Andrew Newcomb of MissionOG: 'More dialogue around the problem set, not the product set' - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 22, 2013 10:00 am

Andrew Newcomb of MissionOG: ‘More dialogue around the problem set, not the product set’

At Center City-based investment firm MissionOG, cofounder Andrew Newcomb invests more than just financial capital in early-stage B2B technology companies. He and his partners also work in what they call "human capital."
In effort to grow our community, we want to introduce you to interesting Philadelphians you might not know. Each week, we'll speak to someone new and have that person introduce us to someone else we should know. Last week: Mac Morgan, principal at software dev shop DmgCtrl. This week: Andrew Newcomb, general partner at Center City investment fund Mission Operators Group.

Mission Operators Group (MissionOG) is not your traditional investment fund.

At the Center City-based firm, cofounder Andrew Newcomb invests more than just financial capital in early-stage B2B technology companies. He and his partners also work in what they call “human capital.” That is, the MissionOG partners work “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the founders of their portfolio companies, investing their time and entrepreneurial experience.

Now, investors suggesting their mentorship is part of a portfolio deal isn’t new, but the way Newcomb talks about the priority can border on something new.

“Our experience is that human capital is as important as the financial capital invested in a business,” Newcomb wrote in an email.

MissionOG intends to work with companies from Washington, D.C. to New York, but most of its current companies are local to Philadelphia. Newcomb declined to provide portfolio company numbers at this time.

Keep reading to find out what an average day for Newcomb is like, what tech event he’s dreaming about and why it’s important to always find the client “nerve.”

'Follow your shot': It's not good enough to impart your opinion or deliver your work product and then be on your way.
  1. A/S/L? 43/m/Center City, although moved last year from Old City where I lived for 10+ years.
  2. How long have you lived in Philly? When did you found MissionOG? Most of my life. My three partners and I formally founded MissionOG this past summer, although we have been underway for well over a year.
  3. Best/worst/weirdest job pre-MissionOG? The best experience was with Ecount in Conshohocken, where we changed how businesses issue payments to their customers and employees. As a startup, we built 10 different businesses within Ecount and became a leader in our field. After we were acquired [in 2007 by Citi], we became one of the fastest growing businesses within Citi’s Global Transaction Services unit. In the process, I learned from partner Matt Gillin to sell your vision, make people believe, and follow your instincts no matter how painful the realization may be. From partner Paul Raden, I learned the importance of cultivating a flourishing company culture and that every detail in the finished product matters.
  4. What does an average day at work look like for you? Meet with an existing portfolio company to refine its pitch and then help sell one of their prospects; grab a quick lunch with an investor, likely a current or former operator who wants to invest in and be part of our fund; have conversations about leads for new portfolio investment opportunities; and then race my wife home to meet up with our two-year-old daughter.
  5. If you could collaborate with anyone or any organization in the local tech scene, who/what org would it be? Organize a group of leading enterprise businesses in the region to help drive greater value for them, for early stage tech business, and for the city as a whole. By pairing the nimbleness and focus of a startup with the distribution and investment mindset of an enterprise, a lot of value can be created.
  6. Any local tech events you look forward to? If not, what kind of event would you like to see? An ideal event would be a regional forum for a group of enterprise businesses, early stage tech entrepreneurs and companies to be able to discuss the biggest challenges and needs facing their businesses. All successful solutions are rooted in customer needs. There needs to be more dialogue around the problem set, not the product set. Stay tuned…
  7. Tell us about a workplace tradition or a part of company culture. We are relentless in our desire to create an internal culture of excellence that also translates to how we interact with our portfolio companies and our investors. Egos are checked at the door. It makes for a great place to work every day.
  8. What’s an important lesson you’ve learned working at MissionOG? Essentially, bestow us with a little wisdom. I have two: One, find the client “nerve” externally. Let the client and the market tell you what problem you need to solve. Never allow seemingly impressive internal product innovation cloud your judgment on understanding the external market need. Know that your product will be a priority within your target market only when you find this nerve, otherwise go back to the drawing board. Two, “Follow your shot.” It’s not good enough to impart your opinion or deliver your work product and then be on your way.
  9. Can you introduce us to someone in the broad local tech scene who you think doesn’t get enough attention? CEO and cofounder of PeopleLinx Nathan Egan. He is reinventing the way companies and their people optimize social business tools to accelerate their business objectives.

Check back for our next installment featuring Nathan Egan, CEO and cofounder of PeopleLinx. 

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