needs and then collaborates with them to craft a 1:1 partnership around our four key pillars: people, products, customers, and capital. This definitely isn’t the “easy” version of venture capital, but we’ve found that this bespoke approach to deploying Builders to work directly with founders fosters a deeper, more layered type of partnership. It gives Builders the opportunity to apply their expertise without distractions and founders the ability to overcome their most complex challenges. These partnerships drive better outcomes and win.

If what we’re building at TheGP resonates, we’d love to get to know you, understand your vision for your business or career, and redefine partnership together.

- TheGP team

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