The Missing Piece – A modern community to support founders & global innovators

Alec Wright, Chief Innovation Officer @ OneValley (formerly GSVlabs)
Startup Grad School Stage
Ascent Conference 2020

[00:00:03] Good morning, everyone. I’m Alec Wright the chief innovation officer and managing director of ventures at GSV Labs. I’m going to take some time this morning to share my perspective on the power of online communities to support and empower startup founders and innovators across the world. We all know that startup in innovation communities have been disrupted by covid and a lot of the networks, resources, ecosystems that founders traditionally relied upon have been impacted. And whether that’s a program to a university, an accelerator, partnerships with large enterprise or government initiatives, all of these different programs have been shut down, delayed. And with that huge swath of resources that have traditionally supported the early stage startup community have disappeared. And so I’m going to spend a little time today discussing the opportunity that we see to take these startup support resources and communities online and not only maintain but improve the quality of support that we’re providing founders anywhere in the globe. Fortunately, that’s something that GSV Labs has been doing for years. And it’s been really exciting to see the impact that we’ve been able to have in supporting founders and supporting the organizations that empower their own entrepreneurs and in startup communities. So to get started, maybe a little context on GSV Labs. We’re a startup and innovation platform and our focus is supporting entrepreneurs, accelerating startups and empowering the organizations across the globe that support and grow their own startup communities to understand where we are. I think it’s really important to understand where we’ve been. So we were founded about eight years ago initially by GSV Capital and we’re incubated by GSV. At that time, we were really focused on building premier coworking spaces, early stage accelerators and offering enterprise innovation services to large corporations. In twenty nineteen, we went online and launched Passport, our virtual innovation center passport provide founders anywhere in the world, access to mentorship, investors, community and nearly a million dollars in discounted technology, tools and services. Now, today, we’re focused on building the world’s largest and most impactful startup, an innovation community. Where how are we doing, where our while there are twenty five thousand entrepreneurs on passport today from over 100 countries around the world, and it has become one of the premier places to access all the resources you need to grow your business.

[00:02:42] Even more interesting, we have two hundred thousand startups globally that are members of our B2B platforms and through our partnerships with foundations, government Fortune 500 enterprises are getting support and are connected to global communities all through private versions of the passport platform.

[00:03:02] And tomorrow, our goal is even larger. We want to reach a million founders across the globe and be the place where any entrepreneur, any innovator goes to connect access resources and grow their business and base for this big vision of this unbelievable mission that we have of a million founders. Strong. I’m very excited to say that we have a new name and a new brand that reflects this vision. Today is the first day that we are announcing that we are now one valley and one valley exists for one goal and one goal only to empower millions of founders across the globe to create and grow their business. So it’s a different name, but the same mission at 10x the scale, we’re going to triple down on supporting founders, accelerating startups and working with partner organizations globally that are creating their own startup and innovation communities. And there’s never been a time that this has been more important. We live in the age of entrepreneurship and we are going through an innovation phenomena globally, over six million businesses are launched every year and in the United States, that’s over seven hundred and fifty thousand were launched last year. And it’s increasing at a rapid rate as everybody looks to explore entrepreneurship. Despite the huge wave of startups and founders, building a startup is really hard.

[00:04:43] You have a lack of connectivity to outside networks. Resources are fragmented all over the place, accessing the right investors, the right mentors, the right talent is incredibly difficult. And there’s a lack of startup focused tools, services and ecosystems that are designed specifically for founders to make their life easy and increase their likelihood of being successful in their company. So we created passport and passport is designed to get founders all of the resources that they need and to solve what we call the founders dilemma. It provides access to mentorship, curated access to investors and capital, access to learning resources, best practices, curriculum content, and, most importantly, a community of founders, other entrepreneurs that are going through the same struggles and that everyone can share and learn with, as well as. Then finally, a massive portfolio of discounted technology tools and services that say founders across the globe hundreds of thousands of dollars every year simply by being members of the passport community.

[00:05:57] So today, Passport is supporting twenty five thousand startups, a hundred mentors, four hundred and fifty investors and excuse me, a million dollars in discounted technology tools and services. So really a virtual community and the resource hub for everything founders need to grow their business. And so we have a really simple question that we ask. Are you looking for expert mentorship, insights from other founders and access to investors that could propel your business?

[00:06:38] If so, passport is the place to be, we connect you to mentors, investors and a community of like minded founders. We also give you the opportunity to say tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the tools and technology services you’re already using or will be using tomorrow, and that includes best in class deals with all of the major cloud hosting providers, CRM and customer experience platforms, analytics and data providers, payments and finance. And the list goes on nearly a dozen different categories. A hundred plus vendors, you know all best in class deals, curated explicitly for the passport community so that our founders can access the tools they need while saving tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And in fact, our average startup actually redeem sixty thousand dollars in savings in their first year. And so it’s a it’s a huge impact on your ability as a seed stage startup or as a pre series a startup to really cut your bottom line while accessing the best tools and tech in the business, the right mentors, the right investors and all of this. This tens of thousands of dollars of value for every founder only cost six hundred dollars per year. That’s the cost of a passport annual membership for a startup. And today, because we’re announcing one valley and you’re all part of this Ascent conference with us, you know we actually will be offering any Ascent startup the ability to join the One Valley platform passport for four hundred and fifty dollars per year. So, again, you can do the math. You spend four hundred fifty dollars, you save tens of thousands and tools and services. You access a huge network of mentors and investors and a global community of founders. It’s it’s a no brainer for entrepreneurs, startup CEOs anywhere in the world. And that’s the power of the one valley ecosystem, we have passport at our core, but then we’re supported by an entire ecosystem of businesses, resources, infrastructure that make us that put us in a great position to support Founders’ anywhere. And I’ll share a little bit of some of the resources that we’re able to bring to bear. One Valley offers innovation centers, physical spaces to grow your startup community and be your home away from home when you’re in Silicon Valley or when you’re in Boston or shortly when you’re in Chiun, China, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or London. In the UK, our goal is to have physical innovation centers in the world’s top markets so that entrepreneurs everywhere can be part of those communities, both if they’re if they’re native to those markets, as well as when covid travel restrictions. And you’re able to to go back on your kind of global campaign of growth. And so we support startups through our innovation centers. We support startups through our ventures and acceleration group where we invest in extraordinary precede and seed founders that are emerging across the One Valley ecosystem. We’re focused on highly innovative, disruptive verticals. And inside of those verticals, we believe we’re not only able to bring capital, but the entire power of the one valley ecosystem of tens of thousands of other startups, of hundreds of investors to support the founders that we are ultimately partnering with through our ventures and accelerator programs.

[00:10:18] And so another kind of great resource that that we’re able to bring to the startup community and you know across one valley, what you notice is whether it’s our ventures, exploration or innovation centers, it’s many tools with one mission. How do we provide the best community and resources to support founders globally? But what’s really interesting is that it’s not just startups that need support.

[00:10:44] There are thousands, tens of thousands of organizations globally that have created their own startup communities and their own programs to empower and support entrepreneurs and innovators in their own geographic markets, in particular, industry verticals. And these organizations that are supporting entrepreneurs suffer from really similar problems. There’s a lack of startup focused tools. It’s difficult to access engage founders globally. Resources are fragmented and it’s really difficult to connect into non-local networks, whether that be mentorship, capital, talent, customers. And so organizations all over the world have built amazing startup communities. But the ability to take them to the next level and manage and grow them globally is really challenging. So we created Passport OS, which is the B to B version of Passport, it’s an operating system for any startup community, any innovation community that connects and empowers all of your members with resources, learning content, mentorship, and gives you the tools you need to grow and scale the support of your own startup ecosystem. And you know we created passport OS for a variety of different organizations to anyone who is supporting founders. We currently work with universities, foundations and NGOs, Fortune Five Hundred and enterprises, as well as accelerators and entrepreneurship programs globally to provide them with the tech tools they need for powerful online startup communities. And so that’s the power of passport OS. It’s all of the resources of our community. With your own private community that you control, that you can have your own mentors, your own investors, your own tools, partner services for your own community while still accessing everything we’ve built in passport to support founders globally. And you know it’s it’s caught some attention. In the last year, Passport OS has been deployed to support over two hundred thousand entrepreneurs through our B2B programs with some of the world’s top universities of Fortune five hundreds, which unfortunately we can’t disclose, as well as global foundations, nonprofits, governmental entities, everything you could imagine anyone who has a startup community, we have the tech tools to help them manage and grow. But we come to the table with more than just technology tools. We also provide a robust suite of support services, everything from acceleration program management to enterprise innovation workshops and training and ongoing support so that our partners can get the most out of their entrepreneurship and innovation communities and they don’t have to go at it alone. So we have one clear message to any organization out there. If you manage or support a community of startups, we want to hear from you. All we do is spend our time trying to work in support with support founders, as well as support the organizations that are doing that same work globally. Because if that’s you, if you manage to support a community of startups, we have the tools and the services that you need to manage and grow your ecosystem and take it to the next level.

[00:14:20] At the same time, you may not manage or grow your own startup community. You may be an organization that provides technology or services to fast-growing startups. If that’s you, we want to hear from you.

[00:14:33] We have a platform and channel to reach tens of thousands of startups, and our mission is to curate the best tools and best services for them so that any founder anywhere in the world, regardless of whether they’re in Silicon Valley, Sao Paulo, Bangalore, Bangladesh, they can all access the best resources, tools, technology, because everybody should have the opportunity to build breakthrough startups and entrepreneurship initiatives. So we hope to hear from you. We are one valley and our mission is to support a million founders around the world. And we’ll hope you’ll join us in that.

Leave a Reply