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Keeping our Center: Defining Origin’s Values

Since Steve Miller and Bruce Barron founded Origin Ventures in 1999, one piece of feedback we get consistently is that the Origin team brings an authenticity to all of its interactions: whether with investors, entrepreneurs, or other venture capital firms. While Steve and Bruce’s individual selflessness, integrity, generosity, and accountability have come to define Origin’s external persona, we have done our best to maintain this principled personal style as our ...

I Heart Your Work: Our Investment in 15Five

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.” – Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Kryzyzewski (aka “Coach K”) In their October 2016 article in Harvard Business Review titled “The Performance Management Revolution”, authors Peter Capelli and Anna Tavis laid out many reasons why up to 70% of multinational companies were moving away from an annual employee review process, and toward more frequent feedback cycles. While we agree with their underlying rationale, ...

Talking Heads: Our Investment in Cameo

We first met Cameo in October 2017, when a one-hour introductory meeting with the founding team turned into a two-hour chalk talk. We liked it right away. Cameo is a Chicago-based company that allows consumers to purchase short video shout-outs from a long list of “talent” - celebrities, entertainers, and athletes. Two days after that initial meeting, I tried Cameo by booking a video from European soccer star Kevin Prince-Boateng ...

Why We Invested in Wove

As Series A investors, a majority of our capital and attention goes towards helping our portfolio companies grow and scale their sales and marketing organizations. So we know firsthand the many challenges that marketers face, especially when marketing directly to consumers. As paid social advertising platforms have matured, they have become efficient at capturing a large percentage of the advertisers’ willingness to pay. In turn, companies are finding it difficult ...

Teem Acquired by WeWork

WeWork has acquired our portfolio company Teem. Teem is a Salt Lake City-based software company that provides innovative meeting room scheduling and workplace analytics. Since we first met the company in 2015, Teem has installed their software in tens of thousands of office locations, and touched millions of users in some of the most innovative companies in the world – including Airbnb, LinkedIn, Snap, Palantir, Slack and Evite. Teem had ...

Origin Summer Marketing Summit Recap

In July, the Origin team hosted marketers from across our portfolio and extended network to our 2018 Summer Marketing Summit here in Chicago. The 30-odd attendees drove the day’s content by leading conversations around topics they selected ahead of time. The daylong event included robust discussions on marketing best practices, areas for improvement, recommended tools and resources, and more. Find key takeaways below. Powering Up: Marketing Tech Stack Mastering software ...

Conversation with Trello’s Stella Garber on SaaS Marketing, Scaling, and Remote Teams

I recently sat down with serial entrepreneur, marketer, and startup executive Stella Garber to discuss her experience as a startup founder, as well as her time leading marketing for Trello before, during, and after its acquisition by Atlassian in 2017. Our conversation touched on marketing strategy and tactics, the blurred border between product and marketing, scaling a team and the frameworks it necessitates, and managing a remote team. Read highlights ...

A Dive into the Design and Features of Marketplaces

Marketplaces command a lot of focus from venture capitalists, which is unsurprising given some of the most well-known “unicorns” (e.g. Airbnb, Uber) are bonafide marketplaces. The attractiveness of these companies stems from the idea that marketplaces can “build moats” around their business through network effects. Other characteristics of marketplaces garner less attention. It would be impossible to cover all the relevant marketplace design questions or important KPIs in a single ...

Corporate Adolescence and a Framework for Organizational Scaling

"What is the biggest non-obvious challenge the company is facing and how could Origin help?" I asked as the board meeting was coming to a conclusion. "We would like to talk to your other companies that have transitioned from Series A stage. We are confronting a new set of challenges around managing people and our team that has doubled in size," the founder replied. "Corporate adolescence," I thought. ___ Scaling ...

Social Selling and E-Commerce: Our Investment in DirectScale

Direct selling has been a significant part of the American economy for over one hundred years. From the early days of traveling salesmen pitching cure-all elixirs and bibles, the industry evolved as brands like Stanley Home Products, Tupperware, and Mary Kay Cosmetics brought the ‘party plan’ into American households. More than 20.5 million people participated in the direct selling industry in 2016, with 5.3 million people building independent businesses as ...
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