May 20, 2021

An Unusual Journey: Grateful After Three Years

John Vrionis
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An Unusual Journey: Grateful After Three YearsAn Unusual Journey: Grateful After Three Years
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Editor's note: 

By: John Vrionis and Jyoti Bansal

Three years ago, we announced Unusual’s inception to the world with the audacious goal of rethinking early-stage investing. We had a thesis that early-stage founders deserved more—and should demand more—from their investors in the form of hands-on help to overcome the hardest leg of a startup journey: From Idea to Product-Market-Fit. Based on our collective experiences as a serial entrepreneur and long-time investor, we set out to build a firm and engagement model laser focused on early-stage founders' needs. 

Like all founders, we were passionate about our idea, but we had our questions to work through. Would early-stage founders have an appetite for such a model? Would our engagement model be effective and drive impactful results for our founders? Could we recruit excellent people to help bring this concept to life? Could we convince Limited Partners that represent inspiring causes like foundations, endowments, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and health-related institutions to take a chance on us and our founders? Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us if we were to bring our “Unusual” vision to life.

In three years, we are proud of the strides we’ve made for the world-improving causes we are working for, the founders we support, and the top notch team we’ve assembled. We’ve also made strong progress on the unique, high-impact programs for founders we envisioned at the beginning of our journey: the Get Ahead Platform (GAP), Unusual Academy, Spark, and our open source Field Guide—that are designed to give tactical, hands-on help to early-stage founders. For this anniversary acknowledgment, we’d like to lean in that direction and celebrate our founders and their successes.

As we reflect on our portfolio companies in Fund I and Fund II, it’s abundantly clear we’ve had the privilege of partnering with dozens of world class, product-oriented founders. We have companies like Vivun, Traceable, and Styra that started working with us as Seed stage startups and have gone on to establish Product-Market-Fit, enabling them to raise multiple rounds of funding from other top-tier VC firms. It’s easy to point to additional financings as the barometer for success, but it always comes back to the fundamentals: Are the businesses hiring great people? Are they building the product they’re supposed to? Are they acquiring customers and hitting revenue goals? From early-stage companies like Rasgo, Arrikto, Alto, and Contra to our hyper growth stage companies like Arctic Wolf, Robinhood, Webflow, and Carta, we’re incredibly bullish on the prospects for these companies as they continue to hire top talent, deliver best in class products, and demonstrate exponential revenue growth—all ahead of plan.

From the start, our team has believed that focus and relationships matter. By focusing on helping founders in an unprecedented way at the early-stage, we are able to constantly learn, improve, and be the best partners. As a team we aspire to help build iconic businesses, but we also find great fulfillment in being trusted, high integrity, hard working team members who support founders on their personal journeys to becoming great leaders. Nothing matters more than how our founders experience Team Unusual: 

Final Thoughts

As we begin year four of the Unusual adventure, we wanted to take a moment and reflect. We aren’t a team that pats ourselves on the backs and rarely takes a breath to look back. There is so much more to do in order to deliver on our vision of raising the bar for supporting early-stage founders. However, it is important to say thank you to everyone who has supported us since our founding. 

Our strategy will remain the same in that we will continue to focus on helping enterprise and consumer technology founders when they need it most—the early-stage. We will deliver new ways to better serve our founders and evolve our current programs to meet the needs of today’s early-stage founders. Thank you to our community of founders, our incredible LPs, and our team for being on this Unusual Journey with us—Onward!

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